Hathras case: Dalit women are among the most oppressed in the world
- Published 6 October 2020
"We are victims of violence because we are poor, lower caste and women, so looked down upon by all," a Dalit woman told researcher Jayshree Mangubhai some years ago. "There is no one to help or speak for us. We face more sexual violence because we don't have any power."
Last week, it was reported that a 19-year-old Dalit woman (the Dalits were once called "Untouchables") was allegedly gang raped and assaulted by a group of upper caste men in Uttar Pradesh state again. The news shone the spotlight again on the rampant sexual violence faced by India's 80 million Dalit women, who like their male counterparts languish at the bottom of India's unbending and harsh caste hierarchy.
These women, who comprise about 16% of India's female population, face a "triple burden" of gender bias, caste discrimination and economic deprivation. "The Dalit female belongs to the most oppressed group in the world," says Dr Suraj Yengde, author of Caste Matters. "She is a victim of the cultures, structures and institutions of oppression, both externally and internally. This manifests in perpetual violence against Dalit women."
The aftermath of the recent rape and murder of a woman in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, allegedly by upper caste men, played out the way it usually does when a Dalit woman is attacked: police are slow to register a complaint; investigations are tardy; officials raise doubts there was a rape; there are insinuations it had nothing to do with caste; and authorities appear, perhaps, to be complicit in siding with the upper caste perpetrators of violence. Even some of the media, from newsrooms dominated by upper caste journalists, question why sexual violence should be linked to caste.
In other words, the state and parts of society in India conspire to downplay or erase the links between sexual violence and the hierarchies of caste.
After the alleged rape in Hathras last week, the government of Uttar Pradesh, which is ruled by an upper caste politician belonging to the ruling BJP party, hastily cremated the victim in the middle of the night and briefly barred the media and opposition politicians from visiting the victim's village and family, prompting suspicions of a cover up. In an unprecedented move, the government hired a private public relations agency to push its narrative that this was not an incident of rape.
Dalit women across swathes of rural India have been victims of sexual violence for as long as anyone can remember. In these regions, much of the land, resources and social power remain with the upper and middle castes. Despite a 1989 law to prevent atrocities against the community, there was no let-up in violence against Dalit women. They continue to be stalked, abused, molested, raped and murdered with impunity.
Ten Dalit women were raped every day in India last year, according to official figures. The northern state of Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of cases of violence against women as well as the highest number of cases of sexual assault against girls. Three states - Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan - report more than half of the cases of atrocities against the Dalits.
In a 2006 study of 500 Dalit women in four states across India on the forms of violence they had faced, 54% had been physically assaulted; 46% had been sexually harassed; 43% had faced domestic violence; 23% had been raped; and 62% had been verbally abused.
And Dalit women bear the brunt of violence of all castes, including their own. The Centre for Dalit Rights group examined 100 incidents of sexual violence against Dalit women and girls across 16 districts in India between 2004 and 2013. It found that 46% of the victims were aged below 18 and 85% were less than 30 years old. The perpetrators of the violence came from 36 different castes, including Dalit.
One of the reasons why the Dalits - especially women - bear the brunt of the violence is because they have begun to speak up.
The turning point in the history of violence against Dalit women in India was in 2006, when four members of a Dalit family - a woman, her 17-year-old daughter, and two sons - were brutally murdered by upper caste men after a protracted conflict over land. The incident in a remote village called Khairlanji in Maharashtra state began with the two women going to the police to file a complaint over a land dispute with upper castes in the village. "This gruesome incident stirred the conscience of Dalits and highlighted their social suffering and discrimination," says historian Uma Chakravarti.
The upper castes have been rattled by increasing assertion by Dalits and have been striking back. In the Hathras case last week, reports suggest the family of the victim had a two-decade long dispute with an upper caste family.
Around the country, social transformations are sending Dalit girls to school and pushing Dalit women and feminist groups to make their voices heard. "Like never before, a solid Dalit women leadership is articulating its own grievances and leading the struggle without anyone else's intervention," says Dr Yengde.
Dalit women are fighting back. And the backlash appears to be more brutal than ever. "Earlier the violence was invisible and unreported," says Manjula Pradeep, a leading Dalit rights activist. "Now we have visibility. Now we are stronger and more assertive. Much of the violence now is to remind us of our boundaries."
Read more stories by Soutik Biswas
- Are Indian state police trying to discount a woman's story of rape?
- Why are India's Dalit students taking their lives?
- Why are Dalits in Narendra Modi's Gujarat angry?
- Is the free market improving lives of India's Dalits?
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Reliable supply of 24-hour electricity in the State of Madhya Pradesh since 2014 has transformed the lives of many, including women from low-income households. An Asian Development Bank project—Enhancing Energy-Based Livelihoods for Women Micro-Entrepreneurs—validates how women can be empowered through capacity development in efficient use of electricity and energy-based enterprises, and provision of business development services. The case study builds up on the project progress so far, showcasing women who, along with their sense of personal empowerment, have increased their incomes and savings through microenterprises. The case study reaffirms that a steady supply of electricity, coupled with capacity development, helps create an arena where men and women are accorded equal participation in business opportunities.
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10 Cases In India & Around The World In 2020 That Show Gender Equality Is A Far Cry
- Sugandha Bora
- December 21, 2020
Every single year we witness a hoard of ‘humanists and equalists’ levying arguments against feminism . Across social media, we are mansplained about how we need to advocate advancements on basis of merit and not gender. Have we forgotten that for centuries women didn’t have rights, a voice or opportunities? One would think the narrative would have changed, and yet 2020 has been a painful reminder of how gender equality remains a distant dream, not just in India, but globally.
Here are 10 cases from India and around the world this year which show that gender equality is anything, but reality:
The Shadow Pandemic
There was an exponential rise in the reported cases of domestic violence against women during COVID-19 induced lockdown.
In South America, emergency calls for domestic violence cases in Argentina increased by 25 percent since the lockdown began. Helplines in Singapore and Cyprus registered a rise in calls of more than 30 per cent. In the USA, the National Domestic Violence Hotline reported a rising number of victims who reached out. In India, over 30 percent women suffered physical and sexual violence by their spouses in five out of 22 surveyed states and Union territories in the country.
Evidence shows that, even before the pandemic, one in three women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. The pandemic aggravated incidents of domestic violence of mental, physical and sexual nature.
Also Read: You Can Use This Domestic Abuse Hand Signal To Alert Others
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Sexist remarks against indian female politicians.
A lot of sexist remarks have been passed against female politicians in India from time and again. This year, the two most highlighted incidents are the derogatory comments on Sonia Gandhi and Imarti Devi.
After a menacing tirade by Arnab Goswami against Sonia Gandhi, the trolls didn’t leave a chance to insult and abuse on social media. From addressing her with her maiden name in belittling manner to trending #bardancer hashtag on Twitter, the social media reeked of sheer toxicity and misogyny owing to the slander campaign against her. In fact, on December 9, when leaders from across the political spectrum wished her on her 74th birthday, Twitter was blowing up with derogatory comments and jokes on her, with # BarDancerDay trending all day.
Similarly, Kamal Nath, former CM of Madhya Pradesh passed sexist remarks on Imarti Devi, the BJP leader from the state in a public gathering. “ Wo kya hai… main uska naam kyun lun… aapko mujhe satark karna chahiye tha… kya item hai… (Who is she… What’s her name? You all should have warned me… what an item!),” Kamal Nath said.
This led to an outrage over his remarks, but Kamal Nath was hell-bent on not apologising for his comments. He argued that he didn’t say anything disrespectful and his words were taken out of context.
Also Read: Sonia Gandhi Won’t Celebrate Her Birthday This Year In View Of Farmers’ Protests, COVID-19 Situation: Report
Rape threats to Ziva Dhoni
After the defeat of Chennai Super Kings in a match with Kolkata Knight Riders in the thirteenth edition of IPL, the trolls bombarded Mahendra Singh Dhoni with abuses. Shockingly, an user issued rape threats against his five-year-old daughter Ziva Dhoni on social media.
Later, it was found that the user was a 16-year-old boy from Gujarat. He was arrested by the Gujarat Police and then sent to Ranchi for further interrogation. The minor confessed to have posted the threats due to the defeat of Dhoni’s team in IPL 2020.
The minor was kept in a child rehabilitation center during the interrogation. Similar incidents have been reported in the past, where the women and girls related to the cricketers are targeted and trolled for their weak performance in the matches. Anushka Sharma has had her share of trolls when Virat Kohli failed to play well. Moreover, a minor threatening a five-year-old with rape to let his frustration out speaks a lot about all-pervasive misogyny, where a toddler is dragged into such issues which have nothing to do with her.
Also Read: Dhoni’s Little Daughter Gets Rape Threats For His Poor Performance. Is India A Country For Women?
Dubai princess Sheikha Latifa is still held captive by her father
The princess of Dubai Sheikha Latifa has been held captive by her father, Mohammed Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and the Vice President of UAE. She attempted twice to escape from Dubai in order to lead a freer life without harsh restrictions, which she couldn’t because of her family.
