While more and more Kashmiri women are receiving education and entering the labour force, gender gaps stubbornly persist, particularly with regards to birth rates. The 2011 census shows that Kashmir now accounts for higher rates of female mortality after birth, as the numbers of girls and women die prematurely has increased. There is a decline of sex-ratio in the state, where girls now account for 859 of 1,000 boys in the 0-6 age group, down by 82 points from 10 years ago. India’s gender imbalance has also shown a steep decline, with the lowest figure since independence in 1947, where the national child sex ratio is 914 females to 1,000 males. The majority of the population in Kashmir follows Islam, which condemns infanticide. It is believed that female infanticide was common in pre-Islamic Arabia, however, by the time of holy messenger Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the revelation of the Qur'an, female infanticide was strictly forbidden, and regarded as adult murder. Many sociologists in the valley are of the view that gender inequality has its roots in the patriarchal system which is still prevalent in the state. They also argue that the misuse of modern technology had pushed more and more people to follow the illegal practices of female foeticide. Medical technology contributes greatly in this practice, which has increased rampant in private hospitals and clinics. More than 100 ultrasound clinics have been sealed in the valley and strong action has been taken against various centres in different districts that submit incomplete forms, which are mandatory to be filled by pregnant women visiting the clinic. Any clinic which is not registered and has not submitted the mandatory form has been shut down and others are in the process of being raided. Women’s rights activists and doctors say that the disproportionate mortality of girls generally begins during infancy, when they are killed even before they acquire the age of feasibility in mother’s womb. The discrimination factor is greatly responsible, as married women face pressure to produce male children. While girls are seen as a financial burden, requiring significant dowries, men are viewed as breadwinners, who will support their parents into old age. In a rapidly modernizing society, increasingly families choose to have fewer children, and some believe they are better off having no children then a girl. In addition, the lack of consequences for those illegal running abortion clinics is also a contributing factor. The increased incidence of rape in the region has also contributed to the increase in the usage of these clinics, where some can see the sex of their fetus, and can then elect to abort if they are going to have a girl. Sources at the Health Department say that the state government has failed to implement the Jammu & Kashmir Preconception and Prenatal Sex Selection (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, which came into effect in Kashmir only in 2006, and allows for ultra-sonography to identify the sex of the fetus. Clinics have recognized that they can earn more money by offering sex-selection tests. As per the law it is illegal to get the sex-selection done. The government has failed to execute this law in true letter and spirit. The Health Department has taken some steps in ending this practice; an awareness campaign has been implemented, and a number of unauthorised pre-natal sex determination clinics have been shut down. This was initiated after the Census Department reported the decline in sex ratio. However, it is still disturbing so see that having a girl child is considered a burden. Gender inequality of all types must be addressed for this practice to stop. And society must realise that gender equality is not just a women’s issue - a sense of responsibility, moral values, and religious education must be inculcated in our sons and daughters, where all can respect the opposite sex to create a safe and dignified environment for both men and women, girls and boys. Everyone, including the government, educators, community groups and civil society organizations must be involved in ending discrimination and claiming rights. But we, as individuals, must come forward and be the agents of change, by welcoming and celebrating the birth of both our daughters and sons.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous new media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future 2012 Assignments: Op-Eds.


Dear Aliyah, I am deeply touched by this story.It is difficult to understand why being female is such a big problem in almost every part of the world.Your story is touching and strong.It is an indicator to the fact that women are endangered species even before birth.Thank you for sharing this story. Leina

"I don`t just want to tell stories,I want to change stories"

Chi Yvonne Leina

My dear Leina, you have rightly said that they are endangered species. The story is I think the same everywhere, even more worse. But, we as a womenfolk need to be each other's power and courage. By making our niche, we should prove ourselves that we are not burden but the most beautiful and sensible creations created by God. Mashallah. Thank you for your kind words. Stay Blessed.

Aliya Bashir

Dear Aliyah,

Thanks for this beautiful article which tells us of the not-so beautiful trend today. Your story moved me to think about all those women who could have been....had they only got a chance to live, and who knows who they would have been??Women are special individuals.

