Sunday, July 8, 2012


It has been a while since my last post, so I will write two this week to catch up from where I left off! I have already begun to detail my past month at Vital Voices, but, before I forget the details, I would like to share about my appalling research experience at work today.

I spent all day researching a general background of India. Yes, I know that India is an enormous country and therefore it may seem a broad task. When I walked in to my supervisor’s office this morning, she explained that I was to take a stab at the initial “briefing book” for the leadership training conference in Mumbai India this October (I will explain further about these conferences in my next blog post). The attendees of the conference are handed a binder with everything from flight information to general background about the area. I wrote up sections about the geography, population, religion, government, economy, and more.

The most interesting section, and the most relevant to Vital Voices, described the “Conditions for Women” in the country. While researching, I came across a term that I have never before heard—gendercide. It was coined by Mary Anne Warren in 1985 to mean “gender selective mass killing.”

According to UN Women, over the past three generations more than 50 million women have gone missing (to use the light word) due to female feticide, female infanticide, dowry murders and “honor” killings. One type of gendercide is sex-selective abortion—a practice in India where families abort their children if they find out she is to be a girl. While this practice was banned in 1994, it still widely remains. Sex-selective abortion has contributed to the alarmingly low sex ratios in the country. In northern India, more than 120 boys are being born for every 100 girls.

Another contributor to gendercide are dowry related murders. Dowry refers to the money that a bride’s family gives to a groom’s family before a wedding. This act is seen as the last financial burden that the bride’s family will have to pay. Across the country, doctors advertise ultrasound scans with the slogan “Pay 5,000 rupees (110 dollars) today and save 50,000 rupees tomorrow” (the saving represents the cost of a daughter’s future dowry.

My day was filled with interesting, yet horrifying, research, and I left further intrigued to learn more. I have posted some sites below that share more information about the atrocities of gendercide.

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