In her second attempt of escape in 2008, she was caught and sent back to Dubai. She hasn’t been seen and heard after her capture. Media and human rights organisations raised their voices against this unlawful captivity by her father, and also alleged torture. All because she wanted to exercise her right to freedom and choice.
#freelatifa is an active campaign devoted to free the princess from the imprisonment by her father. Recently, UN released a statement condemning the unjust capture of Sheikha Latifa and asked the ruler of Dubai to release her.
Also Read: Sheikha Latifa, The Dubai Princess Abducted By Her Father
Hathras Rape Incident
Coming back to our very own country now. The rampant physical and sexual violence against women puts every Indian to shame. The gaping wound of Hathras incident in Uttar Pradesh in our minds is still fresh. It threw the harsh and inhuman realities of gender and caste-based atrocities in the country in our faces.
A Dalit girl died after reporting that she was gang-raped and brutally assaulted by four upper caste men. This heinous act was most likely a revenge by them, due to the feud with the family of the girl. Her family also reported harassment on grounds of caste.
This incident caught worldwide attention for a number of reasons. From the police and some media houses denying the fact that the rape happened to associations of savarna castes supporting the accused, this case highlighted the plight of people from lower castes. Not to forget how the police cremated the body without her family’s permission at night, reflecting how they are denied the right to dignity even after death.
Moreover, it is statistically evident that Dalit women are more vulnerable to sexual violence than savarna women. On average, 10 Dalit women were raped every day in India last year, according to official figures, and Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of cases of violence against women of any state.
Also Read: Is It Fair To Compare Hathras To Nirbhaya For Political Vendetta?
Statements of Markandey Katju and Mukesh Khanna
Amidst the Hathras incident, former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju received thunderous backlash for his insensitive comments. Katju blamed the rising unemployment for the increase in rape incidents and how sex is a ‘natural urge in men’. He was slammed for perpetuating rape culture with his statement. Furthermore, he was thrashed for shifting the blame from the rapists to economic problems and reducing women to objects for sexual gratification.
pic.twitter.com/xOXQ1AkzSy — Markandey Katju (@mkatju) September 30, 2020
After a few months, renowned actor Mukesh Khanna received criticism for his comments on working women. In an interview, he stated, “Men and women are different. Both of them are different in terms of their creation. Women’s domain is to take care of household chores. The issue of MeToo began when women started working outside the house. Today, women talk about working shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts.”
Also Read: Mukesh Khanna’s Remark On #MeToo Tells Us Why Gender Equality Is Still A Distant Dream
Loujain Al-Hathloul’s trial began in ‘terrorism court’
On December 10, Saudi women’s activist Loujain al-Hathloul was put on closed trial in ‘terrorism court’ after two years of imprisonment. She is one of the important faces of the Saudi women’s rights activism in the country, especially right to drive. Moreover, she is an ardent dissenter who opposes the male-guardianship system in Saudi Arabia. Loujain was arrested along with various other campaigners on the charges of “ undermining the kingdom’s security, stability and national unity ,” as reported by Saudi Press Agency.
United Nations Organisation and other human rights organisations have firmly called for the release of all the activists arrested for demanding their rights. “We are extremely alarmed to hear that Ms al-Hathloul has been in detention for more than two years on spurious charges, is now being tried by a Specialized Terrorism Court. Just because she was exercising her fundamental rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association” said Elizabeth Broderick, chair of the UN working group on discrimination against women and girls, in a statement. Furthermore, the organisations have alleged torture of her in prison.
Also Read: Saudi Feminist Political Prisoner Loujain Al-Hathloul’s Trial Begins
Iran Government sentencing an influencer to jail for 10 years
In Iran, Fatemeh Khisvand, who was popular as zombie Angelina Jolie, has been sentenced to jail for 10 years. A report in Guardian report stated that the 19-year-old was accused of corruption of youngsters and irreverence for the Islamic Republic. Other charges include “blasphemy, inciting violence, gaining income through inappropriate means and encouraging youths to corruption.”
Fatemeh stated, “The Islamic Republic has a history of tormenting women. We need to be united against this gender apartheid.” Sahar was sentenced to 10 years in October 2019, although she was in news in 2020.
Also Read: Iranian Instagrammer Popularly Known As ‘Zombie Angelina Jolie’ Jailed For Ten Years
Rise in Egypt’s moral policing of women
An Egyptian court sentenced five women to jail and a hefty fine for ‘violating public morals’ on Tiktok and other social media platforms. Egypt has cracked down in recent years on female singers and dancers for online content deemed too racy or suggestive.
Haneen Hossam, a 20-year-old student from Cairo, was charged over encouraging young women to meet men through a video app and explore friendships, receiving a fee according to the number of followers watching these chats. Mawada al-Adham, a TikTok and Instagram influencer with around 2 million followers, was accused of posting indecent photos and videos on social media.
The three other women were charged with helping Hossam and Al-Adham manage their social media accounts, according to the public prosecution.
(1) Today, you’ll find many tweeting #بعد_اذن_الاسرة_المصرية . They started at 1 pm (Cairo time) & will continue through the day to raise attention ahead of 2 expected verdicts this week for 3 Egyptian female TikTok users: Haneen Hosam & Mawada El-Adham (7/27) & Manar Samy (7/29). pic.twitter.com/fxoTvRewmN — Mai El-Sadany (@maitelsadany) July 26, 2020
Did you know Egypt still runs virginity tests? And that it’s chasing down women influencers on #TikTok instead of handling a pandemic? because chastity y’all! #بعد_اذن_الاسرة_المصرية https://t.co/49dqS9XoOn — Nana (@Nabuels) July 27, 2020
Two women today in Egypt got sentenced Two years and 300,000 EGP fine for just dancing and singing on #TikTok @ncwegypt is a complicit in this injustice by their silence. This is injustice , misogyny and a serious violation of digital freedom. #بعد_اذن_الاسرة_المصرية — س (@Saldroite) July 27, 2020
Also Read: 10 Things To Know About Egyptian Model Salma al-Shimi’s Arrest Over An “Offensive” Photoshoot
Rise in Gender Inequality due to Covid -19
Even a pandemic is sexist in nature, why? This is because women are facing the brunt of economic collapse more than men. The report COVID-19 and gender equality : Countering the regressive effects by McKinsey Global Institute, estimates that women make up almost two-fifths of the global labour force but have suffered more than half of total job losses from the crisis. That’s left them 1.8 times more vulnerable to the pandemic’s impact than men.
The rise is mostly due to the increase in the burden of unpaid care for children, the elderly and sick. This task has mostly been taken up by women. Moreover, existing gender inequalities exacerbate this situation. Apart from this, more women are getting demoted and salary cuts than their male counterparts.
In underprivileged households, many families are getting their daughters married off due to increasing financial difficulties due to the pandemic. Many young girls have been forced to drop out of schools for financial problems and digital divide. Also, many basic amenities like menstrual hygiene products have become inaccessible to many girls.
Also Read: COVID-19 Pandemic: The Year Of Survival For Women Entrepreneurs
Sugandha Bora is an intern with SheThePeople.
Resources For Educators
Welcome to Making Caring Common’s Resources for Educators, Teachers, Counselors, School Administrators, and School Leaders!
We offer strategies, resources lists, audits, surveys, discussion guides, and more, which we hope you will use in your school. You can review the list of resources below or click to sort by the following topics: Bias, Bullying, Caring and Empathy, Gender, Leadership, Moral and Ethical Development, Romantic Relationships, School Culture and Climate, Sexual Harassment and Misogyny, Social-Emotional Learning (SEL), and Talking Across the Aisle.
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Gender Bias Case Study
Despite the progress girls and women have made in school and the workplace in the past few decades, a gender gap still persists, and our research suggests that biases could be at the root of this gap., gender bias and discrimination is surprisingly common in many schools and sometimes happens beneath school staff’s radar. as adults, we can shed light on these important topics that often go undiscussed at school. these discussions can be challenging. for some youth, this is an immensely personal or even heated topic that brings up questions of equality and privilege. others may question whether gender biases even exist. finally, the idea that biases can be implicit—and discrimination unconscious—may itself be a novel concept to some teenagers., fortunately, the payoff in broaching these topics is huge. by allowing children to explore this topic, share ideas for improvement, and participate in community-building and empathy-promoting activities, you are taking steps towards ensuring that your classroom or school is a place where everyone is respected, supported, and empowered..
Overview For: Educators Ages: Middle School and High School Resource Type: Case Study
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Case Study and Discussion
The following reading exercise includes three short stories of bias and discrimination that are common in many high schools. These stories are designed to facilitate discussion about the effects of gender bias and discrimination and promote empathy and perspective taking skills. Have students read the case study and then use the questions to facilitate a follow-up discussion.
