May 28, 2024

Film highlights drought of Indian women

Half of second daughters and three-quarters of third daughters are aborted in New Delhi, according to a ten-year study of births beginning in 1993-94. The Christian Medical Association found that the ratio of female to male births was 542 per 1,000 boys if the first child had been a girl, and 219 if the first two children had been girls. With many families trying to have two-child families and with a thriving sex-selection industry offering ultrasound tests for as little as 500 rupees, the Indian sex ratio has dropped from 972 girls per 1,000 boys in 1901 to 933 in 2001. The natural ratio is about 1005.

Campaigns promoting the worth of girls and a government crackdown on illegal abortions of girls do not appear to have shaken Indians desire for boys. But now a dark and brutal film about a futuristic rural India without women has provoked a national debate about the consequences of India’s increasingly distorted sex ratio. The lurid Bollywood production, “Matrubhoomi (Motherland): a nation without women”, directed by 26-year-old Manis Jha, tells the story of a girl married to five brothers who is savagely abused by a whole village. Many magazines are now highlighting the issue.