Cable TV Empowers Women in India and Pakistan?

Freakonomics is a series of books by authors Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner who find data points, patterns, correlations and trends that are often missed by mainstream economists and researchers. For example, the authors see how legalization of abortion may have caused significant crime rates decline in the United States in recent decades. They argue with various statistics to reject other possible explanations like gun control, strong economy, three-strikes laws etc. Authors say that the termination of unwanted pregnancies has led to fewer criminals on the streets of America.

In their latest book of the Freakonomics series, Superfreakonomics, the authors cite the findings of two American economists Robert Jensen and Emily Oster that cable TV in 2700 households empowered Indian women to be more autonomous. Cable TV households had lower birthrates, less domestic abuse and kept more girls in school. Here are some highlights from the book about India:

1. If women could choose their birthplace, India might not be a wise choice of a place for any of them to be born.

2. In spite of recent economic success and euphoria about India, the people of India remain excruciatingly poor.

3. Literacy is low, and corruption is high in India.

4. Only half the Indian households have electricity, and fewer have running water.

5. Only one in 4 Indian homes has a toilet.

6. 40% of families with girls want to have more children, but families with boys do not want a baby girl.

7. It's especially unlucky to be born female, baby boy is like a 401 K retirement plan, baby girl requires a dowry fund.

8. Smile Train in Chennai did cleft repair surgery at no cost for poor children. A man was asked how many children he had. He said he had 1, a boy. It turned out that he also had 5 daughters which he did not mention.

9. Indian midwives in Tamil Nadu are paid $2.50 to kill girls with cleft deformity.

10. Girls are highly undervalued, there are 35 million fewer females than males, presumed dead, killed by midwife or parent or starved to death. Unltrasound are used mainly to find and destroy female fetuses. Ultrasound and abortion are available even in the smallest villages with no electricity or clean water.

11. If lucky enough not to be aborted, girls face inequality and cruelty at every turn because of low social status of Indian women.

12. 51% of Indian men say wife beating is justified, 54% women agree, especially when dinner is burned or they leave home without husband's permission.

13. High number of unwanted pregnancies, STDs, HIV infections happen to Indian women when 15% of the condoms fail. Indian Council of Medical Research found that 60% of Indian men's genitalia are too small to fit the condoms manufactured to international standard sizes.

14. Indian laws to protect women are widely ignored. The government has tried monetary rewards to keep baby girls and supported microfinance for women. NGO programs, smaller condoms, and other projects have had limited success.

15. People had little interest in State run TV channel due to poor reception or boring programs. But cable television has helped women, as 150 million people between 2001-2006 got cable TV which gave them exposure to wider world.

16. American economists found that the effect of TV in 2700 households empowered women to be more autonomous. Cable TV households had lower birthrates, less domestic abuse and kept daughters in schools.

Freakonomics series authors Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner use the above facts to prove what they call the "Law of Unintended Consequences".

They argue that access to cable TV, not originally intended to help liberate women, has done more to improve the lives of Indian women than the many laws and government programs designed to help them.

Cable television is present in over 16 million Pakistani households accounting for 68% of the population in 2009. I am not aware of any studies done on the impact of cable TV on rural women in Pakistan, but my guess is that trends similar to India's are empowering women in Pakistan's rural households with growing cable TV access.

Related Links:

Media Boom in Pakistan

Gender Inequality Worst in South Asia

Grinding Poverty in Resurgent India

Women's Status in Pakistan

WEF Global Gender Gap Rankings 2009

India, Pakistan Contrasted 2010

Female Literacy Through Mobile Phones

Pakistan's Woman Speaker: Another Token or Real Change

Female Literacy Lags Far Behind in India and Pakistan

Female Genocide Unfolding in India

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Some highlights from the latest Superfreakonomics text:

A baby Indian girl who does grow into adulthood [i.e., who doesn't fall prey to selective abortion or infanticide] faces inequality at nearly every turn. She will earn less money than a man, receive worse health care and less education, and perhaps be subjected to daily atrocities. In a national health survey, 51 percent of Indian men said that wife-beating is justified under certain circumstances; more surprisingly, 54 percent of women agreed — if, for instance, a wife burns dinner or leaves the house without permission.

And:

Unfortunately, most [government and non-government aid] projects have proven complicated, costly, and, at best, nominally successful. A different sort of intervention, meanwhile, does seem to have helped. … It was called television.

And:

Rural Indian families who got cable TV began to have a lower birthrate than families without TV. (In a country like India, a lower birthrate generally means more autonomy for women and fewer health risks.) Families with TV were also more likely to keep their daughters in school, which suggests that girls were seen as more valuable, or at least deserving of equal treatment. (The enrollment rate for boys, notably, didn’t change.) … It appears that cable TV really did empower the women of rural India, even to the point of no longer tolerating domestic abuse. Or maybe their husbands were just too busy watching cricket.

http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/02/introducing-the-superfreakonomics-virtual-book-club-meet-emily-oster/comment-page-1/#comment-562005
Armil@cable tv said…
This is a great news! not only they are trying to entertain but empower also, most especially empowering women.
Riaz Haq said…
USAID has launched a "Women In Trade" initiative in Pakistan, according to Business Recorder:

ISLAMABAD: In conjunction with several multinational firms, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) is launching the Women in Trade Initiative to increase the participation of Pakistani women in the international trade sector.