The gender ratio is alarming and I am certain, if not checked we can expect a steep rise in crime against women as known from the past.

Kudos to you and your initiative to address this issue:)

Love Urmila Chanam, Bangalore, India

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

The issue is really sensitive Urmi. But, on the flip-side it should help us to sensitize the people at large, especially our counter-part that girls have time and again proved their mettle both at household chores as well as in the career. And if just for the dowry, materialism and other social and cultural trend, she is been taken as burden, then the problem s with social moores not with Her. Let us change the psyche of all those people who take her as a liability by our consistent efforts and compassionate love. Stay Safe

Aliya Bashir

Dear Aliya

Sex determination is illegal and still continues to happen, because the mindset remains unchanged where a girl is still seen as a burden. In our part of the world, its that much-cliched 'khandaan'/ family tree that often pushes a family to go for a boy. You know in Hyderabad, there were many Muslim families that once got their minor daughters married to Arab sheikhs. Since they could be exchanged, the 'girl' commodity was then allowed to be born. Then the law started curbing the practice and female foeticide increased because now families started to view the girl children as totally worthless. Anyway, changes are coming slowly. The important thing is, we keep talking, until the issue is completely over. And you have done just that. Hugs!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Dear Stella, i totally agree with your viewpoint and the harsh experiences at Hyderabad. We have to change the mindset of all those who seen female as worthless. We all have to do our part and then definitely Inshallah change will come and then we will taste that happiness. Thank you for bringing in the important perspective of your place. Hugs

Aliya Bashir

If girls did not grow up to be mothers, who would have given birth to those who are discriminating against females through sex selection or son preference. How could we have sons without females? The girls grow up to be mothers and that is why we are all here. Thanks Aliya


Dear Amie, It is so great you talked about the most logical things that we at times dn't pay heed to. But how irrational is that by the way! We should let others to think on these lines and change the most unfortunate mindset of discrimination against girls.

Aliya Bashir

Thank you Aliya for this piece. From the health professional view determination of sex lies between both men and women.

However in this instance It all lies with the men, he is the determinant of the sex of the child as long as the men will donate X OR Y chromosome in their genetical make up.In the event he donates an X ,the child remains a girl,if Y the child remains a boy.This may never be the same always.The woman controls which sperms to be utilized for conception,and if the X Chromosomes persists to be donated by the man then that means babies born out of that couple will be girls.

The way froward here is for the men and women to be empowered through health education on what they posses. And the government to direct energy into family life education so that the society starts having a mind set that all sexes are needed.

Lucia Buyanza -Clinical Instructor

Dear Lucia, Its great that you explained the detailed process about baby boys and girls. I agree the empowerment tool by educating them to change their mindset is much needed. Am looking forward to your help in the possible way. Cheers my sister.

Aliya Bashir

Thank you, Aliya, for writing about this tragic issue in such a powerful manner.

I was thoroughly absorbed in every single word of this piece, and your optimistic conclusion made me want to take a stand and make sure change is effected regarding this issue in Kashmir.

I love your writing. Keep writing stories like this, and great things will happen in your country. Great work, Aliya.

Best, Valerie

Dear Valerie, I am touched that you stand by now me, my job is done. Thanx dear. Kashmir needs sisters like you for a big positive change with such a fabulous optimism. Thanx sister.

Aliya Bashir

Dear Mam, it would have truly not possible to put the story before my sisters and WP community without your mentorship and encouragement. Thanx a lot. I will try my best to bring such stories on the forefront Inshallah.

Aliya Bashir

The more of our stories, I read, the more my heart breaks, blood boils, and then.... I breathe, and remember that we and countless others are working to make the difference.

Truly the key is in placing value on the lives of women and girls more broadly. Societies and cultures much shift to understand our value, and unique gifts that we bring to the world.

