Unchaahi: against Female Foeticide in India

Friday, February 19, 2010

hi all,
Do read this article that appeared in mumbai mirror yesterday. it speaks of how aishwarya rai is down with TB and therefore has postponed her plans of getting pregnant. it is a stupid article in any case, and the paper has not even revealed the journalist's name. But what is most objectionable is this line - "within, there’s a very ardent desire to have an heir for the family as soon as possible. Mr Bachchan is especially sold on a grandson, but when asked about it he says, as usual, “When it happens, it will happen.”.
it is sad that MM has carried a story that tells us that Amitabh Bachchan is keen on a grandson and not a granddaughter. this is indeed disappointing and shocking. Female Infanticide is rampant exactly due to this attitude. Please do write to mirrorfeedback@indiatimes.com and (cc to) meenal.baghel@timesgroup.com and speak up!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Must-read -- Mom's the word!

Hi all,
Here's a wonderful article i read (the cover story of the day) in mumbai mirror. That the newspaper chose to put it on the front page speaks volumes about the intelligence of their editorial team. The article `MOM'S THE WORD' is about schools now allowing the use of the mother's name in school forms. It speaks of a respect given to the mother, that has been unheard of. I remember my maid telling me how she had to beg her drunk and abusive husband who had abandoned the family years ago, to sign on their child's school form as her signature was not accepted. Even middle and upper middle-class women (taking care of the child single-handedly) who are separated and divorced have to ask/beg their ex-husbands, some of whom don't even pay a penny for child maintainence to make these forms valid. This is a moment of truimph for her and for all women, especially single mothers. It will affect the self-esteem and self-worth of many women. Let's send an encouraging note to the newspaper lauding the government's efforts in bringing about equal rights for both mothers and fathers. Write to mirrorfeedback@indiatimes.com and (cc to) meenal.baghel@timesgroup.com. There will be enough letters opposing this, so we have to show them that we encourage this move. Remember each letter counts!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hi, it takes two kinds of attacks on women in mumbai to make me write this. One is an unearably cruel one -- where four people raped a woman and burnt her alive. Read the story and see if you can get the picture of her angelic children out of your mind. Do write in to the editor and the newspaper asking for capital punishment for the criminals. Write at mirrorfeedback@indiatimes.com and meenal.baghel@timesgroup.com.
The other seems a little more innocent but is strange nevertheless. Take a look at this article about Rani Mukherjee. The article is placed on the page where entertainment-related `news' stories are covered. In the middle of all that is a personal piece where the writer is attacking the actress on personal grounds. Read it and see if you can make sense of it -- he warns the actress of "younger faces" coming in the competition. Would an article about age and younger faces EVER be written about a top Bollywood male actor? Would this writer write something like this about SRK, Salman or even Saif? the answer is a resounding NO. It's much easier to pick on women, and ride on their insecurity about maintaining an unreasonably youthful look at all times. Shameful that Mumbai Mirror even carried this personal tirade in their paper.

Monday, June 8, 2009

She: A poem by Imp's Mom

Guest Post Contributed by Imp's Mom

Thanks for sharing Imp's Mom :)


She is worshiped
She is treasured
She is given all the luxuries of life that can be offered


She does not have Freedom

Freedom to make her own choices
Freedom to make her own mistakes
Freedom to live her life in her own terms
Freedom to learn from her own mistakes

Give her an education
Give her a chance to make it worthwhile
Give her a chance to grow, show her the love and watch her blossom

She is no less than a son.

Say NO to Gender Inequality


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What I want from my daughter

My daughter is 14 months old and I am beaming with pride and happiness as she grows into a playful, happy, strong-willed baby. I was watching her play with her dad yesterday and suddenly I was gripped by a strange fear. I know that my husband and I will provide her with happiness and love of this entire world. I know that I will hold her hand and lead her when she needs guidance, I will support her when she is down, advice her when she is in trouble. But she will grow up soon. Sooner than I want. She will be going to school soon and soon become a teenager. She will get married one day. And after that she will be on her own. She will make her own decision. She has to decide what is right and what is wrong. She has to decide if she is choosing the right man for herself or not. I know that these fears are baseless, too far in the future. But I am scared. Because I want to lay a foundation for her so that she can make the right decision. I have to build a person, a woman who can choose the good from the bad. I am scared because I have a girl in my family, a 22 year old girl going out with a boy I don't approve of . She is head over heels for that boy and he knows that. She breaks up with him but he comes and shed two tears and patches up with her again. She hears nothing, sees nothing except for that person. Why do girls, educated girls become blind like this ? Why they fall for wrong guys even though they are ill-treated in their relationships? Why don't they have power to break a relationship even though they are miserable? Why? And she is so called "modern girl" who believes that wearing cleavage showing dress makes them liberated and forward. They are so wrong. So wrong that I feel angry at them. 

