Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Avoir une fille est l’un des plus gros malheurs qui puisse arriver à certaines familles indiennes

Pour certains ménages des régions rurales de l’Inde, le malheur peut frapper de plusieurs façons : il peut prendre la forme de désastres naturels, de difficultés financières, ou tout simplement il peut provenir de la naissance d’un enfant de sexe féminin. Dans ce cas, c’est le pire parce que c’est un malheur qui persiste la vie durant. Est-ce pourquoi les filles sont tuées au stade fœtal, tandis que les garçons porteurs de tous les espoirs sont privilégiés et chéris ? Et la fille qui est née envers et contre tout, pourquoi est-elle mal nourrie et maltraitée ?

Je me rappelle les vieux jours où je répétais naïvement que tout homme et né libre et égal en droit. Je ne sais qui a inventé ces palabres. Peut-être que celui/celle qui l’a fait, avait en tête des désirs altruistes et humanistes et projetait sur le monde des idées normatives. Mais si l’on y pense un peu, personne n’est né libre et égal en droit à tout le monde. On naît avec des barrières qu’on passe sa vie à essayer de briser. Mieux vaut être imbu de ses vérités au départ et s’armer en conséquence, au lieu de les ignorer et en être victime. Je retranscris un article de Times of India tel quel. Etre femme en Inde (issue des couches défavorisées) n’est pas du tout plaisant.

In Chambal, girl child is unspoken curse: Three Districts in Northern MP Show Sex Ratios below 850 Girls per 1000 Boys. Times of India, Saturday, February 10, 2007—P17

One-year old Devki lies unattended on a string cot at her home in Sasaikhurd village in Shivppuri district of Madya Pradesh, while her twin brother Rahul gurgles in her grandmother’s arms. He weighs 7.5 Kg, and she 4.7 Kg—the normal weight of a child half her age.

“We feed her but she just doesn’t eat”, says Gangabati, mother of the twins and a labourer. “My son was born far healthier. The girl has always been like this”.

But the village Anganwadi worker, Naresh Sharma, has a different take. “Because the girl was born weak, we advised the family to take greater care of Devki,” he tells TOI. But what happened was just the opposite. The family consisting of farming grandparents and labourer-parents took better care of the boy.

When the district collector visited the village in November last year, he found the girl was severely undernourished and weighed less than 3.5 Kg. Her brother was a healthy 6.5 Kg. It was only after the collector threatened her family with legal action that the parents started feeding her properly.

Devki’s case is symptomatic of the malaise sweeping through northern Madya Pradesh, where three district show child sex ratios below 850 girls per 1000 boys. The situation has worsened since 2003, when ultra-sonography and sex-determination technology became accessible to the remotest parts of Chambal, one of the most backward areas in the country. Sasaikhurd today has 91 boys and 63 girls aged between 1-5 years. Neighboring village Gandhinagar has 75 boys and 50 girls aged 5 years or less.

With foeticide being added to the old practice of infanticide in the region, health workers find it hard to persuade parents to treat their daughter better….

“The levels of malnutrition in India, at about 45%, are very disturbing. India ranks far below Ethiopia (35%) and Sub-Saharan Africa (32%) in malnutrition indices”, says Unicef India’s chief of child development and nutrition.

An elderly villager of Sasaikhurd sums up the general attitude. “Daughters are ‘paraya-dhan’. She will take away a fat booty when she gets married. But the son will bring money, he helps in the field. Who gives you fire when you die? The son does,” he explains.

These biases, coupled with the technology to kill female fetuses, has resulte in Shivpuri town’s child sex ratio dropping alarmingly to 846 girls per 1000 boys from 904 in 2001—a trend reported by TOI on February 6.

1 comment:

Pradeep said...

This is a very major problem. Most strikingly not just in villages, but in cities too. Punjab apparently is quite high on the list, shocking because it is quite an economicall well-off state.

A social problem definitely, which, like many other such one can't just be wishes away, but gradually rooted out through sustained education and social awareness, is it not?