Gender issues in India

The death of a student who was raped on a Delhi bus underlines the seriousness of the gender problems in India.

This is a topic very difficult to explain for the amount of issues that are intertwined. Therefore I am going try to explain briefly some of them.

Female Infanticide and female feticide:

Female Feticide is the act of aborting a baby because it is of a female gender. Sex selective abortion is a big problem in India. The number of abortions by medical professionals have increased so much that today it has become a industry even though it is punishable by law.

Female Infanticide is the act of killing a female girl either new-born or within the first few years of life.  It could be actively, murdering through suffocation, poisoning etc.  Such acts can also be passive, where no interest is taken with regards to feeding or towards her general health in affect total neglect.

According to the Fundación Vicente Ferrer, the sex ratio in the 0-6 age group in India is 1000 males per 914 females in 2011¹. The ratio is significantly higher in certain states such as Punjab and Haryana (126.1 and 122.0, as of 2001)

Why? The traditions in India are deeply-rooted. The sons are who inherit and perpetuate the surname. And all that it entails, they will take care of their parents when old age takes hold.  The sons take responsibility of funeral arrangements as this task is not deemed appropriate for females.

The daughters marry and move in with their husband’s as a result they are not productive. In addition despite the dowry forbidding such behaviours since 1961 it is a general practise within Indian society and widely accepted.  The poor families who have got female children have to pay between 10.000Rs-20000Rs approximately for the dowry. Therefore it means 3 years’ salary approximately.

Marriages

The majority of marriages in India are arranged. This practice is legal in India, however it is forbidden to marry until the ages of 21 years old for men and 18 years old for women. In spite of this fact many marriages are between couples below the age guidelines and they are generally widely celebrated by the families involved. According to UNICEF 56% of cases involving early marriage happen in rural India and a 29% in the urban area.  The population’s beliefs consider it to be beneficial for the daughter because she will get use to the arrangement easier and adapt quicker into her husband’s family.

After the wedding the wife lives with her husband’s family. From that moment the only wish is having a boy. Conceiving a male child would gain the recognition of the family and hailed as an achievement for the wife. If she gave birth to a girl, in some cases, the husband’s family can blame her resulting in mistreatment which can lead to inflicting physical and psychological damage.  They can instruct her to commit suicide because of the strong beliefs which surround female birth.

Education

Since the new law in 2010, the education is free for every child between the age of 6 to 14 years old however it is not compulsory; this means the children have the right to education but not the obligation to go.  A lot of girls do not go to the school because their parents would rather send their sons who will be the future for them. The girls have to help at home doing housework.

 

Trafficking, slavery

Thousands of girls are kidnaped every year in India for trafficking, slavery, prostitution and so on.

Paradoxically there are not enough girls or women in India for getting married; in some states. So as a result of that, a new practice takes place in India; kidnaping of women or girls from other states or countries like Bangladesh or Nepal. The families pay a fortune for a woman or girl who will belong to them forever. The threat received from the family who has purchased the child is even worse than normally; the kidnapped woman does not have any rights.

Other women are convinced working in another state or in the capital would result in a better lifestyle however in reality the circumstances they find themselves in are worse and they are often left feeling cheated. They are forced to work from dusk until dawn without a salary and in addition they live in indescribable conditions. As a result some of them are dedicated to prostitution.

India is a country of enormous complexity and its problems are just as complex as the country.

With this brief introduction I am not even close to explaining the depths of the problems or indeed the scale currently present within India but I hope you have found it interesting and that it inspires you to do your own research.

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