Your thoughts and actions make you liberated. Your belief in yourself makes you liberated. Your respect for yourself makes you liberated. Having a boyfriend and wearing short clothes doesn't make you modern. Don't think that I am against western clothes or boyfriend. I wear them myself and I married my boyfriend . But I believe that girls and women need to understand that strong women are born from their minds and not from their clothes.  Girls who wear salwar-kameez are considered ignorant. Hindi speaking women (in US) are considered hard core desi. Why? If you have seen "Fashion " movie you will realize that Kangana ranawat's character and life showed exactly what women in modern era are going through. They get beaten up, slapped, insulted, ignored by their boyfriends(leave alone husbands) but they still cannot muster the courage to leave these relationships. And I think I might know a little bit of answer for this. The absence of love and support from their family.  

When a girl doesn't have a good family or family support , she starts to search for this love outside her house and many times end up with the wrong man. She tries to make the relationship work for the fear of loosing her support and only love she has. She tries hard to chase the illusive love. She searches for that loving dad and a concerned mother in her boyfriend. She wants to be cuddled and hugged, cared for and embraced . And it is our responsibility as parents to make sure that we give them that foundation so that they can grow into strong women. So that they don't search for that lost love in wrong hearts. We as mothers and father have to fill that vacuum in their hearts. And we have to provide all the love so that they don't look for that outside among strangers. And especially all the mothers, take charge of your daughters. We need to starts from the day our daughters are born. We need to give them a safe environment so that they feel protected and supported. Fathers play a very important role in a girl's life. They will always look for that fatherly figure in their partner. 

I hope I can make a responsible and strong woman out of my little daughter. I hope I can give her all that she needs to make right decisions in her life. And not only me , but I hope my husband can be an example for my daughter so that she chooses the right man when she grows up

Friday, April 17, 2009

mumbai mirror's reporting of TISS student rape


Take a look at this entry on Facebook group called `FIGHT-BACK, Stop Gender Violence!' - "We've all been disgusted by the group of boys (castrating them and then publicly hanging them seems too less a punishment) raping the TISS student. But even more disturbing is the way Mumbai Mirror has chosen to carry the details of the crime. It's probably a police statement that the paper has reproduced in all its gory, raping the girl all over again. and to think that mm has a female editor!!
Despite my not wanting to, am reproducing bits from the article to make my point. "Karan also came there and started kissing me. Karan lifted the T-shirt up, and also pushed my bra up. He started sucking my breasts. I tried to stop him but he continued to do so." Here's the link to the article. http://www.mumbaimirror.com/index.aspx?page=article&sectid=2&contentid=2009041720090417022842740512b8cc3 Is this the way rape should be reported?? if yiou are as shocked as i am, write your opinion to mirrorfeedback@indiatimes.
com and to meenal.baghel@timesgroup.com. Please do write!"

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mid-Day's exploitative story

hi all,

Just saw a post (http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=49641698651&topic=7986) on Facebook's `Consortium of pub-going, loose and forward Women'. I am quoting it verbatim...

"Those who have read the front page story in Mid Day today were shocked. It showed a semi-nude girl, with the headline `Another sex clip rocks campus'. http://www.mid-day.com/delhi/index.htm. The article (http://www.mid-day.com/news/2009/feb/180209-Noida-MBA-student-leaks-girlfriends-striptease-video.htm) goes on to explain how this girl's boyfriend filmed her striptease and circulated it on the mobile through MMS. What is shocking is how Midday, instead of showing the culprit's face, has shown the victim in only her undergarments. Her face may be pixilated, but it's still disgusting to show a girl's picture, in such a vulnerable state by such a supposedly reputed paper. Midday has done to the girl, what her boyfriend did to her -- it's an outrage of her modesty and sexual exploitation. Recently, Midday did something similar. A week ago, it carried the headline which was completely sensationalised (in red ink too) that a minor child had been raped. They DARED to show the picture of the child and her distraught mother on the front page, instead of the culprit's face who was in police custody. As if those disrespectful mid-day mates were not enough, the paper is set to exploit rape victims as well. I don't know about you, but i am banning that crazy paper from my home and office.

