Hindus and Hinduism
Two concerns in Hinduism:
|Brahmins (the priests and academics)|
|Kshatriyas (rulers, military)|
|Vaishyas (farmers, landlords, and merchants)|
|Sudras (peasants, servants, and workers in non-polluting jobs).|
The Dalit were outcasts who are not even considered to be part of the caste system. Until the late 1980's they were called Harijan (children of God). They worked in what are considered polluting jobs. They were untouchable by the four castes. In some areas of the country, even a contact with their shadow by a member of the Varnas was considered polluting.
Practicing untouchability or discriminating against a person because of their caste is now illegal. The caste system has lost much of its power in urban areas; however the tradition has been preserved largely unchanged in some rural districts. The government has instituted positive discrimination in order to help the Dalit and lower castes.
Many Dalit have converted to Buddhism, Christianity, and other religions in recent years. This has often been motivated by a desire to escape the caste system. On 2001-NOV-4, one million low-caste Dalits were scheduled to meet in Delhi, India, for a mass conversion to Buddhism. According to Gospel for Asia, Dalits feel that: "The only way for our people to find freedom from 3,000 years of slavery is to quit Hinduism and Castism and embrace another faith." Mass conversions to Christianity have also occurred. 3 This has generated massive anger and even instances of violence and murder directed at proselytizing religions by some Hindus.
The status of women is typically discussed on a nation-wide basis. However, about 80% of the citizens of India are Hindu, 14% are Muslim and 6% are of other religions or no religion. Most of the negative behavior towards girls and women across the country can probably be safely attributed to the practices of Hindus.
Infanticide has been widespread in India for centuries. R.J. Rummel reported:
"In India, for example, because of Hindu beliefs and the rigid caste system, young girls were murdered as a matter of course. When demographic statistics were first collected in the nineteenth century, it was discovered that in "some villages, no girl babies were found at all; in a total of thirty others, there were 343 boys to 54 girls. ... [I]n Bombay, the number of girls alive in 1834 was 603." 4
A Reuters article in 2007-JUL reported on the high level in India of:
|Female feticide: This is the practice of using ultrasound instruments to determine the sex of a fetus, in order to abort fetuses that are found to be female.|
|Infanticide: This involves the actual murder of a newborn female, typically because of her gender.|
|Widespread neglect of girl children.|
|Mob violence, including murders, victimizing women believed to be evil sorcerers. 5|
The Gendercide web site reports:
"A study of Tamil Nadu by the Community Service Guild of Madras ... found that 'female infanticide is rampant' in the state, though only among Hindu (rather than Moslem or Christian) families. 'Of the 1,250 families covered by the study, 740 had only one girl child and 249 agreed directly that they had done away with the unwanted girl child. More than 213 of the families had more than one male child whereas half the respondents had only one daughter." 4,6
"Most strikingly, according to UNICEF, 'A report from Bombay in 1984 on abortions after prenatal sex determination stated that 7,999 out of 8,000 of the aborted fetuses were females. Sex determination has become a lucrative business'." 4,7
Using ultrasound techniques to determine the sex of a fetus with the intent of aborting it if it is female is illegal in India. However, the law is widely ignored because local officials are reluctant to fight the will of the people. 8
Reuters reports that:
"Around 10 million girls have been killed by their parents over the last 20 years, the government says, as female infanticide and foeticide, although illegal, are still prevalent with boys preferred to girls as breadwinners." 5
Data on infanticide is quite unreliable. However, if we assume that the 10 million deaths is an accurate estimate and that the cases involved 98% feticide and 2% infanticide, then the three most serious instances of genocide over the past two decades may have been:
|The Rwandan genocide of about 800,000 persons based on tribal identity, and|
|The religiously-based genocide of about 200,000 in Bosnia Herzegovina, involving mainly Serbian Orthodox Christians targeting Muslims, and|
|The murder of 200,000 newborn girls in India.|
"Domestic violence and sexual abuse involving young girls is reported frequently in the country and a 2006 government survey found that 45 percent of girls were married before the legal marriageable age of 18."
"India's adult female literacy rate was 47.8%, compared to the adult male rate of 73.4 percent in 2004."
"The sex ratio in the country is still one of the world's lowest, with an average of 933 females recorded for every 1,000 males in the 2001 census."
" 'Education of girls even in big cities was dismal and census figures show that the population of the girl child was dropping,' said Chakraverti, adding that tough laws and education of parents were needed to force change. 'Most cannot complete primary education'." 5
Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, mentioned above, is a Wiccan and social activist. She has been nominated by the government's National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) to head a panel given the task of improving the status of young girls. 5
For more information, we recommend that you Google India infanticide, or India feticide, or India status women
Copyright © 2007 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Original posting: 2007-OCT-07
Latest update: 2010-FEB-20
Author: B.A. Robinson