Adams High School: A Case Study
Jessica had loved playing soccer since she was a little kid, and she was the star player on the co-ed soccer team at her school. When she transferred to Adams High School in the middle of her junior year, she was surprised to hear there was no co-ed team—instead she would play on the all girls’ team. While Jessica enjoyed playing on the girls’ team and met some really talented players there, she quickly realized that the boys’ team had much nicer uniforms, had the best practice spaces, and were the ones that were celebrated in school announcements and rallies. The girls were good too, but got way less attention. In gym class, Jessica had her chance to take on the boys on the field, though. She was better than almost everyone and pretty regularly scored tough goals against the varsity boys’ teams’ star player, Jeremy. After one particularly brutal game where Jessica scored several goals against the boys, Jeremy and his soccer friends decided that they didn’t want to play against Jessica any more. In front of the entire gym class, Jeremy called Jessica “the beast” and made cracks about her being too athletic for any guy at Adams to date. The other students in the class giggled nervously, but no one said anything.
Nate was a junior at Adams and was trying to figure out what he wanted to do after high school. He had decided not to go into his father’s restaurant business and was exploring career options. He had a bunch of younger cousins that he sometimes watched and he knew that he had always gotten along well with kids. He thought sometimes about joining the for-credit childcare program at Adams to see if professional childcare might be a good fit, but he always decided against it; those programs only had girls in them. If he joined the childcare program the other guys in school would never let it go. He signed up for shop class instead—it was less interesting to him, but at least he’d be with the guys and wouldn’t get teased.
Ms. Phillips was the guidance counselor at Adams. She had been trying to set up a visit from the CEO of the biggest tech firm in town for almost two months. Many Adams students wanted to work there after college and Ms. Phillips wanted the CEO to talk with the students about the company and the type of employees it hired. On the day of the event, Ms. Phillips was not surprised when over 30 students showed up. All but two were boys. As they waited for the CEO to arrive, the students chatted about what the CEO would say—what type of advice would he give? Where would he recommend they go to college and what would he say they should study? What kind of fancy car would he drive to the school? When the CEO arrived in the classroom, all of the students looked surprised and a few looked confused. A few even made snide comments under their breath. The person standing in front of them was a woman.
Once students have read the case study, use the following questions to facilitate a discussion that will help students understand how common and harmful gender-related biases and discrimination can be, and allow students to think about solutions. In your discussion, encourage students to think about each character’s perspective and to understand and appreciate their feelings (empathy).
Understanding others’ feelings is just the beginning, though—it is important to encourage students to act upon those feelings of empathy and to reach out to those who are victims of gender bias. As your students read the case and answer the questions, encourage them to think about what their best or “ideal” selves would do in this case, as opposed to what they would actually do. Ask them to think about why there is a gap between their “ideal” selves and their actual behavior. What gets in the way of them doing the right thing? Ask them to consider how they might close this gap.
Potential Obstacles and Tips
Students don’t take the cases seriously or don’t show empathy for the characters. Remind students that everyone has felt mistreated or discriminated against for some reason at one point or another. It may be helpful to have students engage in a reflective exercise where they think or write about a time when they have felt judged or mistreated by their peers. Ask students how they would have liked to have been treated in their own situation.
Students seem to care about the characters’ feelings, but they don’t know how to help. Try opening up a class brainstorm session about ways to help or support the characters in this story—for example, they could stick up for Jessica when she is harassed, or they could encourage Nate to join the childcare course.
Students’ responses suggest they care about the characters, but their everyday actions suggest that they don’t care about actual gender discrimination in real life. Try asking students to reflect silently on instances in their own lives where they have seen other students treated differently or badly based on gender. Ask students to reflect on what they could have done to improve the situation.
Students start sharing personal stories aloud. From the beginning of the discussion, encourage students to focus on the case and questions, rather than sharing many personal stories aloud. The sharing of personal stories can be emotionally triggering for some students and can be difficult to manage in a classroom setting. If students attempt to tell many personal stories or the conversation becomes too heated or emotional, re-direct the conversation to focus on the case. If very personal or emotional content is brought up and re-directed, make sure to follow up with individual students after the class period, as needed. It is important that students know that you care about their concerns and experiences.
What is going on at Adams? Is Adams an extreme example of gender discrimination or is it just a typical school? How is your school the same or different than Adams?
Why did no one stand up for Jessica when she was teased? What would you do? What would your best self-have done in this scenario?
Jessica felt that the girls’ team was treated differently than the boys’ team. Why would girls’ teams be treated differently? Why is this a problem? What would you do if you were running sports programs at your school? Would you have co-ed teams?
Nate assumed that the other guys at Adams would tease him about joining a childcare program. Is Nate’s decision harmful? To himself? To others? Why? What would you have done if you were Nate? Why? Have you ever not done an activity because you worried about what others would think?
We’re you surprised that the CEO of the tech company that visited Adams was a woman? Why or why not? Why is it problematic to make assumptions about a person’s gender based on their job or title?
Why is it problematic that so few women are CEOs and that so few are involved in technology development?
What are ways that boys and girls are treated differently in your school? Are any of these ways problematic? If so, why are they problems? What can be done to fix them?
If you were the principal of Adams, what would you do to challenge the gender biases in the school?
Last reviewed October 2018.
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भारत में लिंगभेद, Gender Discrimination in India
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Every child deserves to reach her or his full potential, but gender inequalities in their lives and in the lives of those who care for them hinder this reality.
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Accelerating progress and opportunities across India for every girl and every boy
Wherever they live in India girls and boys see gender inequality in their homes and communities every day – in textbooks, in movies, in the media and among the men and women who provide their care and support.
Across India gender inequality results in unequal opportunities, and while it impacts on the lives of both genders, statistically it is girls that are the most disadvantaged.
Globally girls have higher survival rates at birth, are more likely to be developmentally on track, and just as likely to participate in preschool, but India is the only large country where more girls die than boys . Girls are also more likely to drop out of school.
In India girls and boys experience adolescence differently. While boys tend to experience greater freedom, girls tend to face extensive limitations on their ability to move freely and to make decisions affecting their work, education, marriage and social relationships.
As girls and boys age the gender barriers continue to expand and continue into adulthood where we see only a quarter of women in the formal workplace.
Some Indian women are global leaders and powerful voices in diverse fields but most women and girls in India do not fully enjoy many of their rights due to deeply entrenched patriarchal views, norms, traditions and structures.
India will not fully develop unless both girls and boys are equally supported to reach their full potential.
There are risks, violations and vulnerabilities girls face just because they are girls. Most of these risks are directly linked to the economic, political, social and cultural disadvantages girls deal with in their daily lives. This becomes acute during crisis and disasters.
With the prevalence of gender discrimination, and social norms and practices, girls become exposed to the possibility of child marriage, teenage pregnancy, child domestic work, poor education and health, sexual abuse, exploitation and violence. Many of these manifestations will not change unless girls are valued more.
It is critical to enhance the value of girls by investing in and empowering them, with education, life skills, sport and much more.
By increasing the value of girls we can collectively contribute to the achievement of specific results, some short-term (increasing access to education, reducing anaemia), others medium-term (ending child marriage) and others long-term (eliminating gender-biased sex selection).
Changing the value of girls has to include men, women and boys. It has to mobilize many sectors in society. Only when society’s perception changes, will the rights of all the girls and all the boys in India be fulfilled.
Empowering girls requires focused investment and collaboration. Providing girls with the services and safety, education and skills they need in daily life can reduce the risks they face and enable them to fully develop and contribute to India’s growth.
Girls have an especially difficult time accessing life-saving resources, information and social networks in their daily life. Access to programmes specifically tailored to the needs of girls – with a focus on education and developing life skills, ending violence and incorporating the needs and contributions of girls from vulnerable groups, including those with disabilities, can strengthen the resilience of millions of girls. Long-term solutions designed with and for girls can further strengthen this resilience and be a pathway of transformational and lifelong opportunity for girls.
All girls, especially adolescent girls, need platforms to voice the challenges they face in everyday life and explore the solutions that work for them so they can build better futures for themselves and their communities.
UNICEF India’s 2018-2022 Country Programme has been developed in response to the identification of deprivations that Indian children face, including gender based deprivations. Each programmatic outcome is committed to a gender priority that is noted explicitly in its programme, budget and results. These include:
- Health: Reducing excess female mortality under five and supporting equal care-seeking behaviour for girls and boys. (Example: front-line workers encourage families to take sick baby girls to the hospital immediately)
- Nutrition: Improving nutrition of women and girls, especially by promoting more equitable eating practices (Example: women cooperatives develop and implement their own micro-plans for improved nutrition in their villages)
- Education: Gender responsive support to enable out-of-school girls and boys to learn and enabling more gender-responsive curricula and pedagogy (Example: implementing new strategies for identifying vulnerable out of school girls and boys, overhaul of textbooks so that the language, images and messages do not perpetuate gender stereotypes)
- Child protection: Ending child and early marriage (Example: supporting panchayats to become “child-marriage free”, facilitating girls and boys clubs that teach girls sports, photography, journalism and other non-traditional activities)
- WASH: Improving girls’ access to menstrual hygiene management, including through well-equipped separate toilets in schools (Example: developing gender guidelines from Swacch Bharat Mission, supporting states to implement MHM policy)
- Social policy: Supporting state governments to develop gender-responsive cash transfer programmes and supporting women’s leadership in local governance (Example: cash transfer programme in West Bengal to enable girls to stay in school, a Resource Centre for women panchayat leaders in Jharkhand)
- Disaster risk reduction: Enabling greater gender disaggregation of information management for disaster risk reduction and more leadership and participation of women and girls (Example: greater women’s leadership and participation in Village Disaster Management Committees)
In addition, three cross-cutting themes will support all outcomes:
- Joint C4D-Gender strategy: UNICEF’s Communication for Development (C4D) team develops social and behaviour change communication to support each outcome. These communications prioritize efforts to change negative gender norms like unequal feeding, unequal investment in young girls and boys, harmful MHM practices and perpetuation of lower value of girls than boys through wedding dowry.
