“Zero” is a big number and a meaningful one. No, we are not talking about the movie Zero, and not even for the number of zeroes on the right in the amount box for salary cheque. We are talking about zero tolerance for discrimination, or in other words, “Zero Discrimination.”
We’ll talk about the discrimination with women and girl child. And, this happens even before they enter this world. As if others were not enough that we have brought in the problems of “existence,” purely gender-biased, out of sheer inclination towards self-made hypocrisy and unjust thinking. And, as we know nothing supersedes the question mark on life, as everything comes in only if life is kept alive.
Some of the shocking facts reveal that India accounts for the termination of some ten million female fetuses over the past 20 years. So, what were the numbers in these years, and previous to that? A statistical study shows that male to female ratio on the count of 1000 has been varying significantly. Now, we have the figures of 972 females (per 1000 males) in 1901; 964 in 1911; and 955 in 1921 versus 933 in 2001, and 914 (girl child) in 2011 (child sex ratio), tentatively. What’s the difference now? Probably, girls these days are seen less as Goddesses and more as burdens.
Yes, on one hand, we cherish the power of victory of good over evil, knowledge, elegance, motherhood and more, established by our Goddesses.We drown ourselves in the glorious stories of her bravery and the saga of ideal worls. On the other hand, we forget how to offer respect to her human-incarnations. It is difficult to cut the threads of #MeToo incidences; illogical societal limitation; and hypocrisy that get tangled with each other to form a braid of injustice, injustice and injustice.
Dunked in the nectar of prejudice and disparity, gender based discrimination and crimes are re-energized every day and lashed on the girls or females who step out of the house in the late evening; wears clothes that she loves to; decides to choose her better half; or decides to lead her life her way. In worse case, she gets raped, molested or kidnapped; and consequently, she falls prey to slut shaming and throwing taunts and blames on her without having a second look at the culprit.
It is like blaming the people of the house for the robbery occurred at their place even if the victims tried ensuring security, Neither we are taking a strong foot forward not resolving this situation, we are a part of this unjust society, so then what should we call ourselves hypocrites or humans? What right do we have to reject the distasteful adjective, i.e. hypocrite, when our actions aren’t likeable? When the lashes cause blood ooze out of the body and injure the victim, then we take diluted acid of unfair perceptions to dab on her wounds slowly showing sympathy while killing her slowly with the taunts and shaming.
It’s a hilarious sarcasm and an irony that you still don’t get her crime. She is born as a girl. That’s the biggest error of her life. She shouldn’t have been the second creator of life after God. Else, she could have requested God to let her born in a place where females are treated well and equally if she were to really be born as a female, though that place doesn’t exist even in fairy tales. Since she couldn’t do any of this, then she is ought to be punished for it, right?
In 2011, India’s child sex ratio was at 914 girls (1000 boys), which is the lowest since the country’s Independence - with Haryana’s a child sex ratio standing at 834 girls to 1000 boys, and this is far worse than the national average. According to 2001 Census, in Punjab, the sex ratio (zero-six age group) declined from 875 to 793 (-82 points), in Haryana the decrease was from 879 to 820 (-59 points); in Himachal Pradesh this decrease was from 951 to 897 (-54 points); in Gujarat, it was from 928 to 878 (-50 points); in Chandigarh the reduction was from 899 to 845 (-54 points); and in Delhi from 915 to 865 (-50 points).
In case they survive, then the second phase of discrimination takes place, i.e. offering nothing for their survival. Since, she is a female; she is expected to throw her life into a garbage bin if required, for the sake of the boy, who is considered as the future breadwinner and the protector. She is deprived of food, and proper nutrition.
The next phase of discrimination comes, even after they are fed well, when the time comes to decide whether she can be sent to school or not. The current policy of our government of ‘Beti Padhao Beti Bachao’ is a great initiative. On the occasion of International Day of the Girl Child in 2014, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi had called for the eradication of female foeticide. The following year on 22 January 2015, he launched, The Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP) scheme, addressing the issue of the declining child sex ratio image (CSR). It got more highlighted when the Sarpanch of Bibipur-Haryana village, posted a selfie with his daughter on Facebook, with hash tag #SelfieWithDaughter, a few months later.
BBBP scheme, as the name suggests, is about Save and Educate a Girl Child, and when you educate a girl, you are investing in a potential and productive future of the country. Education is the foundation brick of a life. Everyone has right to be educated, but these days, educational institutions are not proving safe for the children.
Another eye-opening study talks that about 300,000 girls going missing (in India) every year, and there is also a growth in the numbers of girls being trafficked for sex work. On 12 December 2002, the Government of India signed the Trafficking Protocol. The infant mortality rate, neo-natal mortality rate, incidence of low birth weight babies, maternal morbidity and mortality, etc. are at disturbing heights when the mother is an adolescent compared if the mother was older than 21 years of age. With these gloomy realities facing us, time and again is adding nothing but frustration to the system of life, country’s governance, and retarded growth of the country and the world. On the occasion of the National Girl Child Day (January 24), the government promoted the campaign, “Stop Sex Selection, Save the Girl Child” with an objective to offer support and new opportunities to the girls and discourage sex selection.