“This initiative is part of the United States’ commitment to the people of Pakistan to support women’s empowerment,” said Dr. Marilyn Wyatt, wife of US Ambassador Cameron Munter, at the launch of the Women in Trade Initiative, says a press release received here on Tuesday.

“By raising the role of women in the international trade sector, we can enable them to contribute not only to Pakistan’s economy, but to the overall development of the country.”

Under this initiative, USAID has arranged three-month internships for 17 female university graduates with well-known companies such as TARGET Sourcing Services Pakistan, TEXLYNX, NISHAT Group, and Li & Fung Pakistan.

These women will gain skills in sourcing and marketing of products, product development and diversification and supply chain management.

The international trade sector in Pakistan currently employs very few women in managerial positions.

A recent USAID-funded study has shown women comprise less than 10 percent of management and 20 percent of junior staff in trade companies.

The Women in Trade initiative will work to set up linkages between international firms and local universities so that more women have opportunities to explore careers in international trade.

The USAID-funded initiative will also help companies select the best-suited male and female university graduates for training and potential future recruitment.


http://www.brecorder.com/pakistan/business-a-economy/19935-usaid-launches-women-in-trade-initiative-in-pakistan.html
Riaz Haq said…
Is India's population policy sexist? asks Soutik Biswas of the BBC:

Can the promise of a car or a mixer grinder help keep India's population in check?

Well, that's what health authorities in the northern state of Rajasthan apparently believe. They are offering a cheap car, among other things, as a prize in an attempt to sign up some 20,000 people to meet an ambitious sterilisation target. Time will tell whether this turns out to be another gimmick or an innovative incentive.

But what worries many is the ethics of such sterilisation drives in a largely patriarchal society like India.

As population expert Usha Rai says, the promise of such lucrative incentives typically make husbands push their wives to undergo sterilisation and avoid a range of contraceptives that are available to help limit the size of their families. There's enough evidence to support this concern.

Some 37% of India's married women - who use modern family planning methods - have opted for sterilisation, a government study has found. (Only 1% of males had opted for sterilisation.) Intrauterine devices, condoms and pills were being used by some 10% of the women.
Draconian

In India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, with 200 million people - and an economy the size of Qatar which has a population of less than 2 million - the bulk of women who use any modern method of family planning get sterilised.

Ever since the 1970s India has used a combination of coercion and incentives to carry out sterilisation drives to check population growth.

During the 22-month-old memergency in the mid-1970s when prime minister Indira Gandhi suspended democratic rule, the government embarked on a draconian campaign to sterilise poor men - they were dragged into operating theatres in makeshift camps, and police surrounded entire villages at night and herded the men into the camps. ....

Even the Planning Commission admits that female sterilisation has become the mainstay of the programme. High levels of infant and child mortality and preference for sons means that women delay sterilisation.

Experts believe that women should be offered more reversible choices of contraception like injectibles and implants which are not presently offered under India's family planning programme.

More importantly, they say, men should be pushed to take more responsibility for limiting their family - male methods account for only 6% of contraceptive use in India. Should women be bearing the brunt?


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-14117505
Riaz Haq said…
Here are excepts from a recent Businessweek story titled "On the job in Pakistan: Women":

When Naz Khan became Pakistan’s first female money-market trader 19 years ago, KASB Securities, the Merrill Lynch (BAC) affiliate that had hired her, needed to build a women’s restroom in its Karachi office. By the time Khan left last year to become chief financial officer at Engro Fertilizer, KASB had so many women on staff that “we had to get in line” to use the restroom, she says.
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More of them than ever are finding employment, doing everything from pumping gasoline and serving burgers at McDonald’s (MCD) to running major corporations. About 22 percent of Pakistani females over the age of 10 now work, up from 14 percent a decade ago, government statistics show. Women now hold 78 of the 342 seats in the National Assembly, and in July, Hina Rabbani Khar, 34, became Pakistan’s first female Foreign Minister. “The cultural norms regarding women in the workplace have changed,” says Maheen Rahman, 34, chief executive officer at IGI Funds, which manages some $400 million in assets. Rahman says she plans to keep recruiting more women for her company.

