International Day of the Girl Child is a worldwide awareness day held by the United Nations; it is also known as the Day of Girls and the International Day of the Girl. October 11, 2012, marks the First Day of the Girl Child. The observation upholds more opportunity for girls and raises awareness of gender inequality faced by girls universally based upon their gender.
The inequality faced by the girls is in various areas such as access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, violence against them and whatnot. The theme of Day of Girls 2019 is “Girl Force: Unscripted and Unstoppable“. If we see this from a broader spectrum, we can say that the girls are enjoying more power when compared to olden days.
Several movements are organised by adolescent girls now. They are tackling issues related to gender-based violence, climate change, self-esteem, and girls’ rights to enter places of worship or public spaces during menstruation. Girls are affirming that they are Unscripted and Unstoppable. This year’s theme also honours the achievements of girls since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
What is the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action?
Established in of 1995 (Beijing Platform for Action) is the most pretentious road map for the empowerment of women and girls universally. In 2020, it will turn 25 years since the Beijing Platform for Action introduced strategic objectives and actions for the achievement of gender equality in 12 critical areas of concern.
Situation in India
Everyday we get to and hear thousands of news reports related to girls being abused–both physically and mentally. Some are related to acid attacks, dowry, rape cases, harassment from the workplace and many more.
So has there been any improvement in the gender inequality? Yes, we can’t deny the fact that the situation has improved a lot. However, there are still evil and unethical practices being followed in our country.
You will be disturbed to know the facts and figures. As per the reports of UNCIEF (2017), India India has the highest total number of child brides in the world – 15,509,000. Girl brides below the age of 18 come up to 27% and 7% falls below the age of 15. The reasons stated for this are poverty, household labour, traditional customs, and whatnot. India has committed to eliminating child; early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
At least 117 million girls globally go “missing” due to sex-selective abortions. According to a study conducted by the Asian Centre for Human Rights– a Delhi based NGO revealed that preference of boys over girls is one of the main reason for female foeticide. Dowry system in South Asia also contributes to female infanticide as it makes daughters “an unaffordable economic burden.”
As per the report of CIA World Factbook 2016, India stands 4th with 112 males/ 100 females in sex ratio at birth. In India, the Pre-conception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Act 1994, prohibits the sex-selection or disclosure of sex of the foetus.
According to the Population Research Institute, at least 12,771,043 sex-selective abortions took place in India between 2000 and 2014. Though there are rules, illegal sex-selection prevails.
Violence against Women/ girls:
It can be typically– sexual, physical, mental violence such as domestic abuse, sexual assault, murder, acid attack and more. Violence against women in India is truly more present than it may seem at first glance, as many expressions of violence are not regarded as crimes. In most of the cases, it goes unreported or undocumented due to absolute Indian cultural values and beliefs. All these reasons contribute to India’s Gender Inequality Index rating of 0.524 in 2017, putting it in the bottom 20% of ranked countries for that year.
Violence related to dowry, honour killing, Witchcraft-related murders and many more such evil practices leads to the death of girls and women. In 2018 around 5,000 dowry deaths are recorded. Honour killing is where a family member is murdered as they brought down the honour of the family in society. The most prominent areas where honour killings occur in India are northern regions. Honour killings are mainly seen in Haryana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh.
Rape/ sexual abuse
Rape is a word that infuriates our souls. It is the worst form of violence and a black mark on humanity. No one is safe from evil hands. Children, girls reaching their adolescence, women not a single person born as a girl is safe. If we check the reports of child abuse reported between January 1, to June 30 this year — 24, 212 cases of child abuse have been registered in India. It means approximately 4000 cases in a month, 130 in a day and one in every five minutes.
The rape cases increase by every passing day, though we have laws–it seems like these are just in papers. As by the time case get closed, the girl might have gone through the plight of keeping herself and her family safe. The irony is that our society blames the girls–the VICTIM not the person who did the crime.
Above noted are just some of the atrocities which a girl goes through in the name of gender inequality. Let me remind you viewer we say ourselves as a progressing country, but these facts and figures show a different side of PROGRESS we boast about. I won’t say to everyone to protect girls, but I want everyone to teach your sons to behave appropriately–not just when they are being watched, but even when they are not.