Do write in to mid-day@mailbag.com and cc to editor shishir.joshi@mid-day.com to express what you think of such activities on this paper's part. I agree most tabloids are the same, but at least they don't show the victim's exploitation on the front page (they don't spare even a raped child)!! mid-day has crossed that line even; it is unbelievable. They're getting a long letter from me; let's see if they have the guts to print it. And in keeping with this group's Gandhigiri attitude of non-violent yet powerful protests, let's collectively ban this exploitative paper. What say?"

Awaiting your comments on this, people.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pink Chaddi Campaign and more ...

For those of you who keep a tab on this blog, my gratitude firstly ... secondly, I am sure you would've noticed that a post has gone missing. After much contemplation, we decided to delete the post that was written by our respected contributor, Nina, expressing her support for the Pink Chaddi Campaign which everyone in the blog world is aware of by now. As noble as Nina's intentions were, we realize that this blog is not the place to be discussing merits or demerits of the above quoted campaign.

I, for one, do not support the campaign and have written about it on my personal blog here and here. However, I see no reason for that to be discussed on Unchaahi. Anything that has been written on Unchaahi so far under the 'solutions' category has followed a decorum of rational analysis and discussion without getting swayed by popular propaganda or emotional reactions. We, the Unchaahi team, understand that and hope to continue the same decorum in our future dialogue.

My apologies for the miscommunication.

- Roop


Sunday, February 8, 2009


Hi All :-)
Nina here- I'm a PhD student who is looking at the practice of female foeticide in India and the broader social context in which it takes place. 
My husband and I travelled from Australia to Mumbai last Sunday to visit his family (he is Indian- I am not), and for me to make some research contacts for my studies. It is my fifth visit to wonderful India and I must say it has been an interesting stay thus far.
Although I am accustomed to being stared at in India (for my white skin?) this time it has been different- I have been touched by strangers (men) a number of times, and not older men. These have been men (boys) in their early 20s. Most surprising to me is that I'm no spring chicken- I'm 32 years old, have wrinkles like most whities at my age, and do not have the figure of Pamela Anderson (thank god). 
What is it then? What  has happened in the last 24 months to make these young men think it is acceptable to brush up against and grope a woman (who is accompanied by her husband at the time)?
Now this is not a rant against men- in fact, I really do feel sorry for men who are so imprisoned in their gender that they are unable to see the worth and opportunity for learning and companionship that exists in the fairer sex. By treating women this way men are further oppressing themselves too. Is treating women in this kind of way the only way for some to feel like a 'man'?
I have been traversing these lines of thought recently and am really looking forward to meeting up with a mens organisation in Mumbai, MAVAW, whose activities are based around empowering men in order to prevent violence against women.
Which I think raises an important point- in order to change the deeply ingrained son preference culture which underpins the skewed sex ratio and practices of female foeticide surely men must be further incorporated into the solution. For 12 months I have been studying policies aimed at redressing the ratio and 99.9% of programmes/policies are aimed at women only
Perhaps the policies have been woefully ineffective thus far because of the simple fact that women do not exist in some sort of social vacuum i.e. gender roles only have significance because of their counterpoints (behavioural norms for men vs women). 
I am interested to see what you all think...
Should policies incorporate men's empowerment too?
Would this help women shake off the patriarchal shackles and value their daughters if they had support of the more powerful sex?

When talking to my husbands (male) friends about the tendency for men to objectify and oppress women I'm told, 'This is India- it's the way it is'.
There's a line in Slumdog Millionaire which I keep thinking about in relation to all this...
'Just because that's the way things are, doesn't mean that's the way things should be'

Nina :-)

PS Welcome back Roop!

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Revival ...

Hey guys

This is Roop. I apologize for not being a regular on this blog for the longest time now. I had doctor's orders to stay away from anything that would upset me per se for a while. Well, obviously, that didn't quite happen. I stayed away from Unchaahi but inadvertently got sucked into talking about women issues on my personal blog. Since I haven't been contributing to this blog for a while now, I figured that I might begin to do that by cross posting some of the posts from over at my other blog. Also, I want to thank SC, Reeti, SpeakingSilence and Nina for keeping this boat floating!!! Much power to you, guys.

Here are the links:

1. Writing for Freedom
2. It's not an everyday occurence
3. Disgusting double standards
4. Practically Speaking (solutions)

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Nobody to Marry.... Guess why ?