- Advocating for and promoting equal value of girls: UNICEF’s Communications, Advocacy and Partnerships team works with media, influencers and gamechangers to advocate for UNICEF priorities, which, in the 2018-2022 programme, includes Equal Value of Girls and Boys.
- Increasing and improving girls’ and women’s safe mobility: UNICEF India has begun work in some states to work on new programmes with new partners to improve the ability and freedom of women and girls, including to access government services like schools and hospitals.
Key partners include the Ministry of Women and Child Development, especially its leadership of the Beti Bachao Beti Padao Programme, which UNICEF India is supporting at the national and state level. UNICEF India works closely with other UN agencies to support gender equality, especially with United Nations Population Fund and UN Women. Civil society organizations, including gender experts and activities are also key partners.
Ending child marriage brief in India
“Early marriage is bad for boys and it’s bad for girls,” explains Atul Thakor.
End child marriage, preserve childhood
Empowering girls with information, skills and support networks.
Ending child marriage in India: Drivers and strategies
India has articulated its commitment to eliminating child marriage through numerous policies, laws and programmes.
Gender equality brief
India is one of the largest and fastest growing economies in the world.
Compendium of human Interest stories
Achieving a Gender-Equal World
Achieving a Gender-Equal World: Our Choice and Responsibility
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The third gender and hijras, hinduism case study - gender | 2018.
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Note on This Case Study
When considering this case study, remember that every major world religion originated and has grown in patriarchal societies—that is, societies where men hold most of the culture’s power, and people of any other gender are largely excluded from power. In this patriarchal context, religions have responded in very different ways, sometimes upholding and supporting misogyny, and sometimes subverting and rejecting it in favor of gender equality. Powerful women, feminists, and members of the LGBTQ community have played major roles in all faith traditions, in diverse ways across different times and cultures.
As always, when thinking about religion and gender, maintain a focus on how religion is internally diverse, always evolving and changing, and embedded in specific cultures.
While recognition of genders outside male and female has only recently been discussed in Western societies, in Hindu society, people of non-binary gender expression have played important roles for over 2000 years.
Called the third gender, evidence for their existence in Hindu society can be found in Hindu holy texts like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, where Hindu hero Arjuna becomes the third gender. Third gender people have often been revered throughout South Asian history; for example, Muslim rulers of the Mughal Empire in the 15th to 19th centuries were generous patrons of third gender Indians. Many rose to significant positions of power under both Hindu and Muslim rulers. In 2014, it was estimated that around 3 million third gender people live in India alone.
While the third gender includes a few different groups in South Asia, the most common are the hijras. Hijras are often born male but look and dress in traditionally feminine ways. Many, but not all, choose to undergo a castration ceremony, removing their male genitalia as an offering to Hindu goddess Bahuchara Mata. Other hijras are born intersex. Often called transgender by outsiders, Indian society and most hijras consider themselves to be third gender—neither male nor female, not transitioning. They are a different gender altogether. However, hijra identity is complex, and recently, some have identified as transgender and sought gender reassignment procedures.
Regardless, most hijras’ defining characteristic is leaving home to become a part of the hijra community, a community which removes itself from wider society and teaches its lessons in secret. A young person is initiated by following a guru, or teacher, who will teach the chela, or disciple, in the hijra ways of life. This includes leaving their home to live in community with other hijras, to learn the ritual roles that they perform in Hindu households. Hijra are expected to perform dances, songs, and blessings at both births and weddings of Hindus. To many Hindus, a hijra’s blessings of a baby will confer fertility, prosperity, and long life on the child. One to two days after a marriage ceremony—hijras will perform to bless the couple for fertility. To many Hindus, it is the third gender nature of hijras—including their sacrifice of their procreative ability to the goddess—that grants hijras this incredible religious power. In fact, hijras also can curse a family if they are disrespectful or refuse to pay for the blessings. Many Hindus, and the hijras themselves, take these blessings and curses very seriously; hijras say they only curse in extreme circumstances. While hijras are often invited to perform these rituals, they will also attend births and marriages unannounced, claiming their right to attend as their sacred religious duty. Fearful of receiving a curse from hijras, Hindu families often welcome them in and pay them for their services, even when uninvited. However, sometimes Hindu families refuse them entry or refuse to pay, even going as far as calling the police. Still, the cultural authority of the hijra is so powerful, that the police will often do nothing to remove them. Hijras are often treated with both respect and fear.
Historically and culturally hijras are based in Hinduism and they perform solely for Hindus. However, hijras are not all Hindu themselves. Many are Muslim and a few are Christian. In fact, some hijras follow the beliefs and practices of both Hinduism and Islam. For example, some hijras center their community around the Hindu goddess Bahuchara Mata while also taking a Muslim name and observing Islamic traditions such as Ramadan. Just as hijra are not limited by binary views of gender, some are not limited by a single religious tradition.
Recently, hijra have regained some of the rights and freedoms which they have been denied. By 2014, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh had all officially recognized third gender people as citizens deserving of equal rights. The Supreme Court of India stated, “it is the right of every human being to choose their gender,” and that recognition of the group, “is not a social or medical issue, but a human rights issue.” They directed the government to open education and job opportunities to all third gender groups. While progress has been slow, in 2015 the first hijra mayor in India was elected in the city of Raigarh, and in 2017 the city of Kochi hired 23 hijra to work for their public transit system. Still progress is slow, and most third gender people remain in poverty, even as they continue to bless Hindu families with prosperity.
- Hijra and transgender rights advocate Laxmi Narayan Tripathi speaks about challenges in the hijra community with the Guardian (2015): http://bit.ly/2fxSKuA
- India’s NDTV short documentary on hijras (2013): http://bit.ly/2vZkkKy
- NPR radio story on third gender in India (2014): http://n.pr/2hUWxF1
- Indian hijras and academics speaking about the third gender with NBC News (2015): http://bit.ly/2vx6FqL
- Short documentary about the third gender in India by Zainab Salbi (2016): http://bit.ly/2k6gAh3
- How do views of hijras among Hindus show how Hinduism has changed over time? What are some of the reasons for that change?
- Many people in the West have never encountered people who follow multiple religious traditions, but it is far more common in other parts of the world. What do you imagine being multi-religious would look like?
- How do Hindu reactions to hijra performances illustrate the internal diversity of Hinduism?
- Watch Zainab Salbi’s documentary in the sources above. What do the lives of Laxmi Narayan Tripathi and Madhu Kinnar say about gender and Hinduism in an Indian context? What is similar about their stories and what is different?
- In what ways do hijras have power in South Asian cultures? In what ways do they lack power? How does this affect their lives?
- How have some Christians impacted some Hindus in their relations with third gender people? Why?
This case study was created by Kristofer Rhude, MDiv ’18, under the editorial direction of Dr. Diane L. Moore, faculty director of Religion and Public Life.
- 1. Serena Nanda, Neither Man nor Woman: The Hijras of India, 2nd ed. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub. Co., 1999), 13, 23, 30-31, 41, 144.
- 2. Geeta Pandey, “India court recognizes transgender people as third gender,” BBC News, Apr. 15, 2014. http://bbc.in/1kWHmGG
- 3. Terence McCoy, “India Now Recognizes Transgender Citizens as ‘Third Gender,’” The Washington Post, Apr. 15, 2014. http://wapo.st/2vt4S7O
- 4. Serena Nanda, Neither Man nor Woman, xx, 15-19, 24-26.
- 5. Max Bearak, “Why terms like ‘transgender’ don’t work for India’s ‘third gender’ communities,’ The Washington Post, Apr. 23, 2016. http://wapo.st/2wFcWAL
- 7. Serena Nanda, Neither Man nor Woman, 2-12,
- 8. Ibid., 41-43; Adnan Hossain, “Beyond Emasculation: Being Muslim and Becoming Hijra…,” Asian Studies Review, 36 no. 4, (2012): 498.
- 9. Dedutt Pattanaik, The Man Who Was a Woman and Other Queer Tales from Hindu Lore, (New York: Harrington Park Press, 2002), 10; Geeta Pandey, “India court recognizes transgender…”; Serena Nanda, Neither Man nor Woman, 50.
- 10. Geeta Pandey, “India court recognises transgender,”; Vidhi Doshi, “Indian train network makes history by employing transgender workers,” The Guardian, May 12, 2017. http://bit.ly/2q9Q4sr ; Eesha Patkar, “India’s transgender mayor—is the country finally overcoming prejudice?” The Guardian, Mar. 3, 2015. http://bit.ly/2vzupuu
- See more Hinduism case studies
- See more gender case studies
Gender Discrimination: Women's Rights in India Today
With gender bias becoming an increasingly hot topic, the number of those fighting gender discrimination against women in india is growing every day. but is it enough to change traditions and customs rooted centuries of prejudice and unfair treatment, about the poverties project.
