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Girl power takes center stage in India

International Day of the Girl marked by performances addressing female feticide and domestic violence

Girl power takes center stage in India

Students from Kamla Nehru College at the University of Delhi give a musical performance on girl empowerment on the International Day of the Girl on Oct. 11. (Photo by Bijay Kumar Minj/ucanews)

Rights groups and activists in Indian capital New Delhi organized a street play and concert to sensitize people about atrocities against women on the International Day of the Girl.

The Oct. 11 event also emphasized the urgent need to stop the rampant practice of sex-selective abortions in India.

The program at Dilli Haat included a street play by Asmita Theatre Group titled “Dastak Dilli” (Awakening Delhi) about issues such as female feticide and domestic violence, while University of Delhi students gave a musical performance on girl empowerment.

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is a network of lawyers seeking to arrest the practice of female feticide through its Vanishing Girls campaign.

Campaign coordinator Anushree Bernard told ucanews that the Ministry of Women and Child Development’s Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (Save girls, educate girls) campaign had led to a noteworthy improvement in the child gender ratio in certain regions.

According to Oxfam, 17 percent of women in both the formal and informal sectors have faced sexual harassment at work in India.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, Indian police reported a 2.9 percent increase in crimes against women in 2016 over 2015. Major crimes were cruelty by a husband or his relatives, assaults with intent to outrage modesty, kidnapping and abduction.

Rape cases also increased 12.4 percent from 34,651 in 2015 to 38,947 in 2016. The figures show that an average of 39 crimes against women are reported every hour in India, up from 21 in 2007.

The federal data, collected from police and court records, show that the conviction rate for crimes against women has been around 18 percent, one of the poorest, affirming the fears of rights activists.

Balakrishanan, a lawyer associated with the ADF, said: “People now don’t get shocked by the news of female feticide. It is growing fast in India, which is a very alarming sign, and there is a rape case every 25 minutes in India, but only one out of 10 cases gets reported.

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“Female feticide is a sin but it is a practice in our society where many parents want a boy child. It is a very sad thing to happen in our country.”

Asmita Theatre Group writer and producer Arvind Gaur said India’s patriarchal system had led to “a lot of suppression of women and there can be no place for this kind of system in any civilized society.”

He said the inequality includes areas such as access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, protection from discrimination, violence against women and child marriages.

United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres had a message to mark the International Day of the Girl.

"We need to uphold equal rights, the voices and influence of girls in our families, communities and nations. Girls can be powerful agents of change, and nothing should keep them from participating fully in all areas of life," he said.

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