What is gendercide?

Gendercide refers to a systematic sex-selective killing, usually of females. This gender -based elimination can happen in the form of sex-selective abortion, infanticide, severe malnutrition, medical neglect, abandonment and dowry-related murders. Since such atrocities occur within the private realm, the issue of gendercide has not garnered widespread attention.

Where does gendercide occur?

The gender-based elimination of females occurs in areas which have a strong preference for males. The following regions have witnessed incidents of gendercide:
East Asia – China, Vietnam, Singapore, and Taiwan
South Asia – India, Pakistan, Syria, Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia
Eastern Europe – Albania, Romania, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Macedonia
North Africa – Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria
Sub-Saharan Africa – most countries
North America/Western Europe – primarily within Asian-expatriate communities

What does female foeticide mean?

Female foeticide refers to the act of killing a foetus because it is female. It distorts a nation’s sex-ratio, and denies the ‘right to life’ on the basis of belonging to the female sex. In India, currently, 60 million girls are missing due to female foeticide.

How warped is the sex-ratio in India?

For every 1000 boys aged 0-6 years old, there are now 919 girls. The ratio is more skewed in certain states like Haryana which has only 834 girls per 1000 boys.

What are the implications of a skewed sex-ratio?

Trafficking of girls increases as a result of a distorted sex-ratio, and they are often forced into prostitution. With the growing gender gap and lack of girls for potential grooms, India is also witnessing an issue of ‘bride trafficking’.  Reportedly, about 1,00,000 Indian women were trafficked for marriage in 2012, mainly into the Northern states like Haryana. This is akin to modern day slavery as the kidnapped girl, more often than not, acts as a ‘bride’ to all the men in the household.

What are the laws in India that protect the rights of women and criminalise injustice against them?

  • The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961) (Amended in 1986)
  • Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
  • Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994
  • The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of misuse) Act 1994
  • The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 (19 of 1929)
  • The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 (3 of 1988)
  • National Commission for Women Act, 1990 (20 of 1990)
  • The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 [As amended by the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2006, No. 43 of 2006]
  • The Married Women’s Property Act, 1874 (3 of 1874)
  • The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956
  • The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013

What is the PCPNDT Act?

Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 is an Act passed by the Indian Parliament which bans prenatal sex determination. This was done to combat female foeticides and the resultant declining sex-ratio in India.