Status of Girls and Education

By , June 11, 2009 5:19 am

The declining sex ratio together with the fact that the number of girl to boys in the Panchmahals is even lower among the population of 0 to 6 years, at 934 girls to 1000 boys (Census 2001), suggests that there might be a situation of female foeticides in the area. This means that there are medical assisted selective abortions of female fetuses, as a completely unhampered sex ratio will have a slightly higher number of girls than boys. These figures give evidence that girls are continuously viewed as a burden in the area. Furthermore, the women are to a much higher degree illiterate than men in the Panchmahals, only 45 % of the women can read and write, as compared to 77 % of the men (Census 2001). The girls drop out of school at an early age to help their parents work in the field or with domestic tasks. Due to the dowry system it is more worthwhile for the parents to keep the boys at school, as this will generate a higher dowry when it is time for the son to get married. Apart from the dowry aspect, education is generally considered a male domain in society, although this attitude is slowly changing. At present there are not enough schools in the area to keep all the children, and many of the existing schools lack basic facilities such as toilets etc. Many girls choose not to go to school because they have to travel too far. Some also witness that they feel humiliated not being able to have any privacy when going to the toilet, and intimidated by only having male teachers.

Physical Violence and Isolation

By , June 11, 2009 5:18 am

Tribal societies because of their particular characteristics breed a physical isolation. The houses are far apart, sometimes at distances of half kilometer. Busy with getting through their daily workload, women hardly have an opportunity to meet and interact with each other. There exists no legitimate traditional space for women to get together (apart from deaths and marriages). With this physical and social isolation, there exists culture of silence among women, which results in a weak sense of self hood. They never get the chance to discuss their situation and hence never get any input that things can and should change.

Domestic violence is sadly a common phenomenon. Studies show that rural women are more likely to justify that a husband is beating his wife, is he for instance suspects her of being unfaithful; if her natal family does not give expected money, jewelry, or other items; if she shows disrespect for her in-laws; if she goes out without telling him; if she neglects the house or children; or if she does not cook food properly. Women belonging to scheduled tribes, scheduled castes, or other backward classes are more tolerant of wife beating than are women not belonging to any of these groups. Although alcohol is forbidden in Gujarat, male alcoholism is common. Drunkenness often brings violence. Some women may modify their behavior to avoid physical violence by engaging in silent passivity during verbal arguments and complying with unwanted sex. As women try to minimize exposure to violence, their ability to insist on monogamy, negotiate condom use, or refuse sex is limited.

Health and Sexuality

By , June 11, 2009 5:18 am