HUMAN TRAFFICKING, DOWRY PAYMENTS AND FEMALE CHILD IN INDIA

                 

Human trafficking and human discrimination starts in India at the birth of the female child. Recently I came to know about a report that parents abandon their female child and they are sold to other people. They grow eventually and become a victim of gender and labor discrimination. In most of the cases the law and other support of legal adoption is not exercised. Gender discrimination based on sex is pervasive across the world and this resulted in treating the female child inferior to the extent of which the girl children are growing up not understanding their human right.

Marco Alfano a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Economics, at the University College London posted in his blog in the World Bank website stating about Southeast Asia; he says parental gender preferences have been found to influence fertility levels. The parents want a certain number of sons and once they reach certain number of male children their fertility decisions are influenced.  When asked about their ideal number of children many Indian mothers state that they would like 2.8 children of which 1.4 should be boys, 1.0 girls and 0.4 of either gender. These attitudes are also reflected in reproductive choices: 54% of families in the sample stop childbearing after having had a boy and only 46% after a girl.

This is happening because of the dowry system and its influence in India. The 1980’s research estimates that dowries can be up to two thirds of the bride’s family assets and 4 out of 5 families paid or received dowry. The dowry system has been cited as one of the major reasons for female infanticide and sex-selective abortion as many families who live in poverty in India cannot afford to raise the funds for a suitable dowry. The unpaid dowry also can result in a forceful divorce, lack of existence of peace and lack of relationship in the family which include the extended family system. 

The national crisis continues in many part of India. According to an ABC News reported by Palash Kumar in 2006 Ten Million girls have been killed by their parents in India in the past 20 years. Every day 7,000 fewer girls are born in the country according to UNICEF.  Girl children are seen as a liability by many Indians. Former national minister Chowdhury said newborn girls have been killed in India by pouring sand or tobacco juice into their nostrils. In some cases the infants are buried alive in a pot.

Economic and education empowerment is the key it is the next side of the coin of gender discrimination and exploitation of women. India is a source and destination for trafficked women and girls into prostitution and bonded labor. The complexities of women empowerment is also embedded in class, caste, and religious identities. From a patriarchal or male-centric model of development to a female-centric model of development is needed for emerging superpower like India as an example for the world future developmental model. No country in the world can put its female population behind the curtain, no matter what kind of ideology, philosophy, theology or religion practiced. Nations that will not respect its women will never become great now, nor in the future.


Binu Peniel

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