Posted by Speaking Silence

I was listening to my mother describe how one of my cousin had such a hard time finding a "suitable" girl for himself. She was telling me how difficult is to even find a girl, leave alone 'suitable' girl in our community (Uttar Pradesh). And I asked her aloud "Guess why...Take a wild guess"

Boys don't have girls to marry...Guess why?? Let me tell you because girls are killed before they are born in our part of the world. I remember my uncle had the same problem. He couldn't find a match for himself. Because there is a dearth of women in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana and I think even Punjab

Isn't it shocking that these people first commit murder and then they complain that they don't have any girls around to marry off their sons. These Poor men have to venture into neighbouring states like Bihar and Orrisa to find marriageable girls irrespective of their caste(beggars can't be choosers , can they ?)They have to "buy " these brides now. Pay money to be married because most of their brides-to-be are killed and murdered cruelly before they take their first breath.

And if you ask them , they are not really sure why there is so much shortage of girl...Let them Guess Why...


Monday, January 19, 2009

Do we respect ourselves as Women?

By Reeti Roy

A discussion in class today sparked these thoughts. We were in the middle of a Film Studies class when a professor that I have immense respect and admiration for began to talk about the School of Subaltern Studies. He was talking about Robinson Crusoe and he started talking about how the story is quite simple- how it is about a man trapped on an island and his adventures on that island. However, for the longest time,no one really thought of Robinson Crusoe as a manifesto of Colonialism.

Colonialism in Robinson Crusoe was thus not only naturalized but also legitimized as a Social Worldview as though it would make things better.

The more I thought about this today, the clearer things became to me. How many of us really respect ourselves as women? How many of us question patriarchy? How many of us refuse to suffer silently and speak up?

I have an example for this too. Most of my friends have at some point or the other been sexually abused. And nine times out of ten, it has been a relative who has abused them. Most of these girls would not dare to speak out about this in public. Some of them even said they had feelings of guilt. When I was abused as a sixteen year old schoolgirl (about four years ago) I had feelings of guilt. Had I dressed too provocatively? What had prompted such action? Why had I been meted out this kind of treatment? These were the questions that I asked myself, little realizing that this was the effect of years of brainwashing- an effort to make a woman feel inferior and subservient in a patriarchy. I didn't tell myself that no manner what I wore, no one had the right to even touch me without my permission.

What about forced marriages where women are burnt alive if their families cannot pay dowry? In urban India, dowries are often masked as "gifts". What happens then? Do we not have the right to choose our partners?

Before these heinous acts are eradicated, we must learn to stand up for ourselves. The truth of the matter is that as women we have become accustomed to the naturalized and legitimized worldview. We should learn to stand up for ourselves first.

Shocking comments from Sanjay Dutt, the chauvinist!

Posted by Sonia C

Hi all,

The following interview has caused an uproar. In the interview, Sanjay Dutt attacks all women who have chosen to keep their maiden names after marriage, in turn hitting out at his sister Priya who has retained her father's surname. What is infuriating is how Sanjay goes on and on about what women should and shouldn't do, praising Maanyata as she is a homemaker after marriage. No wonder the more beautiful and intelligent women he was with, divorced him and ran away. The comments at the end of the interview are very encouraging, as almost every one -- men and women -- have opposed Dutt's backward and parochial remarks. Please do read the interview and do post a comment at the end. There's also a poll about the same issue (bottom, left-hand corner). Do leave your opinion on the poll. This is indeed very disappointing that a person who was booked for criminal activity, and who still has such disrespect towards women, will be contesting elections.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Why women hate women

Posted by Speaking Silence

I could never fathom the whole concept of women hating women in India. Why do mothers kill girl-child in their womb,why married women outcast widow, why mother-in-laws burn brides, why mothers love boy-child more than girls , why do they feed boys more than girls as happen in many communities? Why do women hate each other?

How can we change, how will people change and how will the world change when women never support women. We are weak because we are alone. We have no support not even from our own sex. Why is it so ?

Sex-selective abortion are not always forced upon by husbands and in-laws , they are often done in consensus by the mother. I have seen it so many times, in my own house, in my neighbours house. I have seen it first-hand and heard it from many friends. Maybe that's the way world rules and suppress us by turning us against each other. And we all are so well-trained in it. Have you every been to a village in India? I have been to one. Village of my parents. We went there every year for 3 months and I have seen abuse and humiliation. I have heard tales of horror and tales of abortions. Women discussing how to have a male-child,women discussing how to abort if its a girl-child, women getting abortions after ultrasound. I have seen it first-hand. I don't need to see any documentary for this stark reality. I feel it in my veins. I experienced it from my own mother. Because she desired a male-child and unfortunately God never bestowed this pleasure to her. She bore three girl and I am the second one. We grew up with a huge hole , a big dark vacuum in our house. Absence of a male-child. Not that I was beaten up or starved or not given education. I was given all that just like every child in Delhi, good food and good education. But I knew the existence of this sorrow deep within my parents . I knew the stabbing pain that they harbored. I resented it but never held any grudges against them until my own child was born. A girl child. I felt that same sorrow and anger oozing out of my mother against her . She almost cursed God but I will not let this happen to my daughter.I will never let her feel that gush that my mother sends to me. I will protect her till my last breath and I will teach my child to love women. I will teach her to uphold her pride. I will teach her to stand tall as a woman .

