emancipation far away

If women are allowed by their husbands to leave their home for work: that’s not any emancipation, mostly it’s only supervised work under bad conditions: In Bangladesh for example, where just 100 female workers lost their life by a fire in a clothing factory. In India still “dowry death” is a problem, the killing of little girls, nearly not a genocide but a “femicide” as activist Rita Banerji from Calcutta writes (watch her photo document below). China managed to bring extremely down the female birth level: with absurd results. My daughters (an architect and a banker) – can they be glad, that they were born in Europe and not in Arabia, India, China? But equal human rights: that had been a global promise or not?
Beating the pavement heat
photo by Rita Banerji, Calcutta, click on the picture to enter her galleries on flickr. She comments: THE “50 MILLION MISSING” IS A CAMPAIGN AGAINST FEMALE GENOCIDE IN INDIA. MORE THAN 50 MILLION WOMEN HAVE BEEN KILLED IN INDIA IN LESS THAN A CENTURY. PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION AT http://www.50millionmissing.in = http://genderbytes.wordpress.com/


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32 responses to “emancipation far away

  1. dear Rita,
    you wrote
    “the more power you have in society,
    the more violence you can inflict…”

    frizz / Dietmar / me:
    your resumée is
    not only related to gender battles,
    but also hits the nail for
    what we can watch at organizing wars
    (I don’t like Germany’s growing weapon exports)
    or financial corruption
    (I still like the Occupy Wall Street movement)
    of course maybe not as cruel as the killing of women in India
    but without any morality, done by
    mostly educated people: too …
    don’t know, if blogging has any chance
    to bring some self-doubt into
    the intellectual elite of some countries …


    • violence world wide –
      hidden behind wonderful results of aesthetic photography –
      too far away for a reality check …
      City Lights 2012 - Flat map
      title=”City Lights 2012 – Flat map by NASA Goddard Photo
      – a nice screensaver to soothe our souls isn’t it?
      it seems there is space enough to escape from violence –
      but only a few of us have the capability and power and courage (and money?)
      to leave bad regions …


  2. Dietmar, Thank you so much for making this post. And you’ve pushed this discussion and issue many times! And it is always interesting to me that people assume two things wrongly. 1)things are getting better [By better I assume they mean, Indians are killing fewers daughters, daughters-in-law and widows and women]. The truth is — it is not getter “better.” They are killing more and more every year. The rate at which girls under 6 years were being killed was 40% in the last census — around 2001. The new estimate by the UN is 75% mortality rate by the 2011 census (almost double). A survey of women burnt to death around 1989-90 was about 25000 women. A survey around 2009 (just hospital records; not women who died and no report was made in a hospital or police station) was 106000. The number of women (widows) who are labeled as witches and killed so people can take their property is spread to every state now, even states that historically never had it. Ultimately the reason of India’s female genocide and the way to stop it is no different from any other genocide — the Jewish genocide, the Tutsi genocide etc. 2) The other thing people are saying here are give people education. Educate girls and women. People like to comfort themselves with that. But the truth as the census shows is that it is only the illiterate — the bottomost 20% who have a normal sex ratio on India. They don’t kill their daughters. But the more education and money they have — the more daughters they kill, the more dowry they take, the more wives they kill. The worst sex ratio is in the top most 20%. The reason is the more power you have in society, the more violence you can inflict. The same as with any genocide. I explain it in this video here http://genderbytes.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/video-six-wide-spread-forms-of-femicide-in-india/ I hope you will do a post asking these two question Dietmar !! If people don’t get this illusion out of their head, we can never move forward to stop this. And you are exactly right — how are people justifying and trying to rationalize these killings? Would they say of the Nazis — they killed the Jews for economic reasons? But the truth is — many people at that time said exactly that. And that’s why so many Jews got killed. We don’t learn our lesson from history?


  3. killing, whatever a reason is created to apologize – should not be accepted


  4. Consider this:
    You and your spouse have 2 boys already and wish for a girl. The third one is a boy. Again. A few years later the mom is pregnant but this time with Twins, a girl and a boy. Complications arise and only one baby can be saved. Which one would you chose. Don’t forget, you already have 3 boys.