Much of the progress has come because women stay in school longer. More than 42 percent of Pakistan’s 2.6 million high school students last year were girls, up from 30 percent 18 years ago. Women made up about 22 percent of the 68,000 students in Pakistani universities in 1993; today, 47 percent of Pakistan’s 1.1 million university students are women, according to the Higher Education Commission. Half of all MBA graduates hired by Habib Bank, Pakistan’s largest lender, are now women. “Parents are realizing how much better a lifestyle a family can have if girls work,” says Sima Kamil, 54, who oversees 1,400 branches as head of retail banking at Habib. “Every branch I visit has one or two girls from conservative backgrounds,” she says.

There’s still a long way to go. The employment rate for men is triple that for women, and Pakistan’s female literacy rate is just 45 percent, vs. 70 percent for men. In agriculture, where women account for three-fourths of all workers, female laborers such as cotton and chili pickers earn less than 50¢ a day. In the informal manufacturing sector—companies that make, say, blouses, bedsheets, or soccer balls—women make up 57 percent of the workforce, but they spend more hours on the job and receive lower pay than their male counterparts, according to the Pakistan Institute of Labour and Economic Research. In 2009, the agency says, women in light manufacturing earned an average of 2,912 rupees ($34) monthly, about 40 percent of the average earnings for men.
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Some companies believe hiring women gives them a competitive advantage. Habib Bank says adding female tellers has helped improve customer service at the formerly state-owned lender because the men on staff don’t want to appear rude in front of women. And makers of household products say female staffers help them better understand the needs of their customers. “The buyers for almost all our product ranges are women,” says Fariyha Subhani, 46, CEO of Unilever Pakistan Foods, where 106 of the 872 employees are women. “Having women selling those products makes sense because they themselves are the consumers,” she says.

To attract more women, Unilever last year offered some employees the option to work from home, and the company has run an on-site day-care center since 2003. Engro, which has 100 women in management positions, last year introduced flexible working hours, a day-care center, and a support group where female employees can discuss challenges they encounter. “Today there is more of a focus at companies on diversity,” says Engro Fertilizer CFO Khan, 42. The next step, she says, is ensuring that “more women can reach senior management levels.”

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/now-on-the-job-in-pakistan-women-09082011.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here are some excerpts of news stories ad stats of rape in South Asia:

1. India Tribune:

New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India’s major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures.

•South Africa – It has one of the highest rates, with 277,000 reported cases. The same year a survey by the Medical Research Council found that one in four men admitted to raping someone.

•United States – More than 89,241 rape cases were reported. Criminals face life behind bars, and in some states, castration is an option.

•India – Reported a little more than 21,397 cases.

•United Kingdom – 15,084 cases were reported. A suspect found guilty, faces a maximum conviction of life in prison.

•Mexico – Nearly 14,078 cases were reported. In some parts of the country, penalties may consist of a few hours in jail, or minor fines.

•Germany – Counts the highest number of reported rape cases in Europe, just under 8,000.

•Russia – Almost 5,000 cases were reported, and the crime holds a punishment of 4-10 years in jail.


http://www.indiatribune.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10195:rape-statistics-around-the-world-&catid=107:coverpage&Itemid=471

2. Express Tribune:

Violence against women makes up 95 per cent of cases of violence reported in Pakistan. These statistics are even more chilling, bearing in mind that 70 per cent of cases of violence against women do not get registered. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimates that a rape occurs in Pakistan every two hours and a gang rape every eight hours.

Aurat Foundation’s report titled Situation of Violence against Women in Pakistan 2010 discloses that Punjab dominates with 2,690 registered cases out of a total of 4,069 incidents in various parts of Pakistan.

Interior Ministry documents placed before the National Assembly in 2008 revealed that a staggering 7,546 women were raped in a mere 24-month span between 2007-2009, a rate of 314 rapes every month.

According to War Against Rape, data released by 103 police stations in Karachi show an eight per cent rise in registered cases and seven per cent more medico-legal examinations in 2010 from 2009.

Since courts do not place restraining orders on all the accused released on bail, they often continue to harass the survivors. Whither justice when 31 per cent of cases reported against a family member have resulted in the family shifting away from their home, and removing themselves from the legal system to avoid social persecution?


http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/4479/why-the-deafening-silence-after-rape/
Riaz Haq said…
Here are ten reasons why India has sexual violence problems according to a Washington Post blog:

1. Few female police: Studies show that women are more likely to report sex crimes if female police officers are available. India has historically had a much lower percentage of female police officers than other Asian countries. ...When women do report rape charges to male police, they are frequently demeaned.


2. Not enough police in general: There aren’t enough police dedicated to protecting ordinary citizens, rather than elites, a Brookings article argues, and the officers that are available often lack basic evidence-gathering and investigative training and equipment:


3. Blaming provocative clothing: There’s a tendency to assume the victims of sexual violence somehow brought it on themselves. In a 1996 survey of judges in India, 68 percent of the respondents said that provocative clothing is an invitation to rape. In response to the recent gang-rape incident, a legislator in Rajasthan suggested banning skirts as a uniform for girls in private schools, citing it as the reason for increased cases of sexual harassment.