Thanks for sharing. Mari

Mari, the more we come up with our stories, the more energy, determination and will to change the bias and other discrimination among girls will transcend among us. We really are born with unique gifts and potentials which should be encouraged and not discouraged. And am sure sisy we will do that Inshallah. Stay in Touch

Aliya Bashir

Aliya- you are right, indeed!! :)

I was just venting for a second!

We are very privileged in that we actually have the opportunity to help make the difference.

Your voice is an important tool in carving out the path forward.

Be well, Mari

Dear Mari, as u said we are privileged that we have the opportunities to share our views, we are overall privileged for having so unique potentials over men, which we need to identify. We have to fight for our rights of survival and get our voices heard.

Aliya Bashir

Your OpEd peice is touching. Thx. Voices like yours will change peoples thinking about a woman, just keep your voice loud. I am with you Aliya

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."

Dear Grace, Thanx dear for encouraging me and all those who have suffered in any form. We will collectively change the thinking of all those who look down at women. Let shout out this loud. Stay safe

Aliya Bashir

Dear Aliya, Your piece is shocking! Especially about the fact the health care professionals will destroy girl infants when their profession is about saving and nurturing life. You have done a good job of presenting facts and information that supports your position and that no one could read without being outraged at what is occuring. And even though a few minor things are being done and some laws have changed the general patriarchal cultures, as you say, make it very difficult to change these trends. However, I think articles like yours can help do that! Thank you so much. Nancy Cosgriff

Nancy Cosgriff

Dear Nancy, I am thankful for all my sisters and readers like you who have stood by me and supported the cause to raise their voice against such inhuman acts/ who are sympathetic to these victims. It is hurtful in the sense that a scare element is creating ripples in the sensitive minds of women who are now even scared of the professionals,as u rightly said whose job is to save life. It is unfortunately sheer tragedy. Moreover, I truly agree and hope that our writings would definitely Inshallah bring a big change and help to address such issues, if we cannot change the past, we can actually help the future breed by proper education and awareness on the issue. Stay in touch.

Aliya Bashir

Dear Aliya, Thank you for this informative and compelling op-ed. I hope that all people begin to open their eyes and accept and love all kinds of people, and that the government puts force behind human rights protections. This is such a sad issue, with wide and long-term consequences. Thank you for shedding light on them in your part of the world!

Thank You Breese for all the wonderful words. I hope that your all wishes may come true Inshallah. We are also expecting a global change wherein all such sensitive and heart-wrenching issues are addressed without any further delay. Lets hope all these violations are stopped by those who claim to be the saviors of human kind. Stay Safe

Aliya Bashir

Aliya, Great work on this op-ed. It's a tragic pattern that we see so many "missing girls" around the world. The preference for boys seems so sad. I mean, boys are good too...but, girls can grow up to be presidents, scientists, poets, and anything they want, even MOTHERS! It's heart-breaking to think that a mother would be put in the position of deciding that she didn't want to have a little girl that looked like her.

I know your work at making this issue more well known and understood is making an impact. And, I hope that the government in India continues to take steps to enforce the laws protecting unborn girls. In the end, we've all got to start valuing girls and women more... everywhere, everyday, in every way.

Thanks again, Scott

Scott Beck

The more I read or hear about stories like this, it makes me wonder if the people who prefer boys above girls ever stop to think and ask themselves what life would be like if everyone also share similar preference.

If mothers the world over have baby boys only, how do they expect to secure human existence. For the women who opt to abort their female foetus, have they ever stopped to think what would have been, had their own mothers aborted them. For the men too, who price boys above girls, do they realize they never would have lived to make such callous choice(s);had their own mothers been aborted. I just can't help wondering.

You nailed it all, by emphasizing on the importance of gender equality in a spheres of life.

All the best!

My dear Olanike I truly agree with your all thoughts and concerns, but unfortunately this is the hard core reality and we are just helpless unless women folk at large don't understand their own concerns and try to come out of this bias. And, if she is strong to proudly make it sure than women are special in their own forms and not a burden, then men won't be able to braek here. So the change should start within us. Stay Safe my sister

Aliya Bashir