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As part of our ground projects initiative, the 50 MM campaign had put a gender survey online for 6 months which ended in May 2009.  This was a pilot survey, and the results will aid in the designing of a more extensive and scientifically designed ground survey project, as well as gender perception workshops for schools, colleges and local communities in India.  The idea is to pin-point the specific elements in the collective thinking and social perceptions that provoke  female genocide in India, and address them through workshops and other ground initiatives in manner that is demonstrably effective.

We thank all respondents who participated in our pilot survey.  There were a total of 1201 respondents.  However only 1193 completed all the questions and those were the only ones whose data was used in the final analysis.  Thanks especially to  Chandni Parekh for help with designing the questionnaire, Simone Borghesi for help with data analysis, and Manvendra Bhangui and Lars-Gunnar Svärd for all the time and effort they put into downloading the data and preparing the tables and charts.

Below is a brief analysis of the data.  This data will be further analyzed and will also include cross cultural comparisons. Click here for the summary and pie charts of the survey results.


1. Which section of society is most gender sensitive?

Since the survey was online and voluntary, and widely circulated through social networking sites like Facebook, it is assumed that those who chose to participate, already had a prior inclination towards or interest in gender related issues.  Thus the survey indicates that women on average may be more gender sensitive than men.  There were 3 women for every 2 men who took the gender survey.  Almost 62% of the respondents were women.  As far as the age groups are concerned, the maximum number of respondents were in the age group of 21-40 years.  Only about 6% of the respondents were below 21 years.  There is also an education correlation, where those with higher degrees seem to show a greater inclination towards gender issues.  About 16% of the respondents had college degrees whereas about 77% had university and or professional degrees.

Analysis: Our data seems to indicate the most gender sensitive section of society might be women, in the age group 21-40, who also have graduate or professional degrees. This and some of the other questions that we need to specifically address in both our next ground survey as well as in our workshops are:
1) Are women in fact more sensitive and or responsive to gender issues than men are?  2) And if so why? What would effectively make men more gender sensitive?  3) Why do the younger generations appear to be disinterested in gender issues — the high school and college age generations in particular?  Has there been a change in perspective of younger females of themselves in a gender context, over the last 2 decades — a feminist backlash perhaps?  Are the gender related experiences of girls in their late teens and women in their early 20s different from that of women in their late 20s, 30s and 40s? Or are girls simply compromising more?  And why? 4) Do higher degrees, say a masters or professional degree make a significant difference to the general perspective and inclination towards gender issues — than say a basic Bachelors degree?  If so, then why? Is it, that individuals with this sensitivity are opting for higher degrees or does the formal education itself contribute something to their perspective?

2. How informed is the public with regards to the female genocide in India?

62% of respondents to the survey estimated that the annual rate of female fetal abortions in India would be 0-10,000 per year, which far less than the actual estimation which is about 1 million a year.  In fact it is estimated that that rate could go up to 2-5 million within the next few years if female feticide is allowed to continue unchecked in India.

Analysis: This result is interesting in that most of these respondents are already predisposed towards gender issues.  Yet despite their ‘awareness’ they are not aware of the actual situation. In that case we can expect the general public to be far less aware and informed on any or all of the concerned issues.  Hence the effort of the workshops and of future campaign projects should be to inform people of the actual situation.  Would the public response change if these issues became better known?  How do we separate ignorance from denial in public response?  And if there is denial why is it there and how can it be dealt with in an effective manner?  These are some of the questions we would address in our formal ground survey as well as in the design of our workshops.

3. How liable are we for the female genocide in choices that we make individually as citizens?

Responding to question 7 of the survey, which said that if the law allowed them to have only 2 children, but also permitted them the use of medical technology to choose the gender of their children, 67% of respondents said they had no gender preference and would happily accept whatever nature bestowed on them.  This was to be expected as the participants are already gender sensitive.  But what was interesting was that at least 25.52% said they would opt for one girl and one boy.  Generally studies show that couples that have had a girl as a first child, would abort the following pregnancies if they continued to conceive girl children, till they conceive a boy.  The reverse, that is aborting boy fetuses, to have a girl as a second child, when the first child is a boy is almost unheard of.  The assumption is that this is neither discriminatory towards girl children nor a problematic issue at large.  However, the gender ratio imbalance in India is caused largely by EXACTLY this choice.  There are of course families that are selecting only for sons.  However for a majority of the cases the problem is that families are choosing to abort the second and third daughters.  The way gender ratio remains balanced in a population, approaching the near 50:50 mark, is only when humans do not meddle with the sex selection process of nature!
Analysis: These are some of the questions we need to test further in our ground survey and incorporate into our workshops.  Do people who select for a boy as second child, when they already have a girl, see themselves as gender impartial?  Do they see themselves as playing a collusive role in the targeted elimination of women in India?  What emotions are involved here in the individual choices made particularly when there are laws against gender detection through ultrasound and sex selected abortions in India? Guilt? Self-righteousness? Willfulness? Greed? Indifference?