This article is part of what was originally the ' Poverties project ' which we ran from 2011-2016. It aimed to make social and economic research on poverty accessible to everyone. It focused on presenting evidence-based causes and solutions as much as possible, although with a pinch of sarcasm, cynicism or dark humour at times. Hopefully, it helps make the description of certain (horrible) situations more bearable.
EDIT : We have launched our first-ever children's book on the Sustainable Development Goals . A pretty unique way to educate both kids and parents on the best ways to care for the human and natural worlds!
The scale of gender bias in India
The life of an average woman in India is a perfect case study of the manifestations of a deep seated, socially accepted inferior position of women across traditional communities. This accepted behaviour laces attitudes - socially, culturally and institutionally despite progressive provisions by law which guarantee equal(-ish) rights for women in India.
The scale and impact of the discrimination against women happening on a daily basis across the country is unfathomable. To get a better grasp of it, it’s key to look into the attitudes and customs in rural and urban India which keep women from enjoying their equal rights (as otherwise granted to them on paper).
Or as someone put it on social media:
“I wish men understood that when women are talking about feminism and rape culture and shit, it’s not just a political conversation. It’s not about being a “social justice warrior” or whatever. It’s about our actual lives being shaped by misogyny since childhood, and the daily reality of living in fear of violence. This isn’t a fucking game or philosophical debate. This is our fucking lives.” (Posted by "imreallybad" on Tumblr - deleted since)
Rural life and women's rights in India
In India, villages serve as self-governing units where the Panchayat or council of elected members (usually the reputed elders) take important social decisions for their communities.
They also serve to settle local disputes, work with the district administration to get across the benefits of public services to the villagers and in certain areas which are listed in Schedule V and VI of the Indian Constitution . They, as well as Tribal Councils, are also given authority over the resources of the particular area in order to preserve age old community ideals and their ways of life.
These local self-governing bodies are generally populated by elders and men who seek to hold a tight reign over their family and community life. They are obviously very self-centered and concerned mostly with maintaining the status quo (i.e. their power and benefits).
So they often take decisions which are not inclined towards empowering women but rather on consolidating the gains of the community - usually by focusing on obtaining more funds from the government and amassing the benefits for those who are already in power (and thus empowered).
What does it mean for those trying to uphold women's rights?
- Women lack adequate representation in these forums most of the times as culturally they are not accepted in senior, decision making positions in the community - except for (too rare) in matriarchal communities. This means that the decisions taken are completely divorced from the specific needs and wants of women.
- Women lack in awareness of their own legal and constitutional rights. This makes their enthusiasm to lobby for real changes in the application of the law almost negligible.
On top of that, the authorities themselves (usually the police) are not sensitive to their cause (i.e. they do not care one bit) when women do come seeking justice for gender-related hate crimes such as:
- Dowry harassment
- Superstition-based torture
- And many more horrifying accounts of violence
More often than not, they do not pursue these crimes seriously - certainly not nearly as seriously as if it had happened to a man.
Not to mention that many cases even go unreported due to the painful ordeal that women have to go through to get their voices heard. Women have been known to voluntarily seek relief in silence.
Ending gender discrimination against women in India
Here are some possible solutions for the government to put in place in order to fight gender bias in India and attempt to make the most of Indian customs and traditions:
- Regular awareness campaigns regarding the laws and the public services available to protect and empower women
- Workshops to organise women into self-help groups and women’s organisations with adequate access to credit
- Women entrepreneurship should be duly promoted and encouraged by linking them to markets and credit
- Put in place independent monitoring of the level of women’s participation and feedback in important decisions taken by the local self-governing bodies
Raising awareness about gender bias and women's rights in India
If you're looking for more ideas to fight discrimination against women in India, here are some things everyone can do.
Teaching financial literacy
The government should have awareness programmes on financial literacy for women, including to encourage them to open their own bank accounts.These should be so designed that men in family units consider the account opening of their women a profitable and secure move.
At the same time, women will become more comfortable with using financial instruments to save and hold assets. This would become a key way to reduce poverty in India too.
As well as healthcare and general education
There programmes should also educate women about different aspects of life like health and education periodically. It can be accompanied with training imparted to local village women to monitor progress of the knowledge dissemination and application in terms of making better informed decisions.
A good example of this approach is the widely successful role of the Accredited Social Health Activist , trained by the government after rigorous selection from amongst rural women. These social activists are trained to be the much needed interface between the community and the public health system.
They are trained to spread awareness amongst the village women of health initiatives by the government in tune with their needs and to counsel these ignorant women (in general) to opt for the choice of more institutionalised health care.
Fighting superstition, idiocy and upholding the law
Women will also need the government to organise workshops and awareness campaigns related to thriving, violent superstitious attitudes towards women in those rural pockets where they are rampant. Villagers should be made aware of the punitive consequences of their superstition based treatment of specific women (so-called witch hunting) in their communities.
This concerns in particular lower class women who should be allowed to empower themselves because their social status makes them more vulnerable to social evils:
- Dalit women
- Abandoned women
Local authorities like Panchayats, Gram Sabhas and Tribal Councils need to be made aware of the legal rights of women in India and the punitive measures available for breaking the law - even in the name of community practice. Deterrence should be further reinforced by making women aware of their own rights and the way to opt for justice.
The rural life: traditional customs and attitudes in high definition
Gender bias fuelling female infanticide in India
Women in rural areas suffer the brunt of traditional gender discrimination right from the time that they are born. In rural pockets of states like Haryana, Rajasthan, the birth of a girl is seldom welcomed by the family. Sex selective abortion, female infanticide is still an active trend noted in these regions.
The child sex ratio stands as 914 females to every 1000 males as per the Human Development Survey Report testifying of this rampant evil born of a regressive mind-set. The Ministry of Women’s and Child Development has been mulling over the strategy of registration of births of all girl children in villages and keeping a tab on their sustenance through to a few years to ensure a check is imposed on killing girl children at birth.
Let us try and understand now the variables behind this socially accepted choice and the reasons behind opting for such acts in the first place.
Girls will always be the possession of another family
In India, girls are socially mandated to seek their final settlement phase in their husband’s home. The girl is taken to belong to someone else’s family and not for her own family to keep from the time that she is born. So naturally any investment made on her would ultimately bear returns not to her own parents as the culture propounds but to her husband’s family in future.
She is thus taken as a liability by her own family. Besides this, her marriage requires more spending on the part of the family in the form of dowry and other gifts. Thus she becomes more than a liability now. She becomes a loss making investment.
Just not worth the investment
Families with limited means find it easier to abandon their girl children or worse to kill them in their infantile stage rather than shoulder such a long scheme of investment with no scope of deriving any form of social pension in return like they have in case of boys. Boys are welcomed because they are taken to be the ones who would work and earn for their families and take care of their aging parents in the long run.
Since childhood, girls are discriminated against in terms of nutrition, education, health care and choices for wholesome development as far as family investment is concerned. Denial of inheritance except the jewellery that she is given at the time of her marriage makes her future insecure further and completely at the mercy of her in-laws. In most cases in villages and semi urban areas, the woman has to deposit her jewellery with her in- laws as well and has no say over her womb either.
Fighting for women's rights in India: owning your body
More than often, pressure from the wife's step-family determines when she conceives and how many children she bears. Already having been discriminated against in terms of nutrition earlier in life, she risks her health to give birth to her children and also suffers the risk of giving birth to malnourished children.
Women are a lot more likely to suffer from poor health due to ill attendance to their own needs from childhood (e.g. food, healthcare) and to the untimely pressure of motherhood.
Gender discrimination: it starts in people's minds
In rural regions, women suffer from cultural indoctrination from Indian traditions and customs even more acutely. Having less exposure to education and an absolute lack of scope for cultivating rational and critical thinking, these women find themselves lacking the will or ideological weapons (freedom, human rights) for resistance to a dictated fate. As a result, they end up in limiting roles throughout their lives.
Indoctrination fuels gender discrimination against women
The confines of their limited worldview further restrics their children’s own worldviews. This deprives those kids of a healthy and fulfilling development during the formative years in their mother’s care. More often than not, it has been observed that women are themselves indoctrinated with patriarchal ideas and conform to the same unquestioningly while rearing yet another generation based on such values.
The importance of education and informed decision-making in search of improving and bettering your life is lost to millions of women. Due to the vicious cycle fuelled by ignorance and indoctrination, they unfortunately fail to grasp the need for schooling - as it requires stepping outside the “culturescape”, or reality, that you are used to.
Universal education: it's for everyone, really everyone
Villages in India have seen a steady growth in the number of schools and government facilities like residential schools and mid-day meal scheme in schools, building of more girls’ toilets in schools and schemes like the opening of bank accounts for savings for the girl child. Besides this, there are also scholarships given to meritorious girl children for completing certain standards in school to encourage her to study further.
The question then is, “What are the reasons behind the dismal outcome seen in terms of women’s education and progress in the rural hinterlands?” The answer can be sought in the possible cultural indoctrination which binds traditional communities over generations.