    So there can be scenarios were its more understandable to chose one Gender over another. It just varies person to person how extreme the circumstances have to be to be acceptable. And in addition to personal tendencies you also have cultural background, personal experience and peer pressure which can push choices into certain direction. A few exceptional individuals might be immune but overall these pressure will find their way into the statistics.

    Do I like that people make choices which I don’t agree with? No. But first I have to understand their motives and then I will be able to bring my point across better. Simple vilifying is to easy and fruitless but could be a convenient way to feel better about oneself, who is sooo much better…


    • Sounds like what many Indians say. And I say — I bet there are people you have in your intimate / friend, family circle who’ve done that! This is defensiveness that comes from guilt and denial and actually tacit support of this kind of lethal misogyny. YOu know what you speaking to a German man’s blog here. You heard of Hitler’s eugenics program right? The film ‘Boys from Brazil’ was made exactly to make this point. What if Hitler and his whole Nazi machinery was functioning in the 70s and 80s instead of the 40s? Think about this genetic techniques are used to ensure that children with dark eyes and hair are not born, and suddenly, you look around and all the children have blonde hair and blue eyes. I bet there were many in Europe who’d be offering the same type of argument as you just have. And we know as a human civilization the mentality that feeds this is bigoted, inhumane, terrifying and barbaric!


  5. I was born in India, but I am a luck girl, for my parents (mostly my mother) believed in educating her girls and teaching them how to be independent and letting them choose their lives. I am grateful to her. But yes, society in India is still backward. Change is brewing though and I am eagerly waiting for that day when the girl child will not be unwanted in these countries. I recently wrote a post. More interesting than the post was the comment by one of my readers. If you can, check it out – http://thechangerevolution.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/turning-oppresion-into-opportunitiy-the-half-the-sky-movement/


  6. You are writing after my own heart. Thanks so much for sharing and now I’m going to pass this post on. Have you read “Half the Sky” or seen the new documentary on it? Life changing book on women’s rights and changed me forever.


  7. Why? So sad. It just doesn’t make sense.


  8. Female feticide is a problem in many countries, also closer to home! However, when looking closely at the numbers and locations where it takes place, it is not so much the countryside that sees these increased numbers in abortion, but the cities and mainly well-done, educated (this all of a sudden seems to become a relative term…) families familiar with the current technologies and the means to use them. Though governments try to turn these trends around, for example by making it illegal to state a fetus’ sex during an ultrasound, way are always found to find out what you are expecting.

    Sadly enough, boy:girl ratios of 120:100 or so, also means increasing issues on the ‘marriage market’, playing into the hands of bride buying, human trafficking etc. Something that is overlooked when the ‘smart choice’ is to go for a boy: who is left to marry him?

    A good book is ‘Unnatural Selection’ by Mara Hvistendahl – I found it to be a real eye opener.

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention :)


  9. It’s terrible what we hear and things are not as they should be… :-/

    But maybe there is in our part of the world a hidden agenda to keep our focus on the others – in order to disguise how we do ourselves, in the so-called civilized world – for example, it is easier to be male head than female leader – we are very more sexist in Europe – Indira Gandhi could easier be a female head in India than for example Helle Thorning in Denmark, Merkel in Germany could be leaders in Europe to name 2 – we act strangely towards female head also leaders in the “smaller” functions…

    We “only” accepted female leaders if they stand up peeing and act like a man other ways too… :-)


  10. I am proud to be an Indian, of the broad and secular mindsets that Indians have. But it is unfortunate that even today female infanticide exists. I learnt about this at a very young age, when my friend told me she was glad she wasn’t born in her ancestral village. Popular media that portray women as aesthetically pleasing objects, only makes the situation worse. This situation has actually become worse in ‘modern times’. The respect for women has deteriorated drastically over the past few decades.


    • you write: “The respect for women has deteriorated
      drastically over the past few decades…”
      question: so it is not an old tradition, which has to be discussed / extinguished –
      it’s also a problem of modern gender hierarchy?
      – and it is not the result of being poor?


      • Its all of them combined – an old practice (I wouldn’t use the term tradition).Poverty can be a reason in poor places, but not in towns. Its more to do with education (not merely literacy). I’m not sure of facts, but I think I read somewhere that gender ratios are more skewed now than before, and more so in larger towns,


        • For many, having a son in India, still means getting an obedient daughter in law to provide elder care, male heirs, gifts and dowry. Those who see sons as Budhape ka sahara and daughters as Paraya Dhan are unlikely to see them as equals and are likely to prefer male children. Education and prosperity has not changed people’s attitude.