4. Acceptance of domestic violence: The Reuters TrustLaw group named India one of the worst countries in the world for women this year, in part because domestic violence there is often seen as deserved. A 2012 report by UNICEF found that 57 percent of Indian boys and 53 percent of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 think wife-beating is justified.

5. A lack of public safety: Women generally aren’t protected outside their homes. The gang rape occurred on a bus, and even Indian authorities say that the country’s public places can be unsafe for women. Many streets are poorly lit, and there’s a lack of women’s toilets, a Women and Child Development Ministry report said recently. ...

6. Stigmatizing the victim: When verbal harassment or groping do occur in public areas, bystanders frequently look the other way rather than intervene, both to avoid a conflict and because they — on some level — blame the victim, observers say.

7. Encouraging rape victims to compromise: In a recent separate rape case, a 17-year-old Indian girl who was allegedly gang-raped killed herself after police pressured her to drop the case and marry one of her attackers.

Rape victims are often encouraged by village elders and clan councils to “compromise” with the family of accused and drop charges — or even to marry the attacker. Such compromises are aimed at keeping the peace between families or clan groups...

8. A sluggish court system: India’s court system is painfully slow, in part because of a shortage of judges. The country has about 15 judges for every 1 million people, while China has 159. A Delhi high court judge once estimated it would take 466 years to get through the backlog in the capital alone.

9. Few convictions: For rapes that do get reported, India’s conviction rate is no more than 26 percent. There is also no law on the books covering routine daily sexual harassment, which is euphemistically called “eve-teasing.” The passing of a proposed new sexual assault law has been delayed for seven years.

10. Low status of women: Perhaps the biggest issue, though, is women’s overall lower status in Indian society. For poor families, the need to pay a marriage dowry can make daughters a burden. India has one of the lowest female-to-male population ratios in the world because of sex-selective abortion and female infanticide. Throughout their lives, sons are fed better than their sisters, are more likely to be sent to school and have brighter career prospects.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/12/29/india-rape-victim-dies-sexual-violence-proble/
Riaz Haq said…
Here are some excerpts of a BBC post by Soutik Biswas on heavy abuse faced by India women:

Female foetuses are aborted and baby girls killed after birth, leading to an an appallingly skewed sex ratio. Many of those who survive face discrimination, prejudice, violence and neglect all their lives, as single or married women.

TrustLaw, a news service run by Thomson Reuters, has ranked India as the worst country in which to be a woman. This in the country where the leader of the ruling party, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, at least three chief ministers, and a number of sports and business icons are women. It is also a country where a generation of newly empowered young women are going out to work in larger numbers than ever before.

But crimes against women are rising too.

With more than 24,000 reported cases in 2011, rape registered a 9.2% rise over the previous year. More than half (54.7%) of the victims were aged between 18 and 30. Most disturbingly, according to police records, the offenders were known to their victims in more than 94% of the cases. Neighbours accounted for a third of the offenders, while parents and other relatives were also involved. Delhi accounted for over 17% of the total number of rape cases in the country.

And it is not rape alone. Police records from 2011 show kidnappings and abductions of women were up 19.4%, women being killed in disputes over dowry payments by 2.7%, torture by 5.4%, molestation by 5.8% and trafficking by an alarming 122% over the previous year.

The Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen has estimated that more than 100m women are "missing" worldwide - women who would have been around had they received similar healthcare, medicine and nutrition as men.

New research by economists Siwan Anderson and Debraj Ray estimates that in India, more than 2m women are missing in a given year.

The economists found that roughly 12% of the missing women disappear at birth, 25% die in childhood, 18% at the reproductive ages, and 45% at older ages.

They found that women died more from "injuries" in a given year than while giving birth - injuries, they say, "appear to be indicator of violence against women".

Deaths from fire-related incidents, they say, is a major cause - each year more than 100,000 women are killed by fires in India. The researchers say many cases could be linked to demands over a dowry leading to women being set on fire. Research also found a large number of women died of heart diseases.

These findings point to life-long neglect of women in India. It also proves that a strong preference for sons over daughters - leading to sex selective abortions - is just part of the story.

Clearly, many Indian women face threats to life at every stage - violence, inadequate healthcare, inequality, neglect, bad diet, lack of attention to personal health and well-being.
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Angry citizens believe that politicians, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, are being disingenuous when they promise to toughen laws and speed up the prosecution of rapists and perpetrators of crime against women.

How else, they ask, can political parties in the last five years have fielded candidates for state elections that included 27 candidates who declared they had been charged with rape?

How, they say, can politicians be believed when there are six elected state legislators who have charges of rape against them?

But the renewed protests in Delhi after the woman's death hold out some hope. Has her death come as an inflexion point in India's history, which will force the government to enact tougher laws and people to begin seriously thinking about the neglect of women?