Laws are for women too
In rural India, traditional norms are as much a part of the way of life as the relatively recent rule of law of the modern day political set up is. In fact, for traditional communities in villages additional constitutional power is granted to self-governing units. This way the hold of village patriarchs over the resources, entitlements as well as the execution of local justice becomes even more consolidated.
The village elders who make upmost of these governing units enjoy popular backing of the people as they seek to “preserve” the old ways of life at the cost of being regressive. The local district administration, being appointed rather than elected, can only do so much to fight gender discrimination against women, let alone alter their views regarding women's rights in India.
In this context, the reach of information technology can be one powerful tool to lead to rapid changes in mindsets, generating public debates and conversations, opening up villages to better discuss all the scope for improvement in the lives of half of their population.
Urban woes for urban women
In urban areas, it's always easier to keep an eye on your citizens, but also judges (judicial system) and police (executive system). The cases of female foeticide and female infanticide is lesser in comparison to the numbers in villages due to:
- Better application of the law
- Better awareness of gender issues
- Better awareness of the laws and the consequences of committing a crime
However, in urban areas women being more visible outside their homes, they suffer from more gender related crimes, particularly molestations, acid attacks, harassment, rape and murder.
These crimes are significantly a result of most men being indoctrinated with a sense of superiority over women since childhood and of being conditioned to believe that women should not claim equal positions of privilege, power and independent choice.
- Header image courtesy of Gwenael Piaser
- The Indian Human Development Survey -II
- Factsheet of Women’s Malnutrition in India, Sunny Jose and Navaneetham, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 43, August 2008
- Globalisation and Women in India, Maithreyi Krishnaraj, Development in Practice, Vol. 9, November 1999
- Gender Discrimination & Social Norms in India - Poverty, Resource Equality and Social Policies
- The accumulated effects of inequality - Social Watch
Poverty in china: inequalities, migrant workers & education, poverty in india: causes, effects, injustice & exclusion, poverty in the philippines: lack of vision, yet new solutions.
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“Extensive gender discrimination in healthcare access” for women in India
Younger and older women and those living furthest away from major hospital most likely to miss out on healthcare
Women in India face “extensive gender discrimination” in access to healthcare, suggests a study of outpatient appointments at one major tertiary care hospital in Delhi, and published in the online journal BMJ Open .
Younger (30 and below) and older (60 and above) women and those living furthest away from the hospital were most likely to miss out.
The findings prompt the researchers to call for “systemic societal and governmental action to correct this gender discrimination.”
Previous research on gender discrimination in developing countries has largely focused on the higher death rates among women compared to men. And unreliable data have primarily hindered systematic study of gender discrimination.
In a bid to rectify this, the researchers drew on 2,377,028 outpatient clinic appointments for all departments except obstetrics and gynaecology at a large public tertiary care hospital in Delhi in 2016.
They wanted to see if there were any gender differences in access and whether a patient’s age and distance from the hospital might have any bearing on this.
Outpatients were split into five age groups: 0-16 years; 19-30; 31-44; 45-59; and 60 and above. More than 90% of them travelled from Delhi and three adjoining states: Haryana; Uttar Pradesh; and Bihar.
A total of 882,324 people visited the outpatient departments of the hospital an average of 2.69 times in 2016, adding up to a total of 2,377,028 visits.
The researchers calculated the number of ‘missing’ patients by looking at the difference between the actual number of women who visited the hospital and those that should have come, had men and women visited in the same proportions as the sex ratio of the overall population would suggest, based on the 2011 census.
Almost two thirds (63%) of these visits were made by male patients, with a total of 1,494,444 visits compared to 882,584 (37%) visits by female patients, equivalent to a sex ratio of 1.69. This is significantly greater than the overall sex ratio of the population of 1.09, say the researchers.
After adjusting for different hospital departments, they estimated that nearly twice as many hospital visits were made by men and boys as were made by women and girls in the younger age groups, with sex ratios of 1.93 and 2.01 for 0-18 year olds and 19-30 year olds, respectively.
The ratio fell to 1.43 and 1.4 for those aged 31-44 and 45-59, respectively, but rose again to 1.75 for those aged 60 and above.
This U-shaped curve was the same for patients from all four locations.
After taking account of age and hospital department, the overall sex ratio increased with distance from the hospital: 1.41 for Delhi; 1.70 for Haryana, the neighbouring state, 1.98 for Uttar Pradesh, a state further away; and 2.37 for Bihar, the state furthest away from Delhi.
Comparing the total number of actual visits to those that should have taken place based on the population sex ratio, 402,722 female outpatient visits were ‘missing’ from these four locations--nearly half (49%) the actual number, calculate the researchers.
This is an observational study, and as such, can’t establish cause. The study also relied on data from one hospital and so may not have covered all referrals from each state, including women from more distant states who might have preferred to use healthcare facilities closer to home.
Nevertheless, the findings suggest “extensive” discrimination in access to healthcare, with younger and older women and those living further away from the hospital, especially likely to miss out.
“This calls for systematic societal and governmental action,” say the researchers, who go on to say that their study “has important implications for gender-related health policy which has so far focused on maternal health.”
They conclude: “The findings suggest local healthcare infrastructure should be strengthened, with the biggest beneficiaries being younger and older women who are most neglected and discriminated against.” [Ends] 07/08/2019 Notes for editors Research : Missing female patients: an observational analysis of sex ratio among outpatients in a referral tertiary care public hospital in India doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026850 Journal: BMJ Open
Academy of Medical Sciences labelling system https://press.psprings.co.uk/ AMSlabels.pdf Peer reviewed? Yes Evidence type: Observational Subjects: People
Link to research: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/ lookup/doi/10.1136/bmjopen- 2018-026850
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Gender issues in India: an amalgamation of research
Content from the Brookings Institution India Center is now archived. After seven years of an impactful partnership, as of September 11, 2020, Brookings India is now the Centre for Social and Economic Progress , an independent public policy institution based in India.
The views are of the author(s).
Forty-two years have passed since the United Nations first decided to commemorate March 8 th as International Women’s Day, marking a historical transition in the feminist movement. Gender remains a critically important and largely ignored lens to view development issues across the world. On this past occasion of International Women’s Day 2017, here is an amalgamation of gendered learning outcomes across various crucial themes for public policy in India, emerging from Brookings India’s past research on political economy, financial inclusion and health.
Nonresident senior fellow - governance studies, nirupama jayaraman.
In 2016, India ranked 130 out of 146 in the Gender Inequality Index released by the UNDP. It is evident that a stronger turn in political discourse is required, taking into consideration both public and private spaces. The normalization of intra-household violence is a huge detriment to the welfare of women. Crimes against women have doubled in the period between 1991 and 2011. NFHS data reports that 37 per cent of married women in India have experienced physical or sexual violence by a spouse while 40 per cent have experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence by a spouse. While current policy discourse recommends employment as a form of empowerment for women, data presents a disturbing correlation between female participation in labour force and their exposure to domestic violence. The NFHS-3 reports that women employed at any time in the past 12 months have a much higher prevalence of violence (39-40 per cent) than women who were not employed (29 per cent). The researchers advocate a multi-faceted approach to women’s empowerment beyond mere labour force participation, taking into consideration extra-household bargaining power.
Read more at: “ Beginning a new conversation on Women ”.
Gender inequality extends across various facets of society. Political participation is often perceived as a key factor to rectify this situation. However, gender bias extends to electoral politics and representative governance as well. The relative difference between male and female voters is the key to understanding gender inequality in politics. While the female voter turnout has been steadily increasing, the number of female candidates fielded by parties has not increased. More women contest as independents, which does not provide the cover for extraneous costs otherwise available when they are part of a political party.
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However, women also act as agents of political change for other women. In the Bihar elections in 2005, when re-elections were held, the percentage of female voters had increased from 42.5 to 44.5 per cent while those of male voters declined from 50 to 47 per cent in the interim period of eight months. As a direct result, 37 per cent of the constituencies saw anti-incumbency voting. The average growth rate of women voters was nearly three times in those constituencies where there was a difference in the winning party. District-wise disaggregation of voter registration also supports this hypothesis in the case of Bihar indicating the percolation of the winds of change. This illustration proves that women are no longer under the complete control of the men in their family in terms of electoral participation. The situation is only bound to improve from here. With the introduction of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), vulnerable sections like women now have more freedom of choice in their vote. Further, poll related incidents of violence against women have significantly decreased since the phased introduction of EVMs across multi-level elections in India.
Read more at:
- Interview on Gender Inequality in Politics
- Women voters can tip the scales in Bihar
- Using technology to Strengthen Democracy
India’s Missing Women
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Indian democracy: including the excluded and excluding the included.
Extending the conversation to political representation is the next phase in the conversation. Women make up merely 22 per cent of lower houses in parliaments around the world and in India, this number is less than half at 10.8 per cent in the outgoing Lok Sabha. A steady increase in female voter participation has been observed across India, wherein the sex ratio of voters (number of female voters vis-à-vis male) has increased from 715 in the 1960s to 883 in the 2000s. Our studies have shown that women are more likely to contest elections in states with a skewed gender ratio. In the case of more developed states, they seek representation through voting leading to an increase in voter participation.
