Friday, March 29, 2013


"Discrimination: Expectant mothers carrying girls are less likely to give birth in hospital, take iron supplements and receive tetanus immunisation,"
Indian Women Are Victims of Discrimination before They Are Even Born as Baby Boys Get Better Medical Treatment before Birth
By Olivia Williams
The Daily Mail, March 28, 2013
"A survey of more than 30,000 Indians by Michigan State University and University of California has revealed that preferential treatment for men starts before they are even born. Women expecting boys were more likely to get prenatal medical appointments, take iron supplements, and receive vital tetanus shots. They were also more likely to deliver a son in a health-care facility, as opposed to at home. It is even still common practice to have an abortion based on the baby's sex in India, though it is illegal. When baby girls are carried to full term, they still face medical discrimination with serious long-term health consequences. Assistant professor Leah Lakdawala from MSU who carried out the research said: 'This type of discrimination, while not as severe as sex-selective abortion, is very important for children's well-being' Missing out on the Tetanus vaccinations is a particular worry as it is the main cause of newborn deaths in India. Babies whose mothers had not received a tetanus vaccination were more likely to be born underweight or die shortly after birth. The researchers compared the survey to other patriarchal nations such as China, Bangladesh and Pakistan and saw similar evidence of medical discrimination. This could mean that girls are already at a serious disadvantage when they are born. 'We know that children born at higher birth weights go to school for longer periods and have higher wages as adults, so the future implications here are serious,' Lakdawala said.
The study was published in the Journal of Human Resources."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch. Thanks to Jo Jones for bringing this source to my attention.]

Monday, March 11, 2013


"Bodies revealed by the Queiq river's receding waters." (Thomas Rassloff/EPA)
Syria: The Story behind One of the Most Shocking Images of the War
By Martin Chulov
The Guardian, March 11, 2013
"It is already one of the defining images of the Syrian civil war: a line of bodies at neatly spaced intervals lying on a river bed in the heart of Syria’s second city Aleppo. All 110 victims have been shot in the head, their hands bound with plastic ties behind their back. Their brutal execution only became apparent when the winter high waters of the Queiq river, which courses through the no man’s land between the opposition-held east of the city and the regime-held west, subsided in January. It's a picture that raises so many questions: who were these men? How did they die? Why? What does their story tell us about the wretched disintegration of Syria? A Guardian investigation has established a grisly narrative behind the worst -- and most visible -- massacre to have taken place here. All the men were from neighbourhoods in the eastern rebel-held part of Aleppo. Most were men of working age. Many disappeared at regime checkpoints. They may not be the last to be found. Locals have since dropped a grate from a bridge, directly over an eddy in the river. Corpses were still arriving 10 days after the original discovery on January 29, washed downstream by currents flushed by winter rains. Just after dawn on 29 January, a car pulled up outside a school being used as a rebel base in the Aleppo suburb of Bustan al-Qasr with news of the massacre. Since then a painstaking task to identify the victims and establish how they died has been inching forwards. The victims, many without names, were mostly buried within three days -- 48 hours longer than social custom dictates, to allow for their families to claim them. Ever since, relatives have been arriving to identify the dead from photographs taken by the rescuers.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Female Infanticide / India

A Fight to Save Baby Girls in India
By Kamala Thiagarajan
The New York Times, March 7, 2013
"Back in the 1980s, this rural patch of the southern state of Tamil Nadu had the dubious distinction of the worst reputation for 'gendercide,' or murder of unwanted baby girls, in India. There were no official statistics, of course. Just as no one keeps a tally of how middle-class Indians today use scans to determine a baby's sex and whether to abort a female fetus, the child deaths in the Usilampatti region, home to about 85,000 people, were whispered about, not totaled. Often, births were unregistered, conducted by a village midwife who would then also kill unwanted girls. This was done quite openly -- and prompted Valli Annamalai, head of the Mother and Child Welfare Project, an initiative of the Tamil Nadu state branch of the nongovernmental Indian Council for Child Welfare, to act. She started by trying to grasp the size of the problem. Council statistics suggest that, in 1990, there were as many as 200 unaccounted-for infant deaths, all of girls, in this region. 'Girls were considered a burden and a liability in these parts,' she recalled during a recent visit to a council center in the village of Pannaipatti. Raising economic prospects 'was the only way to stop the mindless violence and discrimination.' One way to improve women's lot, she said, was to care for infants and thus allow mothers to return to their work -- mostly toil in the fields of this spottily fertile region, where women have been second-class for centuries.