India Skeptical of Plan to Help Girls

The government in India has planned an aid package for over two million girls in the country’s poorest families. They say they will give families who make less than $314 a year $14 when a girl is born, and $14-$28 a year for their schooling.

The media suggested that selfish government employees will keep the money from illiterate women, and that more reforms are needed to ensure gender equality. The Indian Express said the financial aid would be helpful only if it was part of a package of “social welfare measures, local education and proper health care.” The Express also said that girls, “even if they survive nine months in their mother’s wombs, make a shaky entrance into the world, sometimes only to be nudged into oblivion by being denied proper food and medicine.”

A recent U.N. report said that around 4,000 women are murdered each year in India because their dowries are not large enough, and that females are often killed at birth. It further stated that women suffer from discriminatory laws and social customs. For example, marital rape is not a crime and the preference for sons in a family is widespread and deep-rooted in Indian culture.


Agence France-Presse - October 21, 1997

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