Today’s blogpost was suggested by an avid reader of Mercatornet. This reader suggested the topic and even sent in links, which makes my job that much easier. Thank you dear reader!

We have talked before on this blog about the terrible gender imbalance that exists in certain parts of India due to female foeticide and the wilful neglect of girl children (see, for example, here and here).  Many recognise the problem within India and are trying to do something about it.  A recent high profile example is the Bollywood actor Aamir Khan, who is using his reality TV show, Satyameve Jayate, to highlight the issue. 

According to the Hindustan Times, earlier this month Satyameve Jayate reviewed a story of:

“…a sting operation conducted seven years back by two journalists to expose increasing female foeticide cases in four states – Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Following the expose, the Rajasthan government had come down heavily on doctors who were involved in sex determination tests and abortions and started a probe against them. However, the doctors since then have either been promoted or have been cleared of the charges.

Aamir said in his show that he would appeal to the Rajasthan chief minister to get the cases against the doctors clubbed together and tried in a fast track court and appealed to viewers to support his signature campaign.”

Initially, it seemed as if this had gone smoothly with the meeting taking place.  The Rajasthan chief minister even increased rewards for people supplying information about the provision of illegal sex-determinative tests as well as giving an assurance that he “would take up the issue of constituting a fast-track court with the state’s chief justice to expedite the cases pending before various courts”.

However, since then the Rajasthan government has had a change of heart regarding Aamir Khan:

“Rajasthan’s Minister of State for Health Rajkumar Sharma on Tuesday tore into Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan for “sensationalising” female foeticide cases in the state. He insisted that the actor was merely boosting the popularity of his TV show Satyamev Jayate by sensationalising the issue.”

But then, no government likes being told that it is doing the wrong thing by actors.

According to the DNA India, Satyameve Jayate has also given some effective publicity to the Ahmendnagar-based NGO, Snehalaya.  This NGO has done amazing work trying to halt female foeticide:

“Snehalaya has been working for the rescue and rehabilitation of women and children since for the last two decades.

It has been instrumental in curbing female foeticide in Shrigonda and Rahata talukas of Ahmednagar which are among the most affected places.

Intensive tours and awareness programmes were held by Snehalaya in these talukas. It also introduced Jeev Raksha Puraskar for people who informed them about attempts of female foeticide and helped to save a girl child.

They have placed cradles at various places in the district so that people who do not want girl child can leave them in these cradles. Snehalaya, along with the civic body, takes care of the girls.

Women who were harassed for giving birth to a girl are rehabilitated by Snehalaya, which also takes care of the education of the child. 24X7 helpline is run for the purpose.”

Thanks to Satyameve Jayate’s expose and its appeal to its viewers for funds, Snehalaya has been besieged by phonecalls, its website has crashed and more than 3,000 emails were sent to it offering help.  To top it all off, it has received one generous donation of 6.4million Rupees (c. USD 1.2million) to carry on its work. 

Aside from these investigative stories and profiles, Khan has also used music to tug at the heart strings.  Often this can more effective at bringing home to people the human tragedy that is engulfing areas of India.  He invited the musician Swanand Kirkire to perform a song on Satyameve Jayate about the pain of losing a girl child. It can be viewed here.

And the English translation can be seen here.

Pretty moving stuff. May people like Aamir Khan and Swanand Kirkire continue to push this issue and to bring awareness of it to the Indian people.  After all, this will be the way that female “gendercide” is halted. Not through government action only, but through a change of heart and mind set within the affected cultures and communities.

PS If anyone else would like to bring something to my attention as a potential blogpost, you are more than welcome to do so. The easiest way is to email me at marcus.roberts@mercatornet.com. (No pressure of course…)

Marcus Roberts was two years out of law school when he decided that practising law was no longer for him. He therefore went back to university and did his LLM while tutoring. He now teaches contract and...