National Girl Child Day: “Tomorrow is here” by Natasha Badhwar


Natasha Badhwar, Tomorrow is here, Mint Lounge, October 28, 2011.

“She was just like me except for the diamond earrings and solitaire ring she was wearing. We recognized each other instantly. South Delhi girls, modern Indian women, now professionals.

This was my third pregnancy and she was my ultrasonologist, the doctor who did my ultrasounds. …

Here’s what I learnt accidentally. I found out that a disdain for daughters and boy-worship isn’t just the domain of the poor, the ignorant and the illiterate. As a big-city snob, I hadn’t expected any better from maids and villagers, and random grandmothers. My illusions were smashed in one thunderous moment when we became witness to the callous and casual misogyny of my doctors, my city friends and general all around posh “people like us”. It was devastating at that time. Here we were, flushed with joy, holding a miracle of a baby. And yet I felt that I was stranded in a wasteland, surrounded by debris. Even joy needs validation, I found out.”

Read the whole article here.

National Girl Child Day: Naqvi-Shivakumar article on sex selection and the girl child


Farah Naqvi and A.K. Shivakumar, India and the sex selection conundrum, The Hindu, January 24, 2012.

What was our immediate response to further decline in the child sex ratio in India? Within days of the provisional 2011 Census results (March-April 2011), the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare reconstituted the Central Supervisory Board for the Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex selection) Act 1994 , which had not met for 3 years, and on November 30, 2011 the Ministry of Women and Child Development formed a Sectoral Innovation Council for Child Sex Ratio. But we are busy dousing flames in haste without looking to dampen the source. This fire-fighting approach is unlikely to succeed, because putting out fires in one district virtually ensures its spread to another. That is what has happened.

The decline in child sex ratio (0-6 years) from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001 and further to 914 females per 1,000 males in 2011 — the lowest since independence — is cause for alarm, but also occasion for serious policy re-think. Over the last two decades, the rate of decline appears to have slowed but what began as an urban phenomenon has spread to rural areas. This is despite legal provisions, incentive-based schemes, and media messages. Indians across the country, bridging class and caste divides, are deliberately ensuring that girls are simply not born. This artificial alteration of our demographic landscape has implications for not only gender justice and equality but also social violence, human development and democracy.

Read the whole article here.

Technology aids violence against women


Google India runs ad for illegal baby sex test kit, AP/Indian Express, September 12, 2008.

Mumbai, September 12: The image seems innocuous enough: A pregnant woman’s belly with a male symbol scrawled in ink to the right of her navel and a female symbol to the left.But in India, where the practice of aborting female fetuses is widespread, such advertisements for prenatal gender selection kits are neither innocuous nor legal.

Last month, activist Sabu George filed a petition against the Indian subsidiaries of Google, Microsoft and Yahoo with the nation’s highest court, asking the companies to pull gender selection advertisements from their Indian search engines. On Aug. 13, the Supreme Court asked the companies to respond to the petition.