Archive for ‘Gender issues’

25/07/2014

What Happened to India’s Girls? A New U.N. Report On Sex Selection Offers Some Answers – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s census data consistently shows two things: the country’s inexorably expanding population and its deep preference for sons over daughters.

A new United Nations study takes a deep look at how parents keep choosing boys over girls, despite laws that seek to block the use of ultrasounds and other pre-natal tests to determine the sex of an unborn child.

India’ child sex ratio – the number of girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6 — has deteriorated sharply over the past 20 years, dropping to 918 in 2011 from 945 in 1991.

India’s sex gap “demonstrates that the economic and social progress in the country has had minimum bearing on the status of women and daughters in our society,” said Lakshmi Puri, an Indian who is a U.N. assistant secretary general.

Here are five significant takeaways from the U.N. study, written by Mary E. John, a senior fellow at the New Delhi-based Centre for Women’s Development Studies.

Improvements in the Overall Sex Ratio are More Nuanced Than You Think

Since 1991, the number of women per 1,000 men has been rising, though it remains far below normal. In 1991, there were 927 women for every 1,000 men. In 2011, the year of the most recent census, that number had risen to 943. The U.N. study argues that much of the improvement isn’t because fewer girls are being born and surviving into adulthood. In India, in the past, women had a shorter life expectancy than men – unlike the situation in most of the rest of the world. That has changed. Indian women now outlive men, in part because of lifestyle changes and “diseases that take a greater toll on” men.

via What Happened to India’s Girls? A New U.N. Report On Sex Selection Offers Some Answers – India Real Time – WSJ.

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19/06/2014

New Women’s Helpline Widens Efforts to Stop Sexual Violence in India – India Real Time – WSJ

Some of the first calls to a new women’s crisis center in central India were from six women who said they were being hunted in their villages after being branded as witches.

In response, the center sent an emergency team of social workers to the district of Hoshangabad in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh to investigate the claims and rescue the women, who have gone into hiding, said Sarika Sinha, regional manager of the non-profit Action Aid India, which helps run the center called Gauravi.

Among the minefield of issues that women in India navigate, including abuse, violence and torture, single women in rural India who inherit property are sometimes branded witches so that male members of their community can seize the land, said Ms. Sinha.

If these women agreed to be rescued, the first priority would be to get them out of danger and bring them to the center in Bhopal, Ms. Sinha said.

The Gauravi center, which was inaugurated Monday by India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Bollywood actor Aamir Khan is the latest in a string of initiatives to protect women that have started to operate since New Delhi created its own 24-hour helpline for women a week after a 23-year-old student was gang-raped and murdered in December 2012.

Sexual violence has since been widely discussed in India, and the law has been changed to protect women.

The Gauravi center shines a spotlight on women’s issues that seems to be filtering from the capital to other parts of the country. The Delhi helpline is being expanded nationally, including most recently to the central state of Chhatisgarh, according to a news report in the Times of India.

via New Women’s Helpline Widens Efforts to Stop Sexual Violence in India – India Real Time – WSJ.

12/06/2014

BBC News – Another Indian woman found hanging from tree in Uttar Pradesh

A teenager has been found hanging from a tree in a village in northern India, the fourth woman to die in such a way in recent weeks in Uttar Pradesh state.

Anti-rape protest in Kolkata on June 7, 2014

The family of the 19-year-old say she was raped. A post mortem is under way.

It comes just one day after a woman’s body was found hanging from a tree in a remote village elsewhere in the state.

The gang rape and murder of two girls found in similar circumstances last month sparked outrage. Correspondents say more cases are now being reported.

Such attacks have long taken place in Uttar Pradesh, reports the BBC’s Geeta Pandey in Delhi, but recent outrage over sexual violence has meant that every case is being reported to police and getting media coverage.

Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state with more than 200 million people, is also home to a staggering number of poor and it is the poor and the disadvantaged low-caste women who are most at risk of such crimes, our correspondent adds.

The body of the latest victim was found in a village in the state’s Moradabad area, just three hours’ drive from India’s capital, Delhi.

via BBC News – Another Indian woman found hanging from tree in Uttar Pradesh.

