Where are the women of India:
According to Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, there should be millions more women and girls living in India than there are. The acclaimed economist compared the natural ratio of men to women globally with the ratio in India, and twenty years ago had calculated that India was “missing” about thirty-seven million women. That number has escalated to fifty million today.
Rita Banerji ’90, whose photographs bravely document some of India’s least treasured citizens, explains, “Perhaps ‘missing’ is too innocuous a term for what is actually happening—the systematic and targeted annihilation of a group [through] female feticide, female infanticide, dowry-related murders, an abnormally high mortality rate for girls under five due to starvation and intentional medical neglect, and the highest maternal mortality rate in the world.
Numbers tell the story in chilling detail:
- Some one million female fetuses are aborted each year.
- Midwives in some regions regularly kill the infant girls they deliver for as little as $1.50.
- Dowry-related murders of women stand at about 25,000 cases a year.
- A UNICEF report found that the mortality rate for girls under five is more than 40 percent higher than for boys the same age.
- WHO and UNIFEM estimate that one pregnant woman dies every five minutes in India.
These conditions persist due to a deep-rooted mind-set Banerji describes as “unresisting acceptance of female genocide. It’s almost like ‘this is cultural, normal, how it is and will always be.’”
The rest is here
Rita Banerji has an online photo gallery with pictures of over 10,000 missing women and girls and is attempting to document the missing and put an end to the femicide.