How can a mother , a grandmother do such a thing. I feel at loss at all of this, at my mother , my community, my relative, my village and my country. What should I tell my daughter about India? That it is a land where girls are killed for being a girl. That women are raped in day-light , that girls are teased in crowd. That women hate each other so much. I feel at loss . I feel sad and angry. I feel betrayed.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Shame on our Media! Shame on Hindustan Times!

Posted by Sonia C

Dear all,

It’s 2009, and we still report rape crimes in the passive voice. What is the passive voice you say? Here’s a headline on the front page from Hindustan Times that screams sensationally, “24=year-old MBA student gang-raped in Noida”. Why not write a headline that puts the focus on the rapists and not the victim? Why not write `Ten men in Noida gang-rape MBA student’. Here, we want to ask questions about the rapists and not the victim. This is basic decency, as far as ethics go.

I think by putting that big, bold headline, all HT (and most other publications, sadly) did was to create fear among women all over India, leaving the rapists scot-free. I think HT’s editor Vir Sanghvi can shove his new fancy award up his a*** for allowing sicko headlines such as these on the front page. Read more about why `Violence against women is a men’s issue’ on this link http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2008/06/02/jackson-katz-violence-against-women-is-a-mens-issue.

Also, if you are as rattled as I am about this terrible incident, write to Hindustan Times and The Times of India on the following addresses.

Hindustan Times



The Times of INDIA

toieditorial @timesgroup.com


or sms MYVOICE your comments and name to 58888

Do demand that the strictest punishment be meted out to the criminals.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Honor Rapes ...

Only watch this by being as dispassionate as you can. Keep your emotions separate and see this as a report. It was difficult for me and I had a miserable evening following watching this video. So, if you decide not to watch it, it's comprehensible.

(Please note that the views presented at the end of this video are not endorsed by Unchaahi. Also, I apologize for the unappealing graphics but, sometimes, truth can be ugly.)


Friday, November 21, 2008

Just today's news.

These are front page stories on the Times of India.

Widows are bought and sold like cattle just a few hundred kilometres from Bangalore.
Unbelievable though it may sound, widows are treated like cattle, are 'bought and sold' in a custom treated as sacred by the 'Handi Koracha' community. Worse, local authorities well aware of the issue are not lifting a finger to help the victims of this de-humanising tradition.

Woman's body found in a trunk.

Young woman burnt to death in Lucknow.

This is just a very random sample of what the newspaper said today. Are we even surprised? 
And, unfortunately, do we even care?

Please post your views here. I know it is sad, these are random things, the media has to report what happens, but what does it say about us as a people?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mixed Feelings

It's become frightening to read the newspaper these days. Crimes against women just don't seem to ebb. Take the case of HR manager Anandita Mishra; she had separated from her husband as he wanted to send their paralytic child to the orphanage. She, along with the child, started living with her 70-year-old mother. Her slimy male colleague constantly made advances towards her, which she rebuffed. But her `no' hurt the a******'s male ego, and he simply murdered her. What punishment is good enough for a criminal such as this? He has killed not, one, but three lives -- that of Anandita, that of her daughter, and that of her aged mother. I shudder to think what will happen of this family. Why did this have to happen to her? Just she said no? It reminds me of the incident where a boy burnt a Standard Ten girl alive for refusing his proposal. This was years ago, but nothing much seems to have changed! Read the full story here.

The reason I have titled this post as `Mixed Feelings' is this wonderful story I came across this morning in Sunday Times of India. It is interestingly and humorously titled as `Defanging the Indian MCP'. It's about a group of men who educate locals on gender equality and treating women with respect and dignity. It's a wonderfully written piece that brightened my Sunday morning. Do read the story and write some encouraging comment to the author of the article - Jyoti Punwani!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ban against Sex-Selective abortions

The bill that I talked about here and the press-conference I was meant to be a part of was conducted in Washington as this report states:
With a national study showing the possibility that the practice of sex-selection abortions has made its way from Asia to the United States, a leading pro-life Congressman says a ban on the practice is needed. Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican held a press conference today on why the bill is necessary.