The situation can be rectified by providing focused reservation for those constituencies with a skewed sex ratio. Reducing the entry costs (largely non-pecuniary in nature – cultural barriers, lack of exposure) for women in order to create a pipeline of female leaders is another solution. These missing women, either as voters or leaders point to the gross negligence of women at all ages.
Read more at: Missing Women in Indian Democracy
In the developing world, women have traditionally been the focus of efforts of financial inclusion. They have proved to be better borrowers (40 per cent of Grameen Bank’s clients were women in 1983. By 2000, the number had risen to 90 per cent) – largely attributed to the fact that they are less mobile as compared to men and more susceptible to peer pressure. However, institutions in microfinance are exposed to the trade-off between market growth and social development since having more female clients lead to the inevitable drip-down of social incentives. As an attempt to overcome this hurdle, a larger role can be played by donors with a gender driven agenda, for the financial inclusion sector will drive the idea further.
Gendered contextualisation of products is highly necessary for microfinance institutions (MFIs) – men and women do not ascribe to choices in a similar fashion. Trends emerging from prior research indicates that when health insurance coverage was held under the MFI sector, by both men and women, women benefited from the coverage only so far as they were the holders and not using spousal status (if their husbands were insured). Thus healthcare seeking behaviour becomes an important factor to be considered in insurance coverage under the MFIs.
The JAM trinity – Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhar, Mobile – can be used to improve financial inclusion from a gender perspective as well. The metrics to consider would be the number of Jan Dhan accounts held by women, percentage of women holding Aadhar cards and access to mobile connectivity for women.
Read more at: A trade-off between Growth and Social Objectives Exists for Microfinance Institutions
In terms of healthcare focusing on women, the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) and National Health Mission are vital to the policy landscape. The JSY has improved maternal healthcare in India through the emphasis on institutional deliveries. Increase of 22 per cent in deliveries in government hospitals, was mirrored by an 8 per cent decline in childbirth at private hospitals and a 16 per cent decline in childbirth at home. The National Health Mission’s ASHA led to greater awareness and education of pregnant women as well as an increase in institutional maternal and neonatal healthcare. Improved infrastructure for maternal and neo-natal has been observed in community hospitals, in addition to the introduction of ambulance services.
A gendered increase in seek care is observed with a large 13 per cent increase in the number of women who report being sick in the last 15 days, driving the overall reportage. Further, an eight per cent decline in rural women seeking private healthcare, has been reported, while a 58 per cent increase in women seeking hospitalization has been reported. Further disaggregated, the data shows a 75.7 per cent increase for rural women seeking healthcare. The overall increase in usage of public hospitals is almost entirely driven by rural women who saw an increase of 24.6 per cent in utilisation of public hospitals over the 10 years (2004-2014). Our results show that the JSY had a significant, positive impact on overall hospitalisation of women in India. It increased the probability of a woman being hospitalised by approximately 1.3 per cent.
Read more at: Health and Morbidity in India
The healthcare sector in India has largely focused on maternal healthcare for women. The importance of research on mental health has been ignored in policy discourse. The significant relationship that mental health bears on violence has also been explored in further research. Every fifth suicide in India is that of a housewife (18 per cent overall) – the reportage of suicide deaths has been most consistent among housewives as a category, than other categories. India is the country with the largest rate of female deaths due to ‘intentional violence’.
Our work on childhood violence shows that girls are twice more likely to face sexual violence than boys before the age of 18. Larger the population of educated females in the country, lesser is the incidence of childhood violence at home – including lesser violent discipline, physical punishment as well as psychological aggression. Additionally, the lifetime experience of sexual violence by girls is strongly correlated with the adolescent fertility rate in a country. Further, a strong relationship is observed between female experience of sexual violence and female labour force participation within a country. The results show that the higher the labour force participation by women in a country, the higher is the incidence of sexual violence against them. This could be indicative of adverse working conditions within labour markets, and the difficulty of access to labour markets by young women in a country.
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India’s Supreme Court hears marriage equality case, sends to five-judge bench
The three-judge panel, led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud along with Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala, recommended the same-sex marriage case to be reviewed by a five-judge Constitutional Bench in accordance with Article 145(3) of India’s Constitution after a hearing March 13.
In January, the justices brought four couples seeking marriage equality cases along with all lower court same-sex marriage cases under its jurisdiction and demanded a response from India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi ’s government and ruling party the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The plaintiffs believe they are being discriminated against by not receiving the same rights and benefits as straight married couples, such as managing each other’s health directives, buying property, inheritance, using an Indian surrogate to start a family, and other rights.
India’s former attorney general, Mukul Rohatgi, and openly gay lawyer Saurabh Kirpal are representing the plaintiffs. Saurabh Kirpal is the son of India’s 31st chief justice Bhupinder Nath Kirpal. India’s government rejected Saurabh Kirpal’s appointment as judge to the Delhi High Court in November 2022, citing his LGBTQ activism. The Supreme Court Collegium, which approved Saurabh Kirpal’s appointment in 2021, is urging India’s government to reconsider its decision.
Abhay Dang , 35, who has been with his partner, Supriyo Chakraborty , 32, for about 10 years and had a “big fat Indian wedding” in 2021, told the South China Morning Post that they feel unrecognized in the eyes of the law.
Businessperson Uday Raj Anand wants to marry his partner of 17 years, Parth Phiroze Merhotra, chief editor of India’s Juggernaut Books. They want to be legally recognized not only for themselves but their two children.
“We have a loving family with two wonderful children, and there is an indignity in not being recognized as a family in the eyes of the law,” Anand told SCMP.
Government officials responded the night before the case’s hearing, March 12, with a 56-page affidavit arguing against same-sex marriage. The government based its argument on tradition and cultural values. Most of India’s government officials believe that marriage is a right between a man and a woman that should not be changed.
LGBTQ rights have gained acceptance and momentum in the past 14 years due to the India’s Supreme Court . It started with the Delhi High Court striking down India’s colonial-era penal code, Section 377, which criminalized sodomy, which was used against mostly gay and bisexual men. The Supreme Court reinstated 377 in 2013 but struck it down in 2018. The court also expanded constitutional rights for LGBTQ people in that ruling . In 2014, the court granted transgender people non-discrimination protections and recognized a “third gender.” The court strengthened India’s privacy laws that also recognized sexual orientation as an essential attribute of an individual’s privacy and dignity in 2017. In 2022, the court expanded protections for “atypical” families recognizing single parents, blended families or kinship relationships, and same-sex couples.
Some felt that same-sex marriage was an impossible reach, especially after the Supreme Court rejected a marriage equality challenge in 2020, reported Bloomberg , but three years later, the impossible is appearing to be possible.
Ankit Bhuptani, LGBTQ rights activist and co-organizer at Queer Azaadi Mumbai Pride March , said in an email interview with Gay City News that “it is high time that India recognizes and acknowledges the queer culture and heritage of India and ensures that the LGBTQ+ community is given the legal rights and protection they deserve.”
“It is essential for the government to recognize and acknowledge this aspect of Indian culture, especially as they continue to push for progress and development in the country,” the 30-year-old gay man told Gay City News in an email interview. However, he believes that LGBTQ Indian activists shouldn’t be going after same-sex marriage due to India’s five complex marriage laws governing Hindus, Christians, Parsis, and Muslims (which is largely not codified), and the secular code, the Special Marriage Act.
Chandrachud was sworn in as the court’s 50th chief justice November 9, 2022, and also was one of the justices that repealed 377 has made several positive statements supporting the LGBTQ community.
He said such as a case involving an “interplay” between constitutional rights of life, liberty, dignity, equal treatment of members of the LGBTQ+ community members, and specific statutory enactments which considers only a married union between a biological man and woman, reported The Hindu .
“It is about an aspiration to realize constitutional rights and equal existence of LGBT community as other citizens,” he said, according to the Washington Blade .
In November 2022, t wo couples sued India’s government for same-sex marriage claiming discrimination at the Supreme Court. On January 6, the court consolidated cases from the high courts in Delhi and Kerala along with nine other same-sex marriage cases in the lower courts to its jurisdiction. The court notified India’s central government and scheduled the case’s first hearing for March 13.
The case also received support from an unlikely source, Mohan Bhagwat, head of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist group that is the ideological parent of Modi’s party. Bhagwat recently recognized LGBTQ people as “a part of the Indian society,” agreeing with activists and historians that India has traditionally acknowledged the community.
Bhagwat’s statements were a departure from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and could shift the government’s position.
According to the Ipsos 2021 LGBTQ+ Pride survey , nearly 60% of India’s urban population is comfortable with LGBTQ people being open about their sexual orientation or gender identity. More than 44% said they supported same-sex marriage more than public displays of affection (39%). The same isn’t true for more conservative rural parts of India, where being LGBTQ is still considered taboo and are subject to discrimination, harassment, violence, and so-called conversion therapy by family and community members and sometimes police.
Jayna Kothari, a gender-law expert who co-founded India’s Centre for Law & Policy Research, told Reuters in December 2022 that a decision on same-sex marriage is “inevitable” and would be decided swiftly in a “landmark moment.”
