“A woman attended a workshop for rural women in Haryana, with her 6 month old boy and 3 year old daughter. That night, the boy fell seriously ill. The mother wrung her hands, wailing from one person to another, unable to know what to do. Sometime later, the NGO that had organized the workshop made arrangements for a doctor to visit, and the little boy was saved.” Rasheeda Bhagat paused. “When it was all over, the mother said, I wish this had happened to my daughter.”
The words of the veteran journalist, needless to say, caused more than a stir – for it highlighted the terrible fate of women and girl children in the country, particularly in the states of Haryana, Chandigarh and Gujarat. Such was the mortal fear the mother lived in, that her son was the only guarantee of her ever living a halfway normal life in her husband’s home. It served to throw light on the lives most women still led, despite these emancipated times – and directly connected to a disaster that still rocks the country: female foeticide.
On a warm evening at the Oxford Bookstore met a panel of eminent writers, novelists, journalists and activists to launch and discuss senior journalist Gita Aravamudan’s book, Disappearing Daughters. The book focuses on the tragedy of female foeticide in India. Gita Aravamudan has explored different aspects of female foeticide, its beginnings and its backlash, the ways it grows and how it can be stemmed. The panellists were stalwarts of the current literary and activist scene: Andal Damodaran, Vice President of the Indian Council for Child Welfare, Thilakavathi, additional DGP and acclaimed author, and Rasheeda Bhagat, senior journalist and author.