It's early days yet, but one hopes these are the first stirrings of change.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-20863860
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a NY Times Op Ed on a woman's experience of living in Delhi:

I LIVED for 24 years in New Delhi, a city where sexual harassment is as regular as mealtime. Every day, somewhere in the city, it crosses the line into rape.

As a teenager, I learned to protect myself. I never stood alone if I could help it, and I walked quickly, crossing my arms over my chest, refusing to make eye contact or smile. I cleaved through crowds shoulder-first, and avoided leaving the house after dark except in a private car. At an age when young women elsewhere were experimenting with daring new looks, I wore clothes that were two sizes too large. I still cannot dress attractively without feeling that I am endangering myself.

Things didn’t change when I became an adult. Pepper spray wasn’t available, and my friends, all of them middle- or upper-middle-class like me, carried safety pins or other makeshift weapons to and from their universities and jobs. One carried a knife, and insisted I do the same. I refused; some days I was so full of anger I would have used it — or, worse, had it used on me.

The steady thrum of whistles, catcalls, hisses, sexual innuendos and open threats continued. Packs of men dawdled on the street, and singing Hindi film songs, rich with double entendres, was how they communicated. To make their demands clear, they would thrust their pelvises at female passers-by.

If only it was just public spaces that were unsafe. In my office at a prominent newsmagazine, at the doctor’s office, even at a house party — I couldn’t escape the intimidation.

On Dec. 16, as the world now knows, a 23-year-old woman and a male friend were returning home after watching the movie “Life of Pi” at a mall in southwest Delhi. After they boarded what seemed to be a passenger bus, the six men inside gang-raped and tortured the woman so brutally that her intestines were destroyed. The bus service had been a ruse. The attackers also severely beat up the woman’s friend and threw them from the vehicle, leaving her to die.

The young woman didn’t oblige. She had started that evening watching a film about a survivor, and must have been determined to survive herself. Then she produced another miracle. In Delhi, a city habituated to the debasement of women, tens of thousands of people took to the streets and faced down police officers, tear gas and water cannons to express their outrage. It was the most vocal protest against sexual assault and rape in India to date, and it set off nationwide demonstrations.
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The volume of protests in public and in the media has made clear that the attack was a turning point. The unspeakable truth is that the young woman attacked on Dec. 16 was more fortunate than many rape victims. She was among the very few to receive anything close to justice. She was hospitalized, her statement was recorded and within days all six of the suspected rapists were caught and, now, charged with murder. Such efficiency is unheard-of in India.

In retrospect it wasn’t the brutality of the attack on the young woman that made her tragedy unusual; it was that an attack had, at last, elicited a response.


http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/02/opinion/the-unspeakable-truth-about-rape-in-india.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a report on the rape of a 5-year-old girl in India:

A five year old girl who was raped and left in a critical condition has been abandoned by her parents at India's leading hospital, an opposition leader has revealed amid growing anger over sexual assaults on children.

Sushma Swaraj, parliamentary leader of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, was visiting another five year old rape victim in a critical condition whose case had sparked protests throughout the capital when she was told by nurses of the abandoned girl and other victims they had treated.

The discovery of more child rape victims at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has revived the intense debate and national introspection over the scale of sexual violencein the country which followed the gang rape of a 23 year old student on a Delhi bus in December. She died two weeks later from chronic internal injuries.

Mrs Swaraj said she had believed that debate would lead to improvemed public safety for women, but Indian women are now more at risk than before. "I had thought that after Damini case thinking will change. Unfortunately, the situation has worsened," she said.

Human rights campaigners said there had been a 336 per cent increased in child rapes in India since 2001, from 2,113 cases to 7,112 in 2011. But even this figure is likely to be an underestimate because only a minority of cases are reported to the police, they said.

In this latest case, the family had reported their daughter missing soon after she disappeared but the police were reluctant to investigate and later offered them 2000 rupees, around 25 pounds, to remain silent about it, the family said. When the family and their friends demonstrated over their treatment, one officer, who has since been suspended, was seen slapping a young female protestor.

Their daughter had been kidnapped on April 15th and raped and object-raped in an hour long ordeal before she was locked in a room and left to die. She was found 40 hours later and was rushed to hospital where doctors said she had suffered chronic internal injuries and that they had found a bottle of hair oil inside her. She has since had a colostomy operation and may face further reconstructive surgery, but is now in a stable condition, doctors said....


http://www.businessinsider.com/5-year-old-victim-abandoned-in-hospital-as-india-faces-child-rape-crisis-2013-4
Riaz Haq said…
Cast and gender in India

In 1993, two constitutional amendments established a 33 percent minimum quota for women in village and district councils. And in 1996, the Women’s Reservation Bill (WRB) was introduced to extend that quota to the lower house of the Indian Parliament and all state legislative assemblies.

Nineteen years later, the bill is still pending. Critically, the most powerful opposition to the WRB has come from OBC and Dalit parties, which fear that quotas for women would limit the lower castes’ newfound political power. For many, caste identification is stronger than gender identification, and the women’s movement has long been criticized for being overly focused on the concerns of upper-caste women and insufficiently sensitive to the problem of caste.

