The Human Impact

Extreme measures to “protect” daughters in India

Gurpreet Singh is a determined man. But he is an even more concerned father.

The 32-year-old investment adviser is leaving India and migrating to Australia. There is nothing new in that — tens of thousands of professional Indians emigrate every year.

Unlike most of them, Singh’s reason for leaving is not the pursuit of greater economic returns, but a search for something increasingly perceived by parents to be lacking in India — security for their daughters.

It was the gang rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in Delhi last December that jolted Singh, like millions of middle-class urban Indians, and awakened him to the brutalities women and girls face in this largely patriarchal country.

Since then he has been exposed to a torrent of daily news reports of the molestation, abduction and rape of women, and even more worryingly, of young girls, upsetting him so much that he felt he had little option but to fill in the Australian visa forms for himself, his wife and his three-year-old daughter.

“The gang rape in December was a shock for many Indians. It was just so cruel and made me wonder how anyone could do that to a woman,” he explained during a telephone conversation.

Malala: An icon for millions of girls who want to learn

When it happened two months ago, it shocked the world. Masked Taliban gunmen stopped a school bus filled with children in northwestern Pakistan, boarded it and shot 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai in the head and neck as she sat in the bus with her friends.

Her crime? She was a campaigner for the right of girls to go to school — an act strictly forbidden by Taliban militants who are still active in Pakistan’s Swat Valley.

This was her punishment for defying their edicts, the Taliban had said.

Fortunately, Malala survived and her story — as well as her determination to continue to fight for girls to go to school despite the threat of death — has captivated the world and made her into an international icon for girls’ education.

UN education goals off track, progress on gender-report

Afghanistan has overcome the biggest obstacles of any country in its efforts to educate girls, according to a new global education reportreleased on Tuesday by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

In 1999, at a time when the ruling Taliban barred girls from getting an education, fewer than 4 percent of girls were enrolled in school, but by 2010 female enrolment was 79 percent, the UNESCO Education for All (EFA) report said.

Community schools, which make travel distances shorter, are credited with increasing security for girls and pushing up enrolment.

Uganda school children put chill on teacher truancy

A new hard-hitting advocacy video highlights the success of a project at a Uganda primary school where students monitored the attendance rates of their instructors to try and reduce teacher absenteeism.

Uganda has the worst teacher absenteeism rate in the world, according to Anslem Wandega, a program manager at African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), which oversaw the project with funding from the Results for Development Institute (R4D) in Washington, D.C.

Following the success of the monitoring project in Uganda’s Iganga school district, ANPPCAN intends to use the video to persuade other school districts to take up the project, Courtney Heck, a senior program associate in R4D’s Transparency and Accountability Program, said.

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