06/06/2014

Short skirts, bad stars and chow mein: why India’s women get raped : Reuters

The 2012 Delhi bus rape case and an ever-longer list of rapes and murders in India have prompted politicians and public figures in India to cite plenty of implausible reasons why rape happens and why men brutalise women or portray women in ways that suggest they had it coming. Many people when speaking out tend to minimise the crime or rationalise it in ways that sound to ludicrous to many. We created this list of such comments more than a year ago, but it seems like it’s time to add some new entries.

(Updated June 5, 2014) Babulal Gaur again: ”This is a social crime which depends on men and women. Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong… Until there’s a complaint, nothing can happen,” Gaur told reporters. More, from CNN-IBN: “Unless the person wants, no one can dare touch her. The item numbers in films create a bad environment,” … The minister cited the instance of a Hindi movie actress who was kissed on the cheek by a leading Hollywood actor on stage in Delhi in 2007. The actress had seen nothing wrong with it, he said. He also suggested that women learn karate and judo to defend themselves, CNN-IBN reported. (Reuters and CNN-IBN)

Samajwadi Party leader and Mulayam Singh Yadav’s uncle Ram Gopal Yadav, speaking after the recent rape and hanging of two teenaged girls in Uttar Pradesh: ”vulgarity, obscenity and violence shown on TV channels” was to blame for the multiple incidents of rape and assault in UP. He also said, “In many places, when the relationship between girls and boys come out in open, it is termed as rape.” Mulayam Singh Yadav’s son, UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, suggested that reporters look on Google to see that UP isn’t the only Indian state where rape happens. (NDTV)

Continue Reading…

via India Insight.

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01/05/2014

How Women Lost Out as China’s Property Market Boomed – Businessweek

In 2005, Zhang Yuan and her husband bought an apartment in Beijing for $30,000. Seven years later, in 2012, the same apartment was worth $317,000. Zhang, a professional woman in her 30s, and her husband both contributed money to the down payment and mortgage payments. Only her husband’s name appears on the property deed.

Beijing's central business District is home to high-end housing

At the time the young couple bought their home, Zhang wasn’t thinking much about legal formalities. Men—still regarded as the ostensible heads of households in China—have commonly registered property in their own names.

Since China’s Supreme Court issued a new interpretation of the country’s Marriage Law in 2011, Zhang’s has had second thoughts. The law now stipulates that if a couple divorces and only one person’s name is on the deed, that person—usually a “he”—walks away with full ownership of the marital home.

Since she took two years off work to care for her young child, Zhang has had trouble climbing back onto the career ladder. Today she worries more about money—and her financial dependence on her husband.

According to a 2012 Horizon Research and IFeng.com survey of homeowners in China’s leading cities, men’s names appear on property deeds for marital homes 80 percent of the time, while women’s names appear on just 30 percent of them. “The law is so unfair to women,” Zhang told sociologist Leta Hong Fincher, author of a new book, Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China.

The upshot, as Fincher’s book argues, is that China’s women have a claim that is tenuous, at best, to the country’s burgeoning real estate wealth. “Chinese women have largely missed out on what is arguably the biggest accumulation of residential real-estate wealth in history, valued at around 3.3 times China’s [gross domestic product], according to figures from the bank HSBC,” she writes. “That amounted to over $27 trillion at the end of 2012.”

via How Women Lost Out as China’s Property Market Boomed – Businessweek.

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23/04/2014

Guns and Gowns: Documentary shows two faces of the Indian woman | India Insight

Cosmetic surgeon Jamuna Pai inspects the face of the Miss India contestant before her in Mumbai, furrows her brow and points to a blemish. The verdict: the young woman needs a botox injection in her chin because the “proportions are off by 0.6 percent.”

About 400 kilometres away in the town of Aurangabad, worlds apart from India’s financial capital, a middle-aged woman in a sari lectures adolescent girls about wanting careers.

“How can you deny 5,000 years of evidence that you are the weaker sex? Stop asking for equality,” she thunders to her audience of rapt teenagers in traditional Indian attire.

