Tuesday, November 20, 2007

World without women

The Hindu, November 18, 2007

The Other Half


In the late 1980s, when we had the first indications
that technology was being used to ensure that girls
were not born, a few people made rather prescient
predictions about the future. They predicted that
women would face much greater violence. They suggested
that women would be trafficked.
These campaigners against sex-selective abortions were
condemned as scare-mongerers. They were told they were
exaggerating to make a point. Fewer women would mean a
greater demand for them. That instead of dowry, women
could demand a higher price for marriage.

Realities now
We know now that the opposite has happened. Many of
the dire predictions made in the 1980s are coming
true. In the States where sex selection is most
rampant, there are entire villages where the men
cannot find women to marry. So they are “buying” women
from other States. And in some instances, where the
family can afford to buy just one woman, she is
expected to “service” all the men in the family.

An increasing number of studies and reports are now
revealing that this is happening not just in Punjab
and Haryana, the States with the worst sex ratios but
also in some districts of Uttar Pradesh. It is
possible that such incidents could be occurring in
other States as well but have not yet been reported.

The 2001 census was a wake-up call. It exposed the
damning Indian reality of falling sex ratios in the
0-6 years age group. The national average stood at 927
girls to 1,000 boys. Since then some efforts have been
put in place to implement the law to check
sex-selective abortions and to encourage parents with
girls. But clearly, so far, the impact of such
policies has not made a difference. The Third National
Family Health Survey has revealed that five years
later, the sex ratio in the age group has fallen to

(To read the rest of the article, click on the link)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Dressing down at work

The Hindu, November 4, 2007



The crowd was utterly conformist. Row upon row of neatly turned out women, the majority of them in subdued colours, mostly wearing salwar kameez, a few wearing saris and even fewer in trousers. The meeting was be ing held in Technopark, the area marked out for the IT sector just outside the Kerala capital of Thiruvananthapuram. Here, fairly ugly and unimaginative six to seven storey buildings punctuate acres of greenery. But step inside one of them and you enter a different world.
On each floor, you find young men and women working intensely and quietly in front of individual computers or crowded around a table in glass-fronted room listening in to a conference call as they deal with the demands of clients sitting in another part of the world. The only way you know you’re in Kerala and not in Mumbai or Delhi is the way the women dress. Conformity is the norm. Rarely does a woman stick out as being different.

Why then have some IT companies introduced a dress code for their employees? The reasons given are that bright clothing, or plunging necklines in women, or short skirts, or tight tee shirts and jeans are a “distraction” — for the men, one presumes. So should the person who is “distracted” be told to concentrate, or should the person who is ostensibly responsible for the distraction be ticked off?

Women know that they don’t need to dress any particular way to be accused of “distracting” men. You only have to be a woman. You need not be a beauty queen. You can be dressed in the dowdiest of clothes. But as far as the average male is concerned, particularly in some parts of India, you are fair game for unwanted remarks, stares and touch.

(To read the rest of the article, click on the link)