Franks is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and a ranking member of the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee and he says unborn children are potentially being denied their civil rights.

In April, researchers Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund of the National Academy of Sciences say their analysis of the 2000 Census shows the odds prematurely increasing for Asian-American families from China, Korea and India to have a boy if they already have a girl child.

The data "suggest that in a sub-population with a traditional son preference, the technologies are being used to generate male births when preceding births are female," they wrote in the paper.

Responding to the problem, Franks has introduced the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, which would prohibit knowingly performing or financing sex-selection abortions.
On another note, a study suggests that property laws in India are more responsible for girls being unwanted than dowry is. That could be part of the explanation of why rich people practice female foeticide more than the poor in India. Ranjana Kumari, chairperson of Centre for Social Research in New Delhi, said that property and inheritance laws, which are biased towards men, make people not want a daughter at all.


I came across an article on catholic.org that speaks of banning Sex-Selective abortions in America ... and it resonates with exactly what we discussed earlier in terms of women's freedom of choice. It states:
While the pro-aborts are stuttering, we pro-lifers will be advancing new moral and logical arguments against the exercise of the "right" to an abortion solely on the grounds of sex. For those who are immune to moral arguments, we can also use the examples of China and India, where sex-selective abortion is creating enormous societal problems. We can also highlight the trivial reasons that drive most abortions by highlighting the most frivolous of them all. The debate over sex-selective abortion will also help to focus the public's attention on how unregulated the abortion industry is. In these and other ways, the debate over this legislation will not subtract from, but add to, the larger goal of reversing Roe v. Wade.

How scary is that!!!! *Shudderrr!!* Take away woman's right of choice completely under the guise of banning sex-selective abortions to begin with. Oh my.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Google India at fault?

The Associated Press reports:

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.

The response is yet to come, but the day after the court's order, the offending ads vanished from the Web, George said. On Thursday, however, they began to reappear on Google.

The company is, George said, "breaking the law and making money. Every time you click on that ad, Google is making money."

If you typed in the words "sex" and "selection" on Google India on Thursday, up popped a sponsored link to Urobiologics LLC, a U.S. company that sells urine test kits for $275 to $400 that it says can determine the sex of an unborn baby with 98 percent accuracy.

Dr. Kuldeep Wirma, the founder and president of the company, said by phone from the company's Livonia, Michigan, headquarters that Urobiologics cannot ship kits directly to India, but that a kit could be delivered to a U.S. address, and from there mailed to India. Samples mailed from India can be processed in 15 days, he said.

Asked by The Associated Press about the legality of advertising for a gender selection kit in India, he acknowledged the ad was illegal and vowed to pull it immediately. "We can stop it right away. We don't intend to do business in India," he said, though he added that he had asked Google to include India on the list of countries where his advertisement would run last week.

Roli Agarwal, a spokeswoman for Google India, said Thursday evening she could not comment immediately on the Urobiologics ad, referring questions to an official statement from Google in response to George's petition.

"The Google advertising program is managed by a set of policies which we develop based on several factors, including legal requirements and user experience. In India, we do not allow ads for the promotion of prenatal gender determination or preconception sex selection. We take local laws extremely seriously and will review the petition carefully," the statement said.

More here.

The company, Urobiologics, writes on the homepage of their website:

Welcome to Urobiologics! We know that when you tell family and friends regarding your pregnancy, the first question on everyone's mind is "Is it a boy or a girl?" Let Urobiologics help you address your curiosity in a safe, fast, and convenient manner. We offer the earliest and most accurate fetal gender test available in the market. We determine the gender of the baby by testing a sample of the expectant mother's urine mailed to us, from as early as the 5th week of pregnancy (or just one day after missed menstrual due date) upto approximately 15th week, with an expected accuracy of 98%.