The two women in Mumbai and Aurangabad, and the subjects of their scrutiny are at the crux of Nisha Pahuja‘s film “The World Before Her,” which opens in Indian cinemas next month.

The documentary juxtaposes two training camps — one for the Durga Vahini (army of Durga), the women’s unit of the right-wing Vishva Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council), and the other for the annual Miss India beauty pageant.

Pahuja said that she wanted to make a film that would explore a common theme in two worlds that at first look like they are opposites. What they have in common, Pahuja said, is that women are constantly being told, often by women themselves, that they are not good enough, whether they are being judged for their perfect legs or being pushed to give in to the patriarchal society.

“And that’s what makes it more dangerous, because it’s a combination of these two extreme perspectives and they are married to each other. That is terrifying. It is regressive ideology masquerading as progress. It will create this bubble, and people won’t be able to see beyond it,” the film-maker said.

“The World Before Her” shows girls at the Durga Vahini camp being taught martial arts and to fire a gun as part of self-defence training. The students are told these skills are essential if they are to defend Hinduism “against the threat of Islam and Christianity.”

Pahuja’s film also puts the spotlight on a boot camp for 19 women contesting in the country’s beauty pageant. Here, they are primped and pushed — often in ways they aren’t comfortable with — to make them fit the exacting standards of a contest winner.

Pahuja started work on the documentary in 2008, and didn’t complete it until four years later. The Canadian-born filmmaker said she wanted to make a documentary on the Miss India contest, but expanded the film’s scope when she heard of right-wing protests against the contest’s swimsuit round.

“It took me two years to get access to the Durga Vahini camp, but when I went there, and met Prachi (one of the camp instructors, a fiery 24-year-old who says she wants to be the next Sadhvi Pragya Singh, a Hindu woman accused of orchestrating terror attacks), I realized that this was a compelling part of the story of the Indian woman,” Pahuja, 46, told India Insight in an interview.

“The World Before Her,” won Best Feature at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, and a clutch of awards at other festivals. The documentary is backed by Indian film-maker Anurag Kashyap and actress Nandita Das.

Pahuja, who was raised in Toronto, said her film was evidence that the two ideologies — the perceived superficial consumerism of the pageant and the fundamentalism of right-wing Hindu groups — co-existed in India.

via Guns and Gowns: Documentary shows two faces of the Indian woman | India Insight.

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01/04/2014

The Links Between the Delhi and Mumbai Rape Cases – India Real Time – WSJ

The two crimes were strikingly similar: In both, a young, ambitious woman was gang-raped by a group of impoverished men in one of India’s premier cities.

But their connection didn’t end there.

National outrage at the first case, involving a physiotherapy student who died from her injuries in New Delhi in Dec. 2012, arguably had an impact on how the country reacted to the second, in which a photojournalist in Mumbai was attacked while out on an assignment in an abandoned area of the financial capital.

They are also linked through the law.

The Delhi rape triggered changes to legislation to protect women that were subsequently used to convict the men charged with the attack in Mumbai.

Parts of that toughened up legislation, which made death the maximum penalty for rape in the case of repeat offenders, are also being used, for the first time, against the men guilty of gang-raping the Mumbai photojournalist.

Three of the four men convicted of gang-raping the photojournalist have also been convicted and sentenced to life in prison for gang-raping a telephone receptionist a few weeks earlier at the same location.

This makes them repeat offenders, so eligible for the death penalty, said the public prosecutor when he pressed fresh charges against the men last week in the hope of securing a death sentence for them at a trial court in Mumbai.

In the case of the Delhi victim, the attackers were punished under the previous version of the law, which awarded the death penalty for murder in the rarest of rare cases but set the maximum penalty for rape to a life term of 14 years.

The trial judge in the case in Mumbai allowed the prosecutor to introduce the new charge of repeated offense before sentencing began, but the defense lawyers appealed against the decision in the high court. The defense also challenged the constitutional validity of handing the death penalty to repeat gang-rape offenders.

