UP under saffron rule

Worst record of gender injustice -- A crying shame

Uttar Pradesh tops human rights violations in the country


UTTAR PRADESH has the most bleak human rights record with an average of 115 cases of human rights violation being reported daily in the state, according to the latest figures compiled by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

UP, which is yet to act on the Allahabad High Court ruling directing it to set up a state human rights commission, accounted for about 60 per cent of the total cases received by NHRC during 2000-01.

Out of the total number of 71,685 cases considered by NHRC, Uttar Pradesh tops the list with a staggering number of 41,984 cases followed by Bihar and Delhi with 4,895 and 4,081 cases, respectively, the commission’s data said.

Despite various recommendations by NHRC, the irony was that besides having the highest number of human rights violation, the state had failed to perform its social obligation towards the citizens by not establishing the state human rights commission, NHRC sources said.

(Courtesy: Times of India Online Services)

THE STATE has witnessed quite a few of those socalled “social justice” governments. It takes the credit for having had the first, and the only, dalit woman chief minister in the country. Such socio-political churning, sadly enough, seems to have made little difference to women’s lot in the state. In fact, the champion of “social justice”, Mr. Mulayam Singh, hailing from this state, has emerged as the most strident opponent of women’s reservation. In a shameful act of betrayal, the CPI(M) and CPI have reportedly agreed to give up the demand for women’s reservation in the proposed programme for the Jan Morcha (People’s Front), formed with a focus on UP elections. Uttar Pradesh, the crucible for this strange “social justice sans gender equality”, ranks among the top when it comes to crime against women or in terms of social and developmental indicators for women.

The social indicators for women in Uttar Pradesh (UP), even according to official estimates, go to show the highly dismal conditions prevailing for women in the state. According to a national survey released by the Central Social Welfare Board (CSWB), which took into consideration gender-related variables such as sex ratio, literacy rates, child mortality, fertility and work participation, found UP topping the list of the four least women-friendly states in India, with 13 of the 24 most backward districts in the country.

Life expectancy for women in UP is less than 55 years (comparable with 53 years in Saharan Africa!). A girl born in Kerala can expect to live 20 years than if she were born in UP, and the probability that she will die before the age of one is six times more in UP than in Kerala. Among Indian states, UP is second only to Madhya Pradesh in its rate of female infant mortality.

The gender ratio in UP is very poor – merely 879 females for every 1,000 males (1991 census). Again, women in UP are far more burdened with childbearing than women in other parts of India. The rural TFR (Total Fertility Ratio) is 3.67 children per woman in India, whereas it is 5.19 children per woman for UP (1990-92 survey) – a wide difference of three children per woman!

According to the 1991 census, one out of four women in the 7-plus age group in UP was literate. Out of the 76 million population of women in UP, only one-fourth were literate, and the remaining 57 million girls and women above 7 years of age were denied this basic opportunity. According to estimates of 1992-93, only 40% of females as compared to 50% males would complete 8 years of schooling. According to the 1981 census, the crude female literacy rate among scheduled castes in rural UP was below 18% in 18 out of UP’s 56 districts.

In the 1980s, it was estimated that more than two-thirds of all rural girls in the 12-14 age-group in UP never went to school, while the percentage of illiteracy for children in the 10-14 age-group was 61% of rural women in contrast to 32% rural males.

The female illiteracy rate in four of UP’s districts is among the highest in the country – 87.72% in Maharajganj, 89.27% in Bahraich, 87.42% in Gonda, 87.18% in Budaun. The dropout rates of school entrants in 1991 was 65% for girls as compared to 52% for boys, while among SCs and STs, it was 71.3% for girls as compared to 53.5% for boys.

All in all, life for women in UP is an arduous struggle from birth onwards, and they continue to face discrimination in comparison with males, and are denied the most basic rights and opportunities – even that of literacy and basic education and schooling.

-- Kavita Krishnan