Via MSNBC, 285 girls have legally changed their names from “Unwanted” to names with a touch more dignity.
In shedding names like “Nakusa” or “Nakushi,” which mean “unwanted” in Hindi, some girls chose to name themselves after Bollywood stars like “Aishwarya” or Hindu goddesses like “Savitri.” Some just wanted traditional names with happier meanings, such as “Vaishali” or “prosperous, beautiful and good.”
The plight of girls in India came to a focus as this year’s census showed the nation’s sex ratio had dropped over the past decade from 927 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6 to 914.
Maharashtra state’s ratio is well below that, with just 883 girls for every 1,000 boys — down from 913 a decade ago. In the district of Satara, it is even lower at 881.
Such ratios are the result of abortions of female fetuses, or just sheer neglect leading to a higher death rate among girls. The problem is so serious in India that hospitals are legally banned from revealing the gender of an unborn fetus in order to prevent sex-selective abortions, though evidence suggests the information gets out.
India’s dowry and arranged marriage systems are significant in that the recipient of the dowry is traditionally the male’s family. Though the practice was outlawed in 1965 due to the absurd expenses and bankruptcies the girls’ families experience, dowries are evidently still expected in rural areas. The gender ratio in India has long been heavily weighted toward men thanks largely to this practice.
This kind of systemic devaluing of human life based only on sex is abhorrent.