The Mumbai High Court rejected the defense’s appeal against the fresh charges but refrained from expressing  its view on the “tenability of framing additional charge.”

The judges added that their decision not to interfere in the trial court hearing fresh charges should not be construed as approval.

The High Court judges also observed that sentencing repeat gang-rape offenders to death could bypass the “rarest of rare” criteria, which has long been invoked to prevent judges from using the death penalty too frequently or in an arbitrary manner.

via The Links Between the Delhi and Mumbai Rape Cases – India Real Time – WSJ.

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30/03/2014

Accomplished women in India face higher risk of domestic violence: study | India Insight

Women in India who are more educated than their husbands, earn more or are the sole earners in their families face a higher risk of domestic violence than women who are more dependent on their partners, according to a new study.

Much of India is still deeply patriarchal and there are wide gaps in the status of men and women. And this form of violence could be a way for men to reassert their power or maintain social control over their wives to preserve the “status quo” in the relationship, said the study’s author Abigail Weitzman.

Weitzman, a graduate student at New York University, looked at data from the female-only module of India’s National Family Health Survey (NFHS) collected between 2005 and 2006, concentrating on married women.

The study found that compared to women less educated than their husbands, women with more education face 1.4 times the risk of violence from their partners, 1.54 times the risk of frequent violence, and 1.36 times the risk of severe violence.

The study appeared in the latest issue of the Population and Development Review, a peer-reviewed journal published by the Population Council, an international non-profit organization that conducts research on development issues.

“The result of such violent responses may in turn prevent some women from pursuing employment or greater earnings opportunities either because they have been injured or because the material benefits of such opportunities no longer outweigh the physical costs at home,” the study said.

via Accomplished women in India face higher risk of domestic violence: study | India Insight.

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26/03/2014

2nd-child policy hurts female job application – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

China has loosened its family planning policy by allowing couples to have a second child if either parent is an only child. Unfortunately, the policy has resulted in discrimination against some married women who are looking for jobs or are already employed, according to the Xinhua News agency.

2nd-child policy hurts female job application

Xia Fang, a Changsha local who gave birth to her first child 10 months ago, said that during job interviews she is always asked if she is an only child or if she plans to have a second child.

“I don’t plan to have a second child. But when potential employers learn that my first child is a girl, they think I’m likely to have another baby,” said Xia.

Before the second-child policy was introduced, married women with children and work experience had an advantage in the job market, but now they are being confronted with gender discrimination again, Xia added.

Female employees of child-bearing age are being affected, as well. A white collar worker surnamed Liu said she was passed over for a promotion that went to a young man, because her boss thought she might plan to have a second child.

“Women have to work harder to be given equal status in the workplace. And many face pressure from their families to have second children, which can affect their career prospects,” Liu said.

“Companies can predict the cost of a female employee’s maternity leave when they’re allowed to give birth to only one child,” said Li Bin, a professor of sociology at Zhongnan University. “But some middle and small-sized companies can’t bear the costs of two leaves in a few years.”

via 2nd-child policy hurts female job application – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

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18/01/2014

Teenage German tourist raped on Indian train – The Local

A German charity worker was allegedly raped while sleeping on a train in southern India on Friday – the second European to report a rape in the country within a week.

The teenager was attacked while asleep on a train travelling from Mangalore in western India to Chennai on the east coast, where she was heading to volunteer with a charity.

Police said she was reportedly too scared to shout for help and alert passengers in her carriage, Indian news site NDTV said.

Officers said a man had been arrested in Chennai on suspicion of the rape.

The German, said to be just 18 years old, complained to police on Monday, three days after the alleged attack.

Seema Agarwal, Inspector General of Police, said: “The young lady took several days to muster courage to report to the police. Though it\’s too late for medical examination, we have handled the case in a very sensitive manner,” NDTV reported.

On Tuesday a 51-year-old Danish woman was allegedly robbed and gang-raped in the capital New Delhi. Police said 15 men had been arrested.

via Teenage German tourist raped on Indian train – The Local.

See also: http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2014-01-16/india-police-close-in-on-homeless-men-in-gang-rape

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