New Delhi: The gruesome assault and alleged gang rape of a 20-year-old Dalit woman in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh on 14 September and her subsequent death have led to widespread outrage across the country. The hurried cremation on the intervening night of 29 and 30 September further fuelled the anger against the Uttar Pradesh Police and the state government, amid claims that no rape took place and counter allegations that the opposition was playing politics over the matter.
We asked our readers: Is ‘Beti Bachao’ merely a slogan that has failed to bring any real change?
Here is what some of them said:
‘Beti Bachao’ just used for propaganda during elections
‘Beti Bachao’ is a slogan that is used as a political propaganda during elections. Within 48 hours of the Hathras woman’s cremation, three rape cases were reported in Uttar Pradesh’s Balrampur, Bulandshahr and Azamgarh. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath formed an SIT (Special Investigation Team) to conduct an in-depth investigation but since an SIT is also a police team, it is not very reliable to investigate its own department. The cremation was a very shameful act by the UP Police. ‘Beti Bachao’ should not be just as a slogan, but should also be implemented properly.
— Prabhat, Ghaziabad. Twitter handle: @Prabhat50855676
Just a quirky slogan to get votes
Yes, ‘Beti Bachao’ was just a slogan because the government started this scheme with the motive of maintaining the ‘gender ratio’. Their ‘Beti Bachao’ campaign was never meant to be about ‘women empowerment’. Like everything else, the government just gave a quirky slogan to get more votes. The government was never strategic about its plan. It did not reform any law for women’s safety and I have never heard our Prime Minister clarify what he really meant by ‘Beti Bachao’. I rest my case with just one question — “Who is preparing the society for these empowered women?”
Pooja Yadav, Hyderabad. Twitter handle: @PoojaY1301
Women don’t need to be saved, men need to educated
Back in 2015, when the ‘Beti Bachao’ slogan was first introduced, it was associated with the issues of female foeticide and infanticide. Five years later, I still believe it needs to be associated with those issues only, which continue to prevail in society.
After the Hatharas case, there have been numerous posts about the failure of ‘Beti Bachao’ ideology. However, I believe women do not need to be saved, we need to be empowered. There need to be stringent laws empowering women with a revision of the pre-existing ones. There is a need for a social revolution, at every slab of society. It is not women who need to be saved, it is men who need to be educated extensively.
Avni Sharma, Chandigarh
Women appear weak and helpless because of such campaigns
The slogan ‘Beti Bachao’ is a failure in itself. Why can’t we say, “Rapist ko maro aur bhagao (Attack and chase away the rapist)”. In this male dominated world, a female is raped every other day. So why make the woman appear weak and helpless by starting projects like ‘Beti Bachao’, why not start a project to teach these men how to behave? And if they can’t, introduce a punishment that the sheer thought of rape or vulgarity will scare their spineless bodies.
Another important thing Indian households need to learn and teach our boys is respect for woman, and this will only happen if the elder members of the household, whether male or female, adhere to this.
Jyot Sanghera, Birmingham, UK. Twitter handle: @jyot312
Women empowerment should be national priority
‘Support the Girl Child’, ‘girls are our future’ — the list of campaigns to empower women is a farce. We need to actually act on them. It is time we acted on issues, not just be vocal about them as political rhetoric.
Despite massive campaigns to bring gender equality, we are often reminded by the society that nothing has really changed, and that ‘boys will be boys’. The ‘Beti Bachao’ slogan has the power to uplift millions of Indian women and girls from the shackles of patriarchy, dominance, illiteracy, financial dependence, sexual abuse and daily struggles. If we control female foeticide and women illiteracy, we can propel India’s growth rate in the international stage. Women empowerment is not specifically a gender issue, but should be a national priority.
Sandeep Wanchoo, Gurgaon. Twitter handle: @swanchoo
‘Beti Bachao’ not merely slogan, it has helped dismantle structures of patriarchy
I was 12 when I learned that there is an inherent practice in our society that women have to keep bearing children until they have a boy. The Economic Survey of 2017-18 succinctly put it in a phrase, ‘son-meta-preference’. Every time my dadi (grandmother) nudged amma (mother) to have another child in the hope of a grandson, I would sneakily put on 2007 film ‘Chak De! India’ and she would uncomfortably start laughing.
While I believe that the clarion call should have come sooner, ‘Beti Bachao’ is not merely a slogan. It might be slightly delusional of me to be saying this in the current context, but I genuinely believe that the current generation has contributed a great deal in shaking the deep-rooted structures of patriarchy. An exhibit of this resolve can be seen in the highest number of female parliamentarians in the 17th Lok Sabha. ‘Beti Bachao’ would however remain just a slogan if it is not followed and supported by de-gendering roles, both within and outside the families. We are not the other sex, the second sex, the anomaly.
Tanvi Vats, Delhi. Twitter handle: @TanviVats6
Campaign needs to be incentivised by government
‘Beti Bachao’ or ‘selfie with daughter’ are good campaigns derived from the ‘nudge behaviour change’ theory. Such campaigns usually have lasting positive change, but at a slow speed. Nudge campaigns usually have some incentives and a compelling reason to change, like the successful Swachh Bharat toilet campaign. To make ‘Beti Bachao’ campaign successful, the government must give incentives that are tangible in nature so that people actively participate in it.
There should be a short course with online assessment — if a participant passes, he (or she) will be eligible for 0.50 per cent rebate in bank loans or any discount coupons.
Mohit Mathur, Hyderabad. Twitter handle: @23mohit
‘Beti Bachao’ not related to rape cases in India
While it is unclear whether any real change has been brought about by the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign, it has nothing to do with rape cases in India. The ‘Beti Bachao’ campaign focuses on saving the girl child and discouraging women to go for female foeticide — abortion of a female foetus.
It is an awareness campaign to improve the child sex ratio in a few Indian states. The rape crimes are a dangerous cocktail of failures in law and order, caste inequalities, and political patronage of criminals. To reduce these crimes, wide-ranging reforms starting with electoral reforms, followed by police reforms, are needed.
Vidyuth Chikoti, San Francisco Bay Area. Twitter handle: @followvidyuth
Men need to change. ‘Betis’ can be themselves
What suppresses women is a cocktail of religious propaganda, societal pressures and everlasting patriarchy. The challenges for a girl child growing up in India are endless. From dealing with ogling eyes of boys and men, to the fear of being judged at every step in her life.
The slogan ‘Beti Bachao’ is completely misplaced and sends out a wrong message. It is men who need to change, the betis can be themselves. Will we be bold enough to have a campaign titled ‘end patriarchy’? A woman’s modesty is not the repository of societal honour. It rather lies in a man’s decency.
— Dr. Swanit Deshpande. Twitter handle: @swanitdeshpande
‘Beti Bachao’ is government’s PR gimmick
‘Beti Bachao’ is yet another PR gimmick by the government in order to portray that it is taking measures to change people’s mindset towards the girl child. This is proven by government data that over 56 per cent funds of the ‘Beti Padhao Beti Bachao’ scheme from 2014-15 to 2018-19 were spent on promotional activities alone.
A meagre amount (less than 25 per cent) was actually distributed for the implementation of the scheme in states. For a scheme that is solely highlighted by the amount of publicity it has gained and not by the reforms it should have led to, ‘Beti Padhao’ sure seems like just a slogan. The exponential increase in crimes against women, such as rape, honour killing and acid attack, shows the failure of ‘Beti Bachao’.
Saumya Vatsa, Jamshedpur. Twitter handle: @SaumyaVatsa6