No visits to the clinic are required, as the test can be performed conveniently over posal service. Once you place an order, you will receive a sample-collection package from us, and we will provide you with sample results within 4 days of receipt of sample. Click here to read more.

mmm hmm.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Legislation on sex selective abortions (US)

I was approached by the office of Congressman Trent Franks over the weekend to discuss whether I could be any assistance to them in introducing a bill in attempts to eliminate sex-selective abortions in USA. We've discussed earlier on this blog that the problem of female foeticide persists in South Asian groups in countries like USA, Canada and UK as well. I spoke to the lady (a very nice sounding lady in fact), who had contacted me from the Congressman's office, on phone today. The bill that the Republican Congressman Trent Franks is looking into introducing is a pre-natal non-discrimination bill that will legislate banning of sex-selective abortions in the United States with a penalty of upto 5 years in prison for doctors conducting them. I was kindly offered to be hosted in Washington to present this bill alongwith the Congressman's staff to the Democrats and win their approval. Later on, I could also be a part of a Press Conference happening in Capitol Hill on September 17 regarding this bill. All of it sounded great and exciting but, unfortunately, I had to say no.

The reasons for my refusal to the nice lady on the phone were:

1. Banning the sex-selective abortions is not a solution
First of all, there is no way of proving that the abortion being conducted is a sex-selective one unless the woman getting it done says it herself. In almost all of the cases where sex selective abortions are happening and will happen, women will not reveal any such details to their doctors especially when they know the act is illegal. Currently, in USA, a woman does not need to cite a reason for abortion or go to court until she has to go through a Partial Birth Abortion as it was banned under the Bush administration. However, if sex-selective abortions are banned, many genuine cases where mothers want to abort due to reasons other than gender discriminations would unnecessarily be hassled with the ban. Also, ban is never an answer to any problem. There are always illegal and UNSAFE ways of getting things done like coat-hanger abortions if legal bans are put in place.

2. Chances of prejudice against women of South Asian descent will increase
Studies have shown and it is a widely known fact that it is mostly South Asian women who are practicing sex-selective abortions. That is the bias this bill will be introduced with if it goes on floor. Now, let's imagine that this bill actually passes and becomes a law, it will significantly raise the chances of South Asian women being refused the right to abortion even if their reason to abort is other than sexual-discrimination solely on the suspicion that their reason MIGHT be sex-discrimination and that the doctor might get in trouble. You see how this bill could, in fact, be detrimental to the group that it is intending to help on surface? South Asian women's choice of abortion would/could be curbed just because they belong to a group that practices female foeticide.

3. Congressman Trent Franks is staunchly a pro-lifer
Trent was also the prime sponsor of one of the first pro-life bill in the nation designed to overturn Roe vs. Wade (described below), which passed in the Legislature. Need I say more? I cannot support him. I am not pro-life (as it is defined) by any means and neither would I ever stand behind anyone who has been so strongly pro-life in his past years. My principles don't allow me.

(For those who don't know, the central holding of Roe v. Wade (1973) was that abortions are permissible for any reason a woman chooses, up until the "point at which the fetus becomes ‘viable,’ that is, potentially able to live outside the mother's womb, albeit with artificial aid. Viability is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks (although this has been altered by the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act mentioned above, courtesy President Bush)).

What should be done?
I've often asked this question on this blog. What do you think should be done? Should laws be legislated? If yes, then what? Where should we start? What solutions do you have to offer?

After much contemplation, the only approach I can see as viable at this point is the three-pronged approach of legislation, education, and empowerment. It is as follows:

1. Legislation
Legislate an environment that is safe for women to come out with the truth if they are being pressured in any manner to abort their child. A woman should not have to face the risk of being killed if she told anyone the truth or didn't abort her girlchild. Neither should she be made to suffer by her family if she chooses to not abort and give birth to her daughters. Instead, she should be given the tool to implicate anyone forcing her to abort against her own wishes and provided with a strong support system to help her adjust with the choices she had to make (especially in the Indian/South Asian societal fabric). It's understandeable that this law might be misused just like the 498a but it could help a great deal more than banning abortions altogether.

2. Education
By education, I mean awareness through workshops, seminars, discussion groups at universities, at big companies, local community centers, media etc. Make people aware of the problem that's existing, its consequences and implications for the future, the remedial measures, and confidence in the merits of a girl child.

3. Empowerment of women
This involves keeping tabs on the status of women in society through indicators such as: female foeticide, sex ratios, domestic abuse, dowry related abuse, literacy rate, mortality rate, occupational standing, economic or financial contribution etc. Keeping these indicators in mind, campaigns should be designed to promote awareness about issues affecting women the worst. Media should be involved to communicate the seriousness of the aforementioned issues to the society. Legislations that are in place to look after the needs of affected women must be adhered to. There must be more avenues where women can seek help when needed. There should be telephone helplines affordable by even the poorest women. Effective complaint registration and immediate follow-up is a must. Anonymity, when requested, must be respected.

Read more Potential Solutions Here.