          Seeing daughters as ‘paraya dhan’ means wanting to see them married off ‘at the right age’, preferably within the caste/community, with negotiated dowry and feasting. The parents of daughters (the Ladki wale) are still responsible for raising obedient, respectful, educated and capable of earning daughters-in-law (but willing to allow in laws to decide whether or not they should work) . The task is challenging, it is feared that a confident and bold daughter – (frequently, words like ‘bold’, ‘modern’, ‘free’ and ‘liberal’ are used as negative words) would stay unmarried, or be abused and beaten (to be ‘brought in line’ by her husband/his family), or worse, be divorced. Basically Indian parents-of-daughters are expected to see ‘Get Married and Stay Married or die trying’ as their girl-child’s life purpose.

          Since the parents are expected to give the daughter away to her in laws and then not ‘interfere’ even if there is abuse, it becomes even more difficult. It was always like this but we are hearing more about it now because of media and awareness.

          We might see the situation improve gradually, because now the parents of daughters (and the daughters) have begun to see as possible options, marrying later, not marrying, divorcing and remarrying. This means the desperation to Get Married and Stay Married at any cost (dowry, domestic violence, no freedom, unhappy lives etc) is much reduced. This means more and more Indian daughters are able to make personal choices that may or may not make them ‘Ideal daughters in law’. Also, more and more daughters have started taking care of their parents in old age. Traditionally daughters were/are expected to consider their in laws their family, and generally a daughter in law’s parents couldn’t/still can’t move in or expect any support from their married daughters, particularly if she is living in her in laws home in a Joint Family.


  11. Hard to believe this is the 21st Century….this mentality doesn’t even make any sense to me.


  12. Good post FT. Knew about china but not India. Thanks


  13. Female foeticide and infanticide is a HUGE ongoing problem in India, inspite of several campaings and being highlighted in popular TV shows. An irony in a country which had a highly powerful woman Prime Minister, then President and now several women politicians and business entrepreneurs.


    • “An irony in a country which had a highly powerful woman Prime Minister, then President and now several women politicians and business entrepreneurs…” – yes deepa; we have a female chancellor too in Germany (Angela Merkel and minister von der Leyen), but there are no equal gender quotes here: Scandinavia, France etc. = neighbor countries are much better …


      • Absolutely Dietmar! In India women are gang-raped, gang-lynched and the female political leaders have nothing to say. This month a young women who wonder the elections for Sonia Gandhi in her Delhi constituency was the victim of dowry violence and her 1 year old baby girl were also killed, and that day Sonia Gandhi made a comment to the press about the fashion of Indian women and how they should dress etc. but she had no comment on this young women in her party who got killed by what has become a social disease in India!


      • Wouldn’t equal chance/opportunities be better than quotes? With equal opportunities everybody can decide for themselves if they want to use it.
        Example: Of course every woman should be allowed to command a tank. But its up to her to decide if she wants to. Now if you have a 50/50 Quota and only 20 women decide to become tank commanders then Germany would only be allowed to have 20 male commanders. Only one more men and the quota would not be obeyed anymore. Only 40 Tanks in total? Is that practical? Same in Steelindustry, Mining, Agriculture, Forrestry and so on. You see Quotas are not practical since not all kinds of humans are capable and willing to do all kind of jobs..

        Instead give everybody the chance to do what they want and what they qualify for. Even help them to get qualified if they chose to. You should treasure free education like in Germany and not badmouth your awesome country.


        • my opinion: we do not need any tank commanders at all – wether female neither male – we should use the money for better things … – not only in Germany, a country, which gave tanks to Saudia Arabia – a mistake, as I believe …


          • I’m glad that you agree with most of what I wrote.
            Regarding tank commanders (as if this wasn’t just an obviously hypothetical thought experiment) 40 would be a drastic reduction from what you currently have. Should be good thing then, in your opinion.


  14. On the bright side, there are organizations that provide seed capital only to women to start their own small businesses in these countries – not that that makes an intolerable situation any better but it’s a start… I think the younger generation is starting to take this matter into their own hands as they have a quite different world view from their parents – and it’s mostly because of their exposure to media and the internet…


  15. agree……
    it is so sad………


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