UNHRC Session 23 2013: India Women's Challenges for Security, Rights, Empowerment & Equality Print E-mail


Session 23

Panel: India Women's Challenges for Security, Rights, Empowerment & Equality

June 3, 20l3, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm, Palais des Nations - Room IX, Geneva, Switzerland

Distinguished Speakers:

·    Dr. Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury of India -Chairperson of Special Task force on Rape, Trafficking & Violence Against Women - Chairperson Special Study Expert Commission on Rape, Trafficking & Violence  
·    Ms. Rashida Manjoo - UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women - Invited
·    Dr. Avni Amin, PhD - WHO, World Health Organization, Technical Officer, Department of Gender & Women’s Health
·    Dr. V. Rukmini Rao & Dr. Lynette Dumble - Gramya Resource Center, Hyderabad - Social & Political Economies of Femicide in Andhra Pradesh - Statement [Scroll down to read]
·    Ms. Lois A. Herman - Coordinator WUNRN, Women's UN Report Network - Power Point

Moderator: Ms. Carolyn Handschin, Women's Federation for World Peace International - WFWPI

Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India


PROGRAM: Joining Hands to Save India’s Girl Child


By  Dr. V. Rukmini Rao. Director of the Gramya Resource Centre for Women  ( ) and Dr. Lynette J. Dumble, Founder and Director of the Global Sisterhood Network ( ],

Throughout human history a masculinised population has translated into criminal and violent conflict. Neither India nor China is proving exceptional to the past with the declining female component of the sex ratio correlating significantly with increased crime in India, and crime rates doubling during China’s modern period of male-dominated demographics.

Son preference is a major factor in today’s world of “disappearing girls”, but patrilinear mindsets are not the singular cause of the demographics which define the degree to which the girl child is presently imperilled. Rather, only by acting in tandem with imposed population control programs, and in India with a medical economy which flouts national regulations via increasingly cheap technologies which in turn facilitate the termination of female foetuses, has the hostility towards daughters succeeded to severely distort the age-old balance between male and female births. As a consequence, women in modern India contend with violence that is directly related to the country’s unnatural excess of males.

Sex selective abortions are a grievous crime which denies the girl child her right to be born, and are also a crime against women. Largely due to patriarchal traditions, Indian families from all castes and communities, and presently particularly from the middle class, predominantly favour the birth of a male child. As a result, vast numbers of the country’s women undergo sex selective termination of female pregnancies, though particularly in rural areas not always in hygienic conditions nor in the hands of qualified abortion practitioners. Women who by accident or design give birth to daughters where a son is overwhelmingly desired, face domestic violence, eviction, deprivation of food, divorce or their husband’s bigamy, the sale or abandonment of the daughter, and/or a life of habitual pregnancy until they bear a son.

Contrary to predictions that females would become more valued in their scarcity, girls and women in India’s states where the sex ratio is most highly skewed in favour of males are faced with an ever increasing likelihood of rape, gang rape, abduction, bride-sharing, trafficking, forced marriage, and various other forms of violence and discrimination.

According to 2011 statistics from India's National Crime Records Bureau, rape is the country's most rapidly growing crime, increasing by a staggering 792 per cent since 1971, and dwarfing the rise in other serious crimes such as murder (106 per cent), armed robbery (27 per cent) and kidnapping (298 per cent). In the same 40-year period.

India’s Criminal Law Amendment Act of 2013 attached the death penalty and increased mandatory minimum sentences for men convicted of rape. While the impact of the amended law on rape conviction rates remains unanswered, the rape and gang rape of females of all ages continued unabated in the first quarter of 2013. On this background, India’s Criminal Law Amendment Act of 2013 is destined to join country’s other poorly implemented and/or slackly policed laws; for example the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act of 1994 which was amended and implemented as the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act in 2001  with the intention of prohibiting the identification of foetal gender, and the subsequent termination of those that are female; and The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 which to this day is poorly implemented and lacking an appropriate federal budget.

As verified by India’s census data of 2011, the PCPNDT Act of 2001 has failed completely to protect the girl child and women. The time is past-nigh to stringently implement this Act, together with the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, so that anti-girl child attitudes are eradicated from all communities across the nation. Political leadership is integral to ending the misogyny which fuels the medical economy which popularises ultrasound scanning for the purpose of sex selective abortions, and the consequently masculinized sex ratio which is directly related to the violence which is inflicted on India’s female population from womb to tomb.

1. Hvistendahl, Mara. Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men.  BBS Public Affairs, New York, 2011, pages 1-214.
2. Rao, V, Rukmini and Dumble, Lynette J. 2012, pages 1-82. The Social and Political Economies of Femicide in Andhra Pradesh. Gramya Resource Centre for Women
2. Rao, V, Rukmini and Dumble, Lynette J. Why the world is more dangerous with fewer girls: In India and China, where the ratio of men to women is skewed in favour of men, there are higher levels of rape and violent conflict. The Melbourne Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times, and The WA Times, January 17, 2013