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285 Indian girls shed 'unwanted' names

 
 
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 10:25 am
285 Indian girls shed 'unwanted' names
APBy CHAYA BABU - Associated Press | AP
10/22/11

MUMBAI, India (AP) — More than 200 Indian girls whose names mean "unwanted" in Hindi have chosen new names for a fresh start in life.

A central Indian district held a renaming ceremony Saturday that it hopes will give the girls new dignity and help fight widespread gender discrimination that gives India a skewed gender ratio, with far more boys than girls.

The 285 girls — wearing their best outfits with barrettes, braids and bows in their hair — lined up to receive certificates with their new names along with small flower bouquets from Satara district officials in Maharashtra state.

In shedding names like "Nakusa" or "Nakushi," which mean "unwanted" in Hindi, some girls chose to name themselves after Bollywood stars such as "Aishwarya" or Hindu goddesses like "Savitri." Some just wanted traditional names with happier meanings, such as "Vaishali," or "prosperous, beautiful and good."

"Now in school, my classmates and friends will be calling me this new name, and that makes me very happy," said a 15-year-old girl who had been named Nakusa by a grandfather disappointed by her birth. She chose the new name "Ashmita," which means "very tough" or "rock hard" in Hindi.

The plight of girls in India came to a focus after this year's census showed the nation's sex ratio had dropped over the past decade from 927 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6 to 914.

Maharashtra state's ratio is well below that, with just 883 girls for every 1,000 boys — down from 913 a decade ago. In the district of Satara, it is even lower, at 881.

Such ratios are the result of abortions of female fetuses, or just sheer neglect leading to a higher death rate among girls. The problem is so serious in India that hospitals are legally banned from revealing the gender of an unborn fetus in order to prevent sex-selective abortions, though evidence suggests the information gets out.

Part of the reason Indians favor sons is the enormous expense of marrying off girls. Families often go into debt arranging marriages and paying for elaborate dowries. A boy, on the other hand, will one day bring home a bride and dowry. Hindu custom also dictates that only sons can light their parents' funeral pyres.

Over the years, and again now, efforts have been made to fight the discrimination.

"Nakusa is a very negative name as far as female discrimination is concerned," said Satara district health officer Dr. Bhagwan Pawar, who came up with the idea for the renaming ceremony.

Other incentives, announced by federal or state governments every few years, include free meals and free education to encourage people to take care of their girls, and even cash bonuses for families with girls who graduate from high school.

Activists say the name "unwanted," which is widely given to girls across India, gives them the feeling they are worthless and a burden.

"When the child thinks about it, you know, 'My mom, my dad, and all my relatives and society call me unwanted,' she will feel very bad and depressed," said Sudha Kankaria of the organization Save the Girl Child. But giving these girls new names is only the beginning, she said.

"We have to take care of the girls, their education and even financial and social security, or again the cycle is going to repeat," she said.
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saab
 
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Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 10:57 am
Part of the reason Indians favor sons is the enormous expense of marrying off girls. Families often go into debt arranging marriages and paying for elaborate dowries. A boy, on the other hand, will one day bring home a bride and dowry.
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Although the dowry was legally prohibited in 1961, it continues to be highly institutionalized. The groom often demands a dowry consisting of a large sum of money, farm animals, furniture, and electronics.


The practice of dowry abuse is rising in India. The most severe in “bride burning”, the burning of women whose dowries were not considered sufficient by their husband or in-laws. Most of these incidents are reported as accidental burns in the kitchen or are disguised as suicide. That is rather easy as many kitchens have an open fire on the floor. Also saris now are often made of nylon or other easy to catch fire materials. As soon as possible the widow can get another bride and a new dowry.
It is evident that there exist deep rooted prejudices against women in India. Cultural practices such as the payment of dowry tend to subordinate women in Indian society.

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Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 11:41 am
A newer practice is men foreign men, Indians men from Canada and so on, marrying women for the dowry and disappearing with the cash, leaving the poor women destitute, un-marry-able in the future. Some of these women are then murdered for being unwanted. When I was in India, this was a big topic of discussion.
Sad, disgusting and true...
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Oct, 2011 09:33 am
@Ceili,
Horrible abuse of females in so many countries makes me want to vomit in rage.
These disgusting males seem to forget it was females that gave them birth.

BBB
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DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Oct, 2011 09:53 am
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
I wonder how hard these boys will have to hustle in order to bring home a wife?

With modern medicine causing a decline in birthing bed deaths, I suspect that the need for dowries will be eliminated.

I foresee a reversal in the perceived value of girls and boys, when there are 1.11 boys for every girl.
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