“The issue of marriage equality is likely to be decided at a hastened pace,” now that it was at India’s highest court, Kothari said. “A decision on same-sex marriage in the near future is inevitable. That will be a landmark moment.”
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Major Causes of Gender Discrimination in the Indian Society
What are the major causes of gender inequality.
Gender Discrimination in the Indian Society
Gender disparity still exists in India. Being born as women in Indian society, one has to face gender discrimination at all levels. At the household level, females are confined to their household chores, raising children and looking after families, irrespective of their education degrees or job profile. At her workplace: women have limited access to job opportunities and are paid less for the same work.
What is Gender Discrimination?
Gender discrimination is the unequal or disadvantageous treatment inflicted on someone because they belong to a specific gender. It is usually the women who usually have to face such gender discrimination.
Education and learning opportunities: gender-wise literacy rates in India showcase the wide gap between men and women. As per 2011 census data, effective literacy rates (age 7 and above) were 82.14% for men and 65.46% for women. Parents are unwilling to spend on girls’ education because educating women is of no value as they will only serve their husbands and the in-laws in the future.
The Indian constitution provides equal rights and privileges for both men and women, but most women across India don’t enjoy these rights and opportunities guaranteed to them. This is because of a number of reasons.
Causes of Gender Inequality in India –
Poverty is one of the causes of gender inequality in India. It is the root cause of gender discrimination in the patriarchal Indian society, as the economic dependence on the male counterpart is itself a cause of gender disparity. A total of 30% of people live below the poverty line, and out of this 70% are women.
Gender discrimination In India had led to educational backwardness for girls. It’s a sad reality that despite educational reforms in the country, girls in India are still denied a chance at learning. The mindset needs to be changed, and people need to understand the benefits of educating girls. An educated, well-read woman ensures that other members, especially the children of the house, get a quality education.
Patriarchal setup in our Indian society –
Men dominate societal and family life in India. This has been the case in the past ages and continues to be practised in the majority of households. Though this mindset is changing with urbanization and education, there is still a long way to permanently change the scenario.
Social Customs, Beliefs and Practices –
To date, a lot of families have a preference for a male child and disfavour towards the daughter. Sons, especially in the business communities, are considered economic, political, and ritual assets where daughters are considered liabilities.
Lack of Awareness Among Women –
Most of the women are unaware of their fundamental rights and capabilities. They lack a basic understanding of how the socio-economic and political forces affect them. They accept all discriminatory practices that persist in families from generation in the name of tradition and societal norms primarily due to their ignorance and unawareness.
Gender-based discrimination across India can only be checked when girls are not denied their chance to learn and grow in life. Girls like boys should get a great start in life in terms of educational opportunities . This will help them attain economic independence and help them be rightly equipped to contribute towards their upliftment and that of the society they are part of.
NGOs like Save the Children are doing what it takes to uplift the status of the girl child in society through several programmes across India. If you care to bring hope in the lives of thousands of girls in India by ensuring the right environment and opportunities for them, then support an NGO like Save the Children.
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- 1. + Case Study: Gender Discrimination Slides edited by Valerio Di Fonzo for www.globalpolis.org Based on the work of Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel of OpenIntro The slides may be copied, edited, and/or shared via the CC BY-SA license Some images may be included under fair use guidelines (educational purposes)
- 2. Gender Discrimination ● In 1972, as a part of a study on gender discrimination, 48 male bank supervisors were each given the same personnel file and asked to judge whether the person should be promoted to a branch manager job that was described as “routine”. ● The files were identical except that half of the supervisors had files showing the person was male while the other half had files showing the person was female. ● It was randomly determined which supervisors got “male” applications and which got “female” applications. ● Of the 48 files reviewed, 35 were promoted. ● The study is testing whether females are unfairly discriminated against. Is this an observational study or an experiment? Experiment B.Rosen and T. Jerdee (1974), ``Influence of sex role stereotypes on personnel decisions", J.Applied Psychology, 59:9-14.
- 3. Data At a first glance, does there appear to be a relatonship between promotion and gender? % of males promoted: 21 / 24 = 0.875 % of females promoted: 14 / 24 = 0.583
- 4. Two Competing Claims “There is nothing going on.” (Null Hypothesis) Promotion and gender are independent. No gender discrimination. Observed difference in proportions is simply due to chance. “There is something going on.” (Alternative Hypothesis) Promotion and gender are dependent. There is gender discrimination. Observed difference in proportions is not due to chance.
- 5. A Trial as a Hypothesis Test Hypothesis testing is very much like a court trial. ● H0 : Defendant is innocent HA : Defendant is guilty ● We then present the evidence - collect data. ● Then we judge the evidence - “Could these data plausibly have happened by chance if the null hypothesis were true?" ○ If they were very unlikely to have occurred, then the evidence raises more than a reasonable doubt in our minds about the null hypothesis. ● Ultimately we must make a decision. How unlikely is unlikely? Image from http://www.nwherald.com/_internal/cimg!0/oo1il4sf8zzaqbboq25oevvbg99wpot
- 6. A Trial as a Hypothesis Test (cont.) ● If the evidence is not strong enough to reject the assumption of innocence, the jury returns with a verdict of “not guilty". ○ The jury does not say that the defendant is innocent, just that there is not enough evidence to convict. ○ The defendant may, in fact, be innocent, but the jury has no way of being sure. ● Said statistically, we fail to reject the null hypothesis. ○ We never declare the null hypothesis to be true, because we simply do not know whether it's true or not. ○ Therefore we never ``accept the null hypothesis".
- 7. A Trial as a Hypothesis Test (cont.) ● In a trial, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. ● In a hypothesis test, the burden of proof is on the unusual claim. ● The null hypothesis is the ordinary state of affairs (the status quo), so it's the alternative hypothesis that we consider unusual and for which we must gather evidence.
- 8. Recap: Hypothesis Testing Framework ● We start with a null hypothesis (H0) that represents the status quo. ● We also have an alternative hypothesis (HA) that represents our research question, i.e. what we're testing for. ● We conduct a hypothesis test under the assumption that the null hypothesis is true, either via simulation (today) or theoretical methods (later in the course). ● If the test results suggest that the data do not provide convincing evidence for the alternative hypothesis, we stick with the null hypothesis. If they do, then we reject the null hypothesis in favor of the alternative.
- 9. Simulating the experiment... ... under the assumption of independence, i.e. leave things up to chance. If results from the simulations based on the chance model look like the data, then we can determine that the difference between the proportions of promoted files between males and females was simply due to chance (promotion and gender are independent). If the results from the simulations based on the chance model do not look like the data, then we can determine that the difference between the proportions of promoted files between males and females was not due to chance, but due to an actual effect of gender (promotion and gender are dependent).
- 10. Application Activity: Simulating the Experiment Use a deck of playing cards to simulate this experiment. 1. Let a face card represent not promoted and a non-face card represent a promoted. Consider aces as face cards. ○ Set aside the jokers. ○ Take out 3 aces >> there are exactly 13 face cards left in the deck (face cards: A, K, Q, J). ○ Take out a number card >> there are exactly 35 number (non-face) cards left in the deck (number cards: 2-10). 2. Shuffle the cards and deal them intro two groups of size 24, representing males and females. 3. Count and record how many files in each group are promoted (number cards).
- 12. Step 2-4
- 13. Simulations Using Software These simulations are tedious and slow to run using the method described earlier. In reality, we use software to generate the simulations. The dot plot below shows the distribution of simulated differences in promotion rates based on 100 simulations.
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Women in India face "extensive gender discrimination" in access to healthcare, suggests a study of outpatient appointments at one major tertiary care hospital in Delhi, and published in the online journal BMJ Open. Younger (30 and below) and older (60 and above) women and those living furthest away from the hospital were most likely to miss ...
Crimes against women have doubled in the period between 1991 and 2011. NFHS data reports that 37 per cent of married women in India have experienced physical or sexual violence by a spouse while...
India's Supreme Court forwarded a case for same-sex marriage for a Constitutional review on March 13. The three-judge panel, led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud along with Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala, recommended the same-sex marriage case to be reviewed by a five-judge Constitutional Bench in accordance with Article 145(3) of India's Constitution after a hearing ...
Poverty -. Poverty is one of the causes of gender inequality in India. It is the root cause of gender discrimination in the patriarchal Indian society, as the economic dependence on the male counterpart is itself a cause of gender disparity. A total of 30% of people live below the poverty line, and out of this 70% are women.
1. + Case Study: Gender Discrimination Slides edited by Valerio Di Fonzo for www.globalpolis.org Based on the work of Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel of OpenIntro The slides may be copied, edited, and/or shared via the CC BY-SA license Some images may be included under fair use guidelines (educational purposes) 2. Gender Discrimination In 1972, as a ...
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Using unique panel data from Young Lives study conducted in undivided Andhra Pradesh, India, this mixed-method paper analyses gender differentials in completion of secondary education. Results show biased secondary school completion rates in favor of boys. Probit regression results highlight certain variables such as mothers' education, wealth, high self-efficacy, early reading skills, lower ...