“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex.”
― Karl Marx
Women are oppressed everywhere, but in India, there are generations of women that are missing. Or shall I say, that have been wiped out. In a country with one of the fastest growing economies in the world, female foetal abortions and infanticide are still widely prevalent. The male child is preferred as a son is viewed as the provider for the family and a daughter, as a liability that has to be married off with a dowry. This view is not just the mentality of the uneducated or lower class but supported in the middle and upper classes of India, albeit more discreetly. Despite the government ban on sex determination, sex selective abortions still take place resulting in a large gender imbalance.
The onus of this genocide lies with both the government and the citizens. This has to stop now. A global campaign to stop this genocide, The 50 Million Missing, is pushing for the Indian government to enforce existant laws on female foeticide. Founded by writer and gender activist, Rita Banerji, this campaign is an international effort to demand justice for the millions of missing Indian women.
Please support this campaign by clicking on this link and signing the online petition: Call for Government Action to Stop Female Genocide In India Petition | GoPetition.
Yesterday, I had an opportunity to sit with a 94 year old engineer who had, against all odds, saved his family from the massacre during the partition of India in 1947, resulting in the present day India and Pakistan. He was able to save himself and his family from being counted in the 500,000 or so people that perished during this time.
The partition of India caused a mass migration of people from one country to the other; the largest movement of people in recorded history.
Bauji (means father or grandfather), as I will call him now, was a young 29 year old with a wife, 4 year old son and a newborn daughter. He lived in the province of Jhang, which now falls in Pakistan. His young family and he were forced to flee from their home to India with nothing but the clothes on their back and some jewelry that they hid under their clothes. His newborn daughter was 4 days old when they started their journey, during which they cheated death twice, got separated and then reunited. He vividly remembers seeing bodies of people lying in trucks and the panic, fear and mistrust among people.
His story made me realize that there must have been thousands of such heart-wrenching stories. Of the millions of people that migrated from one country to the other, many must have lost loved ones, left behind family members who didn’t want to leave their homes and others became homeless. Their stories have gotten lost in trying to make a life for themselves in their new homes.
Bauji and Mataji (grandmother) went on to raise a family of well-educated and successful children. They now live here in Canada and are respected members of the South Asian community. I feel blessed that they shared their story with me.