The 2011 population census of India reveals a terrible story. The national child sex ratio shows that for every 1000 boys there are only 914 girls compared to 927, a decade ago. This means a fewer girls have been born in India over the last decade, suggesting that female foeticide continues despite laws prohibiting Pre-Natel Sex Determination tests and Sex selective abortions.
The crimes committed against the girl child isn’t new in India, a society where there is a strong preference for a male child. India has a history of gender discrimination ranging from the killings to abuse of girl child. Subsequent campaigns against these crimes led to abandoning of female infants leading to an overflow of girls in adoption centers.
Also, it is not only the gender which forms the basis for discrimination in India. Even the colour of skin can lead to a bias. In a country whose population is predominantly brown skinned, the fair skin is considered as the symbol of beauty. It is quite common to hear people say this, “You are dark, but good looking?” In other words, dark complexion is considered to be ugly.
Now, one can only imagine what it means to be born as a girl and that too with a dark skin.
Fistful of Dreams is an ongoing project to foreground the issues of gender and racial discrimination in India. In the first year of the project, I follow the life of a 5 year old, dark skinned girl named Palguni, from the first day she was adopted by a single woman with another adopted daughter. Palguni’s story tries to let the families who have participated in the elimination of a generation of girls know on what they have missed out. The story hopes to build an opinion against gender discrimination at birth.
(UPDATE: Fistful of Dreams is now available as an e-book for iPad/iPhone/iPod. Also, the print version of Fistful of Dreams is continues to be available as a book in a hard bound and soft-cover edition. Please click here to preview the book or buy it.)
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