Some critics assert that in basing political representation on caste, India has made caste identity inescapable. Upward social movement does not change caste identity; an individual who improves his or her economic status is still marked by his or her caste.

Although quotas have opened up the possibility of political representation—and even higher education—for some lower-caste individuals, they have not brought about increased equality in the social sphere. Caste persists in the social realm in part because caste identity is the path to political recognition and power. And as long as caste identity is the key to political recognition, the pernicious social aspects of caste will continue to define Indian society.

At the end of the debate in the Constituent Assembly that approved the Indian constitution in 1950, Ambedkar warned, “We are going to enter a life of contradictions. In politics, we will have equality, and in social and economic life, we will have inequality.… We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment, or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this assembly has so laboriously constructed.”

Indian democracy has not blown up. But Ambedkar’s contradiction persists, and the caste foundation of India’s political structure maintains the hierarchy at the root of the country’s tremendous inequality of status and condition.

Much of the careful thought of the 19th-century reformers and the founding generation has been shunted aside by the force of caste-based politics on the one hand and capitalist materialism on the other. The political principles on which the Indian state is founded have not been sufficient to create an inclusive, egalitarian society.

Although the post-independence generation of Congress politicians promoted a secular vision of the Indian nation, they did not pursue the kinds of reforms that might have brought social reality closer to their political ideal. In doing so, they opened the way for the ascendance of caste-based politics and, ultimately, the more reactionary rise of religion in politics.

Hindu nationalism, with its dual focus on cultivating traditional social practices and providing social services afforded neither by the state nor economic growth, would seem to provide the strongest alternative to a modern capitalist society.

But Hindu nationalism itself has adapted to India’s increasing wealth. The upper castes, particularly the Brahmins, once prided themselves on simple, even ascetic, living; they now hold up material success as another sign of caste superiority. The traditional Hindu elite is no longer distinguishable from the modern economic elite.

http://www.newsweek.com/modis-india-caste-inequality-and-rise-hindu-nationalism-356734
Riaz Haq said…
Five women killed in #India by villagers suspecting witchcraft. Some dragged out of homes, stoned to death http://gu.com/p/4bc48/stw

In the latest incident villagers with sticks and knives attacked the five women on Friday night in the town of Kanjia, police officials said.

“The women were dragged out of their home while asleep and beaten to death by the villagers suspecting them to be witches … some were even stoned to death,” said Jharkhand police spokesperson SN Pradhan.

According to Indian government statistics around 2,000 people, almost all women, were killed after being branded witches between 2000 and 2012. Many attacks go unreported, campaigners say.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an interesting interview of Sujit Saraf of Naatak.org with KQED's Michael Krasny on treatment of Hindu widows, obsession with white complexion and high rates of rape and crime against women in India:

Since 1995, Naatak has been staging plays in the South Bay. The theater company identifies itself as the "largest Indian theater in the U.S." Its latest musical production, "Vrindavan," takes a closer look at the politics and social ills behind the city of Vrindavan, where widows are sent to live after their husbands die. We talk to playwright and artistic director Sujit Saraf about the new production and the company's larger artistic role in Silicon Valley. We'll also talk to KQED senior arts editor Chloe Veltman about what to watch for this fall arts season.

Host: Michael Krasny

Guests:
Sujit Saraf, novelist, playwright and director of Naatak, a theater and film company in Santa Clara
Chloe Veltman, senior arts editor for KQED

http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201508261030
Riaz Haq said…
#India's #Maharashtra temple ‘purifies’ #Hindu diety after a woman's worship "desecrates" it - #Modi #BJP #gendergap http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/article7930551.ece …

A Lord Shani temple in Ahmadnagar district of Maharashtra performed a ‘purification puja’ on Sunday after a young woman offered worship to the idol placed on a platform from where women are traditionally barred.

Authorities at the Shani Shingnapur temple also suspended seven workers for “negligence” while one trustee resigned taking moral responsibility.

The incident took place on Saturday afternoon when the woman, whose identity is unknown, caught security personnel unawares and climbed the platform to perform puja. According to the temple authorities, it all happened within 30 seconds. A few devotees confronted her after the incident but eventually let her go.

“Women have been barred from climbing the platform for hundreds of years. This act was against the rituals that have been going on for years,” said Sayaram Bankar, a temple trustee, justifying the purification ceremony.

Priests bathed the idol with oil and milk, while all shops in the vicinity remained closed till the ceremony was over.

Mr. Bankar said the woman was let off unharmed. “We do not know who she is. She was confronted and let go. She was not attacked or abused,” he said. Mr. Bankar will resign on Monday, bowing to demands from the Ahmadnagar gramsabha.

