'Gender discrimination in India worse than sub-Saharan Africa'

Last Updated: Sat, Jan 19, 2013 12:40 hrs

Aligarh, Jan 19 (IANS) Discrimination against women in India was higher than even the poorest Sub-Saharan countries in Africa, said noted economist Prabhat Patnaik here Saturday.

There were only 94 women per 100 men in India while in Sub-Saharan Africa, the ratio was 102 women per 100 men, he said at a seminar on 'Women of India: From Repression to Empowerment" at Aligarh Muslim University.

Patnaik put the blame on female foeticide linking it to patriarchal structure of society which brewed injustices against women.

Capitalist development in India neither broke the old community which provided the base for patriarchy and caste system nor created anywhere to the same degree the basis for formation of a new community, said the former Jawaharlal Nehru University professor.

"We have therefore a combination of 'khap panchayats' on the one hand and a substantial lumpen-proletariat on the other," he said.

The notion of women empowerment had been a part of the anti-colonial struggle, which received a setback because of both these phenomena, Patnaik said.

University Vice Chancellor Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah said empowerment of the women could only be brought about by expansion in education, a change in mindsets and execution of harsh punishments.

Shireen Moosvi, director of Advance Centre for Women's Studies at the university, said the nation had awakened, as never before, due to the spate of violence against women to question how far women in India are from equality and empowerment.

She said the urge of coercion had never been more grossly manifested than in the statements that women should not carry mobiles, wear jeans and stir out at night.

One wonders why the same demands were not made on men, from whose ranks the guilty come? she said.

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