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Voice Of The 50 Million Missing at The SouthHall Black Sisters’ Meeting

February 23, 2012

We are very pleased to inform you, that in October 2011,  The SouthHall Black Sisters’ Organization in the U.K.   joined The 50 Million Missing Campaign’s ongoing Voice of The Campaign Project to increase public awareness about the ongoing female genocide in India and the issues it involves.  To view the feedback on some of the presentations made at other venues click here.

The SouthHall Black Sister is a U.K. based organization that has been working for more than 30 years to address the issues of violence against women of Asian, African and Caribbean origins in the U.K.  Their website is  www.southallblacksisters.org.uk

The talk based on the materials and the Powerpoint presentation made available by The 50 Million Missing Campaign website was delivered by Pragna Patel, the director of Southall Black Sisters (SBS) to a group of about 30 women, the vast majority of whom are survivors of domestic violence and are immigrants in the U.K. mainly from the Asian subcontinent and some from Africa and the Caribbean.

 Pragna contextualised the situation in India by referring to a recent report which concluded that it was the fourth most dangerous country for women to live in, starting with Afghanistan at the top, followed by Congo, then Pakistan with the fifth being Somalia.

 Many of the women at the talk were familiar with the issues raised and had plenty of anecdotes to share with the group. A lively discussion ensued. There were positive stories about pregnant women taking steps to avoid female infanticide by their inlaws by going home to their parents’ home to deliver the child and reporting to their husbands that the child was born dead; stories about women refusing to marry to avoid getting pregnant and giving birth to girls who will be condemned to the same life of oppression. Every woman had a story showing how widespread the issue is. The corporate sector in India runs campaigns to ‘love your girl child’. But nothing is done in schools, hospitals and families.  The discussion veered towards child brides and dowry and the ways in which this interlocks with consumer culture.

One of the women reported that Roopa’s story reminded her that in her father’s village, all the girls have blonde/orange hair due to lack of nourishment whereas the boys do not. She knows of cases in her family where this has happened.

 There was a discussion about the way in which health authorities deal with the issue of girl children in the UK. Many hospitals do not reveal the sex of the baby to Asian families. However, there are private clinics and some people go abroad. One woman knew of wealthy families who pay £2,000 for sex change of girls under the age of 5 years. The justification for undertaking this operation at such an early age is that the child will not know or have any memory of it.

The discussion ended with a consideration of the ways in which women in the UK could support the campaign. Apart from supporting the petition, Pragna emphasised the ways in which this issue was linked to the work of Southall Black Sisters. It was important for us to challenge inequality, especially for those of us who have girls. The message was that change begins at home. We need to challenge the attitudes or treatment of women around us. We need to raise our voices in our own homes and community, stand up to people with such attitudes and not let it be normalised. It is assumed that it is part of our culture. Indifference is our greatest enemy.

 It is genocide, name it as such.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. emery permalink
    February 23, 2012 10:10 pm

    I’m glad that someone out there had better luck being the voice of the campaign than I did. I downloaded the presentation in November but I still haven’t given it anywhere because no group I’ve contacted is interested. this has given me a new understanding for how little the world understands or cares about this issue. even the Jews who know what it feels like to be eliminated would have nothing to do with me or the campaign. so much for “never again.” still I’m continuing to search for a place to give the presentation.

  2. Mrs Sue Nickson permalink
    August 7, 2012 10:49 am

    This isan unacceptable practice. I will pass on the details to Soroptimist International, an NGO fighting for rights of women and children worldwide.

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