What do you think?

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pakistani women buried alive ...

... because they dared to fall in love.

This news has made headlines on various newspapers.

Israr Ullah Zehri, who represents Baluchistan province, told a stunned [Pakistani] parliament that northwestern tribesman had done nothing wrong in first shooting the women and then dumping them in a ditch.

"These are centuries-old traditions, and I will continue to defend them," he said.

"Only those who indulge in immoral acts should be afraid."

The women, three of whom were teenagers and whose "crime" was that they wished to choose who to marry, were still breathing as mud and stones were shovelled over their bodies, according to Human Rights Watch.

The three girls, thought to be aged between 16 and 18, were kidnapped by a group of men from their Umrani tribe and murdered in Baba Kot, a remote village in Jafferabad district.

According to some reports, Baluchistan government vehicles were used to abduct the girls, and the killing was overseen by a tribal chief who is the brother of a provincial minister from the ruling Pakistan People's Party.

Some accounts said that two older relatives had tried to intervene, but they too were shot and buried alive with the teenagers.

Loving someone and choosing own partner to marry is immoral whilst killing is not???? Here is the picture of the man who defends killing but mocks a young person's desire to love ...

It was a woman senator Bibi Yasmin Shah who raised this issue in the Pakistani Senate.

How did the Senate react?

With silence. Only three other senators supported Bibi Yasmin Shah, the rest kept quiet.


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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Refuse Sex-selective Abortion, and Get Killed

For all the anti-abortionists who equate female foeticide to their stance on abortion due to reasons other than sex-selection, the difference lies in the following:
A woman in India has been killed who refused requests from her husband and his family to undergo a sex-selection abortion on her unborn baby girl. Neelam Kumar, who lives in Samaspur village in northern India, was allegedly strangled to death by her in-laws.

The victim's brother, Sushil Kumar, filed a complaint with police and alleged that his sister was killed yesterday after refusing the abortion.

According to a UPI report, Kumar said Neelam's body was cremated and that her husband family informed no one of her death and cremation. Police are apparently searching for Neelam's in-laws, who are reportedly on the lam.
This is sadly the reality for women not just in India but in any country that practices son-preference. Women are emotionally and physically abused if they refuse to abort. I've seen a couple of cases myself. A lady was forced to drink acid. Another was threatened divorce. The one who was forced to drink acid still lives with burnt oesophagus and had to agree to abort at the end anyway. Same for the other. She lives with the regret of losing her child but she had to save her marriage for 'societal' sake. Both of them are from well-to-do upper class families.

Do you still think that the same arguments that apply for abortions (used by people who call themselves pro-lifers) can be used for female foeticide? Who is more important? A mother's life or fetus?


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Why only the Father's Name?

Contributed by Sonia C

Hi all,

Read this wonderful article by Hetal Vyas in Mumbai Mirror where the High Court went out of their way to help a young girl who refused to fill in the `Father's Name' category for her passport.

Her situation is heartrending, but indeed, not uncommon. My maid was telling me her story only yesterday. She had left her abusive and dowry-demanding husband. He didn't help at all with her three children, either financially or otherwise. She brought them up all on her own (can't stop admiring her nerves of steel). Finally, she was enraged when her child's school refused admission unless she brought a letter from her husband, and his birth certificate. "I don't know where that drunkard is. He hasn't met us in 5 years. From where will I get his birth certificate?"she pleaded. But the authorities refused to budge. Finally, she had to spend a month's salary on getting some false documents made. She was mad with anger. "I've kept my children in my stomach for 9 months. I have endured the labour pains. I have worked hard to pay for the clothes they wear; the food they eat. I have fed them and washed them. Yet, all they want is the father's name, who doesn't even care about them." This incident has scarred her for life. But I was glad to see that anger in her. It is needed. It's worrying when people stop getting bothered and just accept things.

Read the fabulous story below. Please write to the editors on mirrirfeedback@indiatimes.com. Also Mumbai Mirror is holding a poll on the same issue. The poll is "SHould Father's Name be mandatory in documents". For SMS - Type MTPOLL, leave a space, and send your opinion to 58888. OR email mumbaitalking@indiatimes.com and leave your opinion. You can also call 22735700 and leave your opinion. The results will be out. tomorrow, so bombard them with a `No' people!

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Book: The Forbidden Daughter by Shobhan Bantwal

I haven't read the book myself but according to online reviews, the theme of the book is founded in the practice of female foeticide. Critics are not too pleased with the content of the book but suggest that it is worth a look. You can read more about it here.