Practice prevalent in Maharashtra

The Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmadnagar district of Maharashtra attracts thousands of devotees daily. Worshippers of the famous Sai Baba temple in Shirdi make it a point to visit the Shani Shingnapur temple, also.

The practice of barring women from the inner sanctum of religious places is prevalent in some of Maharashtra’s most revered shrines, among them the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai. The dargah’s trust has cited menstruation as one of the reasons for not allowing women into the ‘mazaar.’

In response to a public interest litigation petition filed by activists Noorjehan Niaz and Zakia Soman of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, the trust said many religions impose restrictions on women owing to menstruation, perceived as “unclean or embarrassing.” “A woman can at any time have menstrual periods,” the trust said in its affidavit earlier this year.

Many organisations have condemned the Shani Shingnapur temple’s action. “Purifying the temple is an act that has to be condemned. It’s a discrimination against women. At a time when young men and women are coming together with progressive ideas, such actions only take society backwards,” said Ranjana Gavande of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti.
Riaz Haq said…
Social change in Pakistan: a conversation with Mr Arif Hasan
BloomsburyPakistan organised an event, ‘Social change in Pakistan: a conversation with Mr
Arif Hasan’ on May 11, 2015.

The migration from rural areas, along with global influences from informal capitalism, forced
huge changes in the character of urban areas as well, particularly in katchi abaadis. Once
these abaadis were purely working class settlements, women did not work, the informal
sector worked only within these abaadis, and language reflected social hierarchy. Now, these
are no longer working class settlements: global communication technologies have flooded
them, women have educated themselves and are working in service sectors, and people have
developed a strong sense of identity and aspirations that they did not have before. If we take
the age group from 15 to 24 as an illustration, the effect of these changes can be observed. In
1981, 39% women and 17% of men in this age group in Karachi were married; extrapolating
the 1998 census shows that less than 18% of women and less than 6% of men are now
married. As the demand for education increases, a huge network of private schools has
emerged. As children of this generation grew up, many new universities were established,
both in public and private sector.

A very powerful trend that captures various aspects of these changes is the significant rise of
court marriages. In 1992, there were 10-15 marriage applications per day. By 2006 this had
risen to more than 200 per day and by some estimates the number now stands at around 800
per day. This rise indicates changes in family structures, weakening of biradari system,
heightened consciousness of individuality and personal aspirations.
Just as in rural areas, these progressive changes are being resisted in urban areas as well by
conservative forces which have joined hands with religious elements and use informal
economic power – land mafias for example – to retain power. The religious element received
a huge support from the state as well during the Zia era which saw state suppression of
student politics, artistic activities and political dissent. As a result, the overall tenor of society
has remained conservative with a rising anti-western/modern discourse. Yet, beneath the
surface a process of individualism and freedom continues, as reflected in the figures for
education and marriage choices. One way in which many young people, women in particular,
have negotiated these dynamics is by adopting conservative religious symbolism – the veil,
for example – while continuing to participate in modern life.

Despite the generally pessimistic picture painted above, Mr Hasan remained optimistic about
the future. He saw the current struggles as a necessary phase in social transformation, and
expressed the belief that human spirit for freedom has awakened in the younger generation,
particularly women, and in the medium to long term this spirit will overcome conservative
resistance. His approach was a good example of Gramscian words that “I'm a pessimist
because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.”

http://nebula.wsimg.com/e1220c34bb211727621e460d11b3f9a5?AccessKeyId=D38F223A1FE944D1A306&disposition=0&alloworigin=1
Riaz Haq said…
BBC News - #India textbook lists bride's 'ugliness' as cause for #dowry. #misogyny

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-38852290

A textbook in the western Indian state of Maharashtra has caused outrage after it listed "ugliness" as a reason for the increased demand for dowry.
The textbook said: "If a girl is ugly and handicapped then it becomes difficult for her to get married. To marry such girls [the] bridegroom and his family demand more dowry."
A minister told local media that the offending passage would be removed.
Pictures of the text were widely circulated on social media.
Many pointed out that such texts did little to remove existing prejudices in Indian society.
Paying and accepting dowry is a centuries-old South Asian tradition where the bride's parents gift cash, clothes and jewellery to the groom's family.
Why are India's housewives killing themselves?
Five bizarre 'lessons' in Indian textbooks
The practice has been illegal in India since 1961, but it continues to thrive and campaigners say it leaves women vulnerable to domestic violence and even death.
Disputes can arise over how much money should be paid and over what timescale. In some cases when grooms and their families do not receive their desired amount, brides can be subject to terrible abuse.
In 2015, the Women and Child Development Ministry told parliament that more than 8,0000 dowry deaths had been reported for each of the previous three years.