Whenever she is shown sympathy after she is tortured that is only meant to ensure superficially that these poor second sexes get up and pull the gear of their life, dress up like Goddess Saraswati and Durga and join the fancy dress show. On the other hand, the culprits would also make up for their demonic face and try to look angelic. If you have noticed, the thin lines in these explanations say: they must dress like the other goddesses but Kaali. She is meant to look charming, beautiful and graceful, not brave, ferocious and challenging as this may in some or the other way affect the male ego that exists in the patriarchal society in different shades.
This patriarchal society is also the end product of the contributions by females; of those females who distinguish between women who cannot give birth; give birth to a girl child; or give birth to a male child. A woman who brings a baby boy into the world is praised, taken care of and considered as a woman, while others are just bombarded with hatred throughout their life.
Here comes another phase of discrimination. Despite the fact that women are actually buckling up their shoes to walk the path of success in greater numbers than before, yet what holds the growth is that even in a professional environment, they suffer from gender disparity. Questions like, “When are you planning to get married?,” “Are you going to marry within a year?,” “For how long you want to take a pregnancy leave?” and many more. Did you know? A huge ratio of women falls back in their career if/ after they take a sabbatical for the pregnancy and child care period. According to a survey, 16 percent respondents reported about having no women on the board, while 47 percent reported that there are no more than 5 percent women in the senior management roles. The survey also states that 42 percent female respondents have confessed of facing managerial bias, which is known to be prevailing at the senior levels and consequently, it affects the growth of women in the workplace.
Since they’re being discriminated, they are expected to accept the compromising offer. Nepotism is also a silent factor to this, if consider entertainment industry. In this modern and tough world, let’s not solely rely on the old belief, which goes as, “let not the (dreadful) past affect your present.” #MeToo campaign (a movement that topped Instagram’s advocacy hashtags with 1.5 million usage in 2018) has sparked the spirit that is (in a way) trying to assert that let the present and future not be based upon the feel of unjust and harassment, and the guilt of not attempting to be just towards oneself; as living free with respect and leading an ethical or ideal relationship, is every individual’s right.
Women, you are meant to be humble, polite, and suppress all your anger, hopes, desires and dreams within your heart. In case you take up a new avatar of Kaali or Durga Maa, then your integrity and honour will be questioned, the way Tanushree Dutta’s, Kangana Ranaut’s, Rachel White’s were questioned and like many other ladies who underwent the same. Unfortunately, the stature of hypocrisy and defective perceptions are greater than the wisdom. It is even greater than the height scaled by the solidarity of some of us who have vested trust in the systems of humanity and hope. No matter how long your measuring tape is, the word ‘conscience’ (of the rapists or any culprits, and people supporting them) will remain dwarfed. However, we believe in, and revere Goddess Durga, Saraswati, and Lakshmi.
Evils of the society: hypocrisy, prejudices and social stigma, continue to prevail and quite proactively, we talk about education for all. How double standards we are! What is the value of education that doesn’t refrain a person from being blindfolded from the truth and rights, and doesn’t let the educated mind differentiate between good and bad; correct and incorrect; and just and unjust? What is the value of education that ultimately, lands many women in to the pool of #MeToo? We all need to be educated about the real meaning of life; the real essence of equality and justice; and real essence of festivals, gods and goddesses.
On UN website, you will find this mentioned, “on Zero Discrimination Day this year, UNAIDS is highlighting the urgent need to take action against discriminatory laws. In many countries, laws result in people being treated differently, excluded from essential services or being subject to undue restrictions on how they live their lives, simply because of who they are. Such laws are discriminatory—they deny human rights and fundamental freedoms. States have a moral and legal obligation—under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights treaties, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other international obligations—to remove discriminatory laws and to enact laws that protect people from discrimination. Ending discrimination and changing laws are the responsibility of us all. Everyone can play a part in ending discrimination and can try to make a difference, in ways both big and small. The Zero Discrimination Day 2019 campaign challenges people to act against laws that discriminate in their country.”
1st March of every year is observed as the Zero Discrimination Day. We have done enough of 1, 2, 3…. 10…20…50… 100 percent, or even 1000 percent, literally. Let’s start with ZERO now. Zero is the greatest gift of Aryabhatt to humankind, let’s make it more meaningful. Settle zero in your heart and mind for discrimination; tolerance of inequality; gender-based disparity; hypocrisy; self-created hurdles; looking down upon; compromising; and anything that hinders the progress of a woman. This zero will lead the way to hundred, then thousands, millions and billions smiles, blessing and avenues of progress.