THE BLOG
04/07/2011 14:00 BST | Updated 03/09/2011 06:12 BST

India: The Trouble With Girls

India is now apparently one of the most dangerous places in the world for women.

India is now apparently one of the most dangerous places in the world for women, which is initially confusing since there are a high number of female figures in politics, including the President, the Head of Congress, the head of the opposition party, and there are also a high proportion of women in charge of large businesses and corporations, so why is India being classed as the fourth most dangerous state for women?

Reported recently, there has been a sharp increase in genitoplasty, an operation which fashions the female sex organs into a penis, with the child also being injected with male hormones. This is a dangerous procedure which is traditionally used for children born with both male and female reproductive organs, yet parents in India are paying up to $2000 for their child to be surgically changed to a gender which they believe is more valuable. There are high risks with this operation, not only physically as it could leave the child impotent and infertile, but also psychologically as the child may suffer from severe mental health issues including depersonalization disorder.

Female foeticide, abortions based on gender of the child being female, is also common place as families fear the cost of weddings and high levels of dowries that they may have to pay. This worrying trend adds to the gender balance issue which has resulted in over 7 million more boys than girls aged under the age of six in the country.

If a girl is born, they then face even more danger, with common stories of girls dying from "natural causes" as their parents do not care for them effectively and in some cases place them in severe risk, with stories of young female babies being wrapped in cold bed sheets out in the cold and then taken to hospital, where they are given medication, yet the parents do not give the child medicine and the child dies, and as such, the death is recorded as "natural causes". This female infanticide is common place among the middle classes, and it is common place for parents to be assisted by doctors and lab technicians to ensure that these deaths are not investigated by authorities.

The risk facing young girls doesn't end there. There is also a high risk of being trafficked, especially in sex trafficking, with money being used for the benefit of the male members of the family, and it is estimated that between 25 to 60 million girls have been victims of trafficking in India. It is also not uncommon for girls to be sold as brides, sometimes for as little as £15.

All of these factors added together can help with understanding why India has been classed as the fourth most dangerous state for women, yet in Afghanistan, Congo, Pakistan (the only three more dangerous states in the world above India) the states are currently in a state of political confusion and unrest and so the suffering of women is at least more easily explained than in India which is apparently a developing democracy.

A country in which, according to Indian Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta , 100 million people, mostly women and girls, are involved in trafficking in one way or another, and where up to 50 million girls are "missing" over the past century due to female infanticide and foeticide, alongside 44.5 % of girls getting married before the age of 18 is undoubtedly dangerous for women, and the political elite appear to be doing nothing about it, despite the leaders of political parties, the government and the Congress also being female.

This problem is growing, and unless it is dealt with through educating people about the importance of having females within society, not only for reproduction reasons, but also for a healthy and balanced state - which India keeps trying to appear to be - then they will struggle to free their country from a devastating issue and will reduce the chances of becoming an effective democracy involved in world politics.