Saturday, February 10, 2007

"50 Million Missing"

...and counting
Anywhere, India

Infanticide, feticide - all names for gender- based murder, or a form of genocide. India's "gender ratio" is falling, particularly in more prosperous areas where parents can afford a gender determination test of the fetus. Since girl babies are unpopular (primarily because of the South Asian tradition of dowry, or the huge costs incurred in "marrying off" a daughter), countless families choose to abort female fetuses. Those who can't afford the prenatal test often murder or abandon girl children after birth.

Laws have been passed against both dowry and feticide (to prosecute the doctors and parents), consciousness-raising campaigns have been organized - all have been of very little use facing these deeply entrenched customs. This problem is not restricted to a particular religious or ethnic group, but has cut across socioeconomic and caste lines.

Just a couple months ago, a village well in Punjab, one of India's more propsperous states, was found stuffed with remains of hundreds of fetuses. Every single one of them was found to be female.

"50 Million Missing" is the name of a photo group started by Rita Banerji. Rita hopes to eventually represent each and every one of the missing girls with a photo, to put a human face on the numbers.

Rita saw my photos on Flickr and asked me to join. As I uploaded the photos, I realized what a massive undertaking this was - five photos, ten photos, drops in the bucket. Fifty million! As the faces appear on screen, I type a tiny note about each woman or girl - where I saw them, what they were doing. The enormity of the situation dawned on me.

I'll let Rita explain the rest (below).

Meanwhile, if you have photos of Indian women and girls, please join 50 Million Missing and upload them. At this time, there are only about 500 photos - there is a long way to go, in more than one sense.

From the 50 Million Missing site:
Through rampant feticide, infanticide, and the murder of young women by their husbands and inlaws for dowry, India has managed to invert its population ratio from 10:9, women to men, as is normal for any population, to 9:10. Further more India has also warped the gender ratio for 1/5 of the entire human population.

It is the HOPE of this website to have as many possible of the 50 million missing represented by a photograph. These can be of Indian women or girls, of any age, and community represented as portraits or shown as engaged in various activities -- which is life. It would help very much if there is a small personal commentary with the photo about the girl or woman so we can reverse the process of dehumanizing Indian women.

This is India's silent genocide -- and it is time for it to stop. I am also hoping that at some point those of us who are able to, will collectively either put out a book or start a touring exhibition -- and so bring this matter to head.

1 comment:

brother martin said...

i have also read that, due to malnutrition, the age of menopause among Indian women is dropping towards 30--just saw the movie "Children of Men," which posits a world in which human fertility has failed....coming soon to a country near you?