The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Unwanted girls getting wanted names

The national average of 914 girls for every 1,000 boys is the worst since India became independent in 1947
(AFP/File, Raveendran)

In Mumbai, over 100 girls will be getting new first names soon. These girls, simply by virtue of being, well, not boys, were named Nakusa by their parents. Nakusa means "unwanted." Because girls are considered more costly and less prestigious than boys, many parents would rather have boys, and as we've written before, the gender ratio in India is becoming dangerously unbalanced.

Satara district health officer Bhagwan Pawar has been one of the driving forces in the area attempting to change the negative attitudes exhibited toward girls. He told AFP that 222 Nakusas have been identified and that "The most probable reason for them being called 'Nakusa' is that they were the second, third or fourth child in that family and the parents wanted a boy."

One of the things Pawar is trying to combat is the social and psychological damage done to these girls. He said, "Many of these girls that we've identified don't want their name. They feel very bad about it, so there is a psychological impact."

Sudha Kankaria is an activist who has worked with renaming the Nakusas, and describes them as "living examples of prejudice." She worries that because of a lack of self-esteem and the discrimination they face the Nakusas will pass these same insecurities onto any daughters they might have. "It's a vicious circle and we should break it. With this project, we are benefiting two people: the Nakusas and the future Nakusas," Kankaria said.

The girls will have their names legally changed, including school documents and official records. They will also be given certificates, signed by Pawar and another local government official.

-Katie Weidmann
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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