4. Are illiteracy and poverty among the underlying causes of female genocide in India?

In response to question 6, which asked where one would observe the largest gender ratio discrepancies in society, about 64% felt that communities where there was more economic hardship, illiteracy or lack or education are the ones that would show the most bias against the girl child.  The fact is that it is among the relatively wealthier sectors of society in India — that one observes the largest gender ratio discrepancy.  That is more in the urban than rural areas. And again, more among the wealthier urban sections.  Some of the lowest ratios in India are in south Delhi — the capital’s wealthiest neighborhoods.
Analysis: The question we need to address in our survey and workshops is, is the wealth factor an incentive or an enabler in female genocide?  In other words do the wealthy do it – and the poorer and illiterate not do it – not because one section is more gender sensitive than the other, but only because it is a question of means and facilities.  The former has it, the latter does not.  In that case would providing formal education to the poorer sections as well as jobs with decent paychecks only enable an increase in the bias against the girl child in this strata instead of checking it? Being wealthy and educated, the people of south Delhi (the region with the lowest gender ratio in India) of course are aware of the of PNDT laws that prohibit sex selected abortions; and they do know right from wrong.  So if education and wealth cannot prevent the people of South Delhi from discarding their daughters en masse, what kind of education would ultimately have an impact on the educated and uneducated to change their bias against girl children? Similarly, where the desire of India’s blossoming economy is to enable the economic betterment of all its people.  Are we to assume that with economic betterment we will now see the poorer sections also “indulging” to a much larger extent in the practice of female feticide, as well as in dowry and dowry murders?

5. Is men’s self-esteem a factor in female genocide?

64% of respondents said that most men who are violent with their wives have a basic problem with self-esteem, and would continue to abuse their wives irrespective of whatever the situation was because the abuse was a coping mechanism.
Analysis: The role of men in the female genocide is critical to change.  So far the emphasis has been on empowering women.  But ultimately the change will come not just with change in women’s perception of  their identity and options, but that of men too.  The questions we need to ask further in our ground survey and workshops is how does the personal self image of men in society pan out in context of women, other men, and gender relationships.  Does the act of violence towards women make men feel more self confident?  Less self-confident?  How is their self-esteem tied in with the choice of their children’s gender?  Are men with sons — more secure and confident individuals than men with daughters? How is masculinity defined in a cultural context in India ?  Has it changed in any way over time and if so how?  How can it be made to change?

6.  Do what extent is there a sense of social responsibility and collective will in the public at large for change in India’s female genocide?

In the last question, # 12, which described a scenario of violent attack on a woman, and asked for audience response, 15% said that they would try to help the victim.  However 61% percent said that they may not help but they would remember and discuss it would someone became it would make them very  angry.

Analysis: One of the problems of female genocide, what engenders it in India at least, is permissiveness.  While 15% say they might help the victim, would the 61% that does not want to get involved but says it will discuss with others, really give it another thought.  Or is this a guilt response?  Do issues like this come up often in personal and social conversations?  Is anger the usual response or passive indifference?  What however is interesting is that where they had the option of choosing — indifference etc. 61% of the respondents chose to say they would be angry and would discuss it with someone.  What this indicates is the potential for change?  Subconsciously the society is aware of the injustice and is also aware of the appropriate response.  The challenge for the 50 Million Missing Campaign, now is to evoke that response.

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49 Responses to “GENDER SURVEY”


I think it would be even more useful, if the data could also be presented graphically, perhaps in the form of pie-charts. :)

congrats to that analysis and campaign!

female genocide is horrific indictment of societys and culktures that allow this it MUST stop

What should have been an appeal to human conscience(Gandhi) is being dealt with by changes in the penal law, rape and dowry laws:woman’s accusations are presumed true with burden of proof on man to prove he is not guilty (absurd).Hence traditional man-woman rift continues and rape and dowry are even on the increase? This should, I suggest be the the subject of a question put to both men and women.
(I have a doctorate in law, a French wife and live in France)

Over 80% of India’s children have been sexually abused according to recent studies. That’s nearly one quarter of Indians population. Clearly there are serious psychological problems with Indian men that need to be addressed. India needs capital punishment for sexual crimes.

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Our posts are copyright protected and we don’t allow people to copy our posts onto their blog. But you can put a small blurb from the post and then put a link directing readers to read it here. thanks :)

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@Johnathon — we do have a copyright policy for people who want to use materials from our blog. Please read it here.

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@Carlos — thank you for your comment. This actually is our static page, and if you would like more information please subscribe to our blog where we make weekly postings — Gender Bytes.

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As long as there are families in this world willing to adopt, there should be no reason for this genocide.
I appreciate all the awareness on this topic but there needs to be more efforts put towards connecting people around this issue. One family’s curse can become another’s blessing.

India already has about 50 million more men than women right now! This has led to a massive increase in a domestic form of sex-trafficking — that is the sale of “bride.” Girls are kidnapped or sold by their families to traffickers who then market them as “brides” to men in who can’t find women to marry. Sometimes a family of 4-5 brothers buys and shares a “wife.” Rape is also the fastest increasing crime in India. So ultimately removing the millions of unwanted baby girls out from India might not be the best solution.

oh my god. otherwise indian population would cross china by this time (2011).
ironically those who killed their gils have a good life because they are able to find good brides.
girls fathers committed suicides with the burden of debt.
this is the fact.

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