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The Plight of Women in India–and How You Can Help
India often makes news for its efforts to empower women, including it’s rule that 50 percent of leaders in local government must be female; but Amnesty International lists India as the worst place in the G20 for women. The article describes challenges women face at every stage of life. After we look at the challenges women face, we’ll look at group that’s working to empower women—and how you can get involved.
Some of India’s provinces have among the most extreme male-to-female sex ratios in the world. In Mumbai, one of the world’s financial capitals, where only 860 girls are born to every 1000 boys (there are naturally slightly more girls than boys born).
The convergence of discriminatory norms for son preference, the threat of economic ruin for families facing dowry debt, and the accessibility of technology means Indian families are aborting girls right and left. On a global level, the World Bank’s 2012 World Development report estimates that there are nearly 4 million “missing women” each year, more than a third of which is due to son preference and sex-selective abortions.
Child brides are less likely to receive a full education and have skills to support themselves, and severely more likely to die in childbirth as their own bodies are still developing.
Though country rankings for child marriage tend to focus on percentage of child brides of overall population (India is 17th at 44.5% of girls married before 18), research by the International Center for Research on Women emphasizes the importance of looking at the number of child brides and at-risk girls, where India takes the cake due to its huge population and continued prevalence of the practice.
Millions of women and girls are claimed by India’s huge sex trade, either as prostitutes, or sex slaves–India is a destination, source and transit country for sex trafficking. For prostituted women, the threat of violence, infection and social marginalization is acute.
Widows are particularly marginalized. Some traditions cast widows out of their homes and communities, prohibiting them from remarrying and condemning them to live out the rest of their days in mourning. The city of Vrindavan is famous for this; thousands of impoverished widows live in its streets.
Here’s some good news, though. Freeset is making a difference in the lives of women formerly trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade. Freeset teaches them to sew bags and t-shirts and how to read and write, and Freeset provides pension and health care benefits. Freeset allows women to support themselves and their families with dignity. Read stories of the women here. Find out more about Freeset in this video.
Want to get involved? This month Stop Traffick Fashion is having a t-shirt sale. All our shirts are made by women at Freeset, and the more t-shirts Freeset sells, the more women they can empower.
Melissa loves merging her passions for writing and for helping provide restoration for exploited people. She graduated from Miami University with a degree in Adolescent English Education and is a former middle school language arts teacher. She now works full time as an editor. Melissa has visited Freeset in Kolkata, India.
View all posts by: Melissa