The state is hell bent on saving the girl child and educating them these days. The slogan reaching everyone’s ears in the wake of year 2020 is ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ (BBBP) (save the daughters, educate the daughters). The ongoing scenario apparently presents a grim picture of sex-selective abortion, discrimination against girl infants, and a larger form of discrimination to daughters in general. But the question one might be prompted raise is whether or not the starkly dark picture actually represents the reality of Manipur? Of course, it does.
The 2011 census data tells us that there has been a significant drop in child sex ratio in the state with the figure of 934:1000. But does that mean we are secretly murdering our own little girls? The given data may be a cause of concern and may require a detailed survey to find out the underlying factors and reasons behind the decline in child sex ratio. The measure undertaken by the state government in this regard is commendable but the state representatives must not slip into a state of hyperreality created by the issues confronting mainland India. Media theorist Jean Baudrillard had warned about the negative impact of hyperreality on a society where the public can no longer figure out the distinction between what is real and what is a representation.
The grand narrative of issues caused by preference for sons over daughters may be relevant in other states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar or Delhi where the dowry system is prevalent and female foeticide is rampant. But parroting the same narrative as a part of BBBP campaign in Manipur, is inviting the public to walk into a delusion of hyperreality. This may result in making the slogan more or less sound like a marketing gimmick in the end.
Let it be clear for once and all that Manipur is a state where women take a leading role in all spheres of life. Without having to delve into the contributions of Manipuri women in the field arts and culture, sports, historical events like Nupi Lan, the existence of Ima Market in the state or Meira Paibis, the recent annual report released by Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) for the year 2018-19 showed that the Manipur is the top state in women ownership of MSME business in the entire country. While 20 percent of India’s MSME businesses are owned by women, 50 percent of MSME business is owned by women in Manipur. This was announced by the chief minister last year in a press conference.
The data clearly shows the capability of Manipuri women and we can safely presume that birth of a girl child is not considered a curse in a Manipuri household. We also do not murder our daughter-in-laws by burning them in the kitchen because she did not bring enough dowries with her. The given data also goes contrary to public speakers inviting the women sections of the state during International Women’s Day programmes, to come out of the confines of their households and take part in public activities.
However, we cannot deny the fact that crimes against women are increasing in the state. Though Assam is the only state with highest record of crime against women in the entire Northeast as per the recent NCRB report for 2018 that was released this month, there have been several instances of crimes against women committed in Manipur during the last few years. This issue is one aspect of the reality that the state needs to address on a priority basis.
Leader writer – Arambam Lutherwomen safety, Crimes against women, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, girl child, gender dicrimination, Girl child education, dowry