This is not the first time Indian text books have been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.
A teacher in the central Indian state of Chhatisgarh last year complained about a textbook for 15-year-olds in the state, which said that unemployment levels had risen post-independence because women had begun working in various sectors.
And in 2006, it was discovered that a textbook for 14-year-olds in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan compared housewives to donkeys.
Riaz Haq said…
#India: Men gang-rape woman, then smash her skull with bricks @AJENews #rape #Modi #BJP http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/05/india-men-gang-rape-woman-smash-skull-bricks-170515070236159.html `An Indian woman was gang-raped and then brutally murdered by men who smashed her skull with bricks after she had threatened to inform authorities, police in the northern state of Haryana said on Monday.

Two men were arrested for rape and murder in Sonipat town, and six more were being investigated after the victim's mother accused them of involvement, Ashwin Shenvi, superintendent of police, told the Reuters news agency.

The 23-year old woman, a labourer, was taken by the men - at least one of whom knew her - by car from near her home in Sonipat to the nearby city of Rohtak, where they raped her, Shenvi said.

"When she said to them she would complain, they hammered her skull in with bricks," he said. "The way that they brutalised her is horrific."
Riaz Haq said…
BBC News - #Indian #Hindu man kills wife over dinner delay. #women #India #domesticviolence

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-40553992#

Police in India say they have arrested a 60-year-old man who fatally shot his wife for serving his dinner late.
Ashok Kumar came home drunk on Saturday night and got into an argument with his wife, Rupesh Singh, a senior police officer in Ghaziabad city near the capital Delhi, told the BBC.
Sunaina, 55, was taken to hospital with a gunshot wound to her head, but by then she had died, reports said.
Mr Kumar has confessed to his crime and now regrets his actions, Mr Singh said.
"The man [Mr Kumar] used to drink every day. On Saturday, he came home drunk and started having an argument with his wife. She was upset with his drinking habit and wanted to talk about it, but he wanted dinner immediately," Mr Singh said.
"He got frustrated with the delay and shot her," he added.
India 'fails' victims of abuse
Indian brides get bats to prevent abuse
Domestic violence has been the most reported violent crime against women in the country every year for more than a decade now.
In 2015, an incident of domestic violence was reported every four minutes under the legal definition of dowry deaths, harassment over dowry related crimes, cruelty by husband or his relatives and domestic violence.
The BBC's Geeta Pandey in Delhi says such violence is not unique to India - it occurs around the world - but what sets it apart in India from many other countries is the culture of silence and approval that often surrounds it.
According to a family survey carried out by the government, more than 54% of men and 51% of women said it was ok for a man to beat his wife if she disrespected her in-laws, neglected her home or children, or even over something as trivial as putting less - or more - salt in the food.

Riaz Haq said…
A 10-year-old #Indian girl was raped and impregnated. A court denied her an #abortion. #rape #India

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/07/20/a-10-year-old-indian-girl-was-raped-and-impregnated-a-court-denied-her-an-abortion/?utm_term=.b7979947322f

India has the world’s largest population of sexually abused children, with a child under age 10 raped every 13 hours, as the BBC reported in May. More than 10,000 children were raped in the country in 2015. In most cases, the abusers are relatives or family friends, according to the BBC.

A court in India on Tuesday ordered a 10-year-old girl whose parents say she was raped and impregnated by her uncle to carry her fetus to term, ruling she is too young and her pregnancy too advanced to have an abortion.

The girl, who has not been identified, is six months pregnant and sought medical attention after her maternal uncle allegedly raped her several times, CBS News reported.

The district court in the northern city of Chandigarh based its decision on an opinion by a panel of doctors from the city’s Government Medical College and Hospital, where the girl was examined, according to the hospital’s medical superintendent.

“If you abort then the risk to life is greater,” the superintendent told The Washington Post in a brief phone interview Wednesday.

A 1970s law in India known as the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act bars abortions beyond 20 weeks, though courts have made exceptions if the fetus is not viable or if the mother’s life is at risk.

According to CBS, the hospital’s eight-member panel determined that the fetus was viable and could survive even if it was delivered immediately. CBS quoted an unnamed senior doctor on the panel who said abortion was “not an option at this stage.”

The hospital told the Times of India on Tuesday: “The victim is six months pregnant, as revealed by her ultrasound reports. We have submitted our medical advice to the court regarding termination of the foetus.”

The girl’s parents found out their daughter was pregnant after she complained of stomach pains, according to the Indian Express. She later reportedly told her mother that her uncle had raped her a half-dozen times when he visited the family home. The uncle was arrested, and the parents petitioned the court for an abortion, the Indian Express reported.

Doctors say it is biologically possible for a girl to become pregnant as soon as she begins ovulating, although rare for a 10 year old. By and large, medical experts agree that carrying and delivering a baby at age 15 or younger can come with life-threatening complications, including anemia, high blood pressure and hemorrhaging.

On top of that, pelvic bones do not fully develop until women reach their late teens. Before that point vaginal births and full-term pregnancies are dangerous, and even Caesarean sections present significant risks, they say. Such problems, along with complications from unsafe abortions, were the top cause of death among female adolescents in 2015, according to the World Health Organization.

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