63m women, girls missing due to India’s preference for boys

Indian women’s cricket team captain Mithali Raj (L) along with the employees of South Central Railways take part in a rally on the eve of the United Nations (UN) International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Hyderabad on November 24, 2017. The theme of the campaign for 2017 is “Leave no one behind: end violence against women and girls.” (Noah Seelam / AFP)
Updated 30 January 2018

63m women, girls missing due to India’s preference for boys

NEW DELHI: A deeply felt preference for boys has left more than 63 million women statistically “missing” across India, and more than 21 million girls unwanted by their families, government officials say.
The skewed ratio of men to women is largely the result of sex-selective abortions, better nutrition and medical care for boys, according to the government’s annual economic survey, which was released on Monday. In addition, the survey found that “families where a son is born are more likely to stop having children than families where a girl is born.”
Sex-selective abortions are illegal in India — and doctors are forbidden from even revealing the gender of a fetus — but it is easy to find radiologists willing to break the rules. The combination of long-held cultural beliefs and financial realities mean that millions of Indian families dread having daughters.
The birth of a son is often a cause for celebration and family pride, while the birth of a daughter can be a time of embarrassment and even mourning as parents look toward the immense debts they will need to take on to pay for marriage dowries. Studies have long shown that Indian girls are less educated than boys, have poorer nutrition and get less medical attention. Many women — including educated, wealthy women — say they face intense pressure, most often from mothers-in-law, to have sons.
By analyzing birth rates and the gender of last-born children, the report also estimated that more than 21 million Indian girls are not wanted by their families.
“The challenge of gender is long-standing, probably going back millennia,” wrote the report’s author, chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian, noting that India must “confront the societal preference for boys.”
The report also noted that increasing wealth does not mean an end to male preferences among families, with some comparatively wealthy areas, including New Delhi, faring worse over the years.
Many of the best scores for women’s development, the report noted, were in India’s northeast — “a model for the rest of the country” — a cluster of states that hang off the country’s edge where most people are ethnically closer to China and Myanmar, and where some people do not even see themselves as Indian.


Afghan security forces confirm killing of top Al-Qaeda leader

Updated 26 October 2020

Afghan security forces confirm killing of top Al-Qaeda leader

  • Egyptian national Abu Muhsin Al-Masri was on the US most wanted terrorists list
  • Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) said he was killed in a special operation in Ghazni province

KABUL: Afghan security forces have confirmed the killing of a senior Al-Qaeda leader in Ghazni province, eastern Afghanistan, prompting the country's president to accuse the Taliban of having links with the terrorist network.

Egyptian national Abu Muhsin Al-Masri, alias Husam Abd-al-Ra’uf, was on the US list of most wanted terrorists. The US issued a warrant for his arrest in December 2018.

Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) in a tweet late on Saturday said that Al-Masri was killed “in a special national security operation.”

Following the announcement, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accused the Taliban of having links with the terrorist group.

"The killing of this significant leader of Al-Qaeda's terroristic network proves that there is still the threat of terrorism and Taliban have ties with terrorists," he said on Sunday afternoon.

According to NDS sources in Kabul and Ghazni, he was one of the most senior leaders of Al-Qaeda.

“Al-Masri was one of the most senior Al-Qaeda authorities and was a financial and logistical facilitator of the network and had meaningful ties with Taliban,” the source in Kabul said on condition of anonymity.

He added that an Afghan affiliate of Al-Masri was arrested during the raid.

An NDS officer in Ghazni said that Al-Masri was killed in Andar district, where scores of foreign militants have settled in recent years and have been “protected by the Taliban.”

The Taliban deny the claim.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Arab News that Al-Qaeda has had “no ties with the Taliban” since the historic US-Taliban peace accord in late February. In accordance with the deal, the Taliban pledged to sever ties with foreign militants and deter them from using territories under the group’s control.

The US invaded Afghanistan and in late 2001 ousted the Taliban government, which refused to hand over Al-Qaeda leaders accused of being behind the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 that killed 3,000 Americans.

The terrorist network has been decimated over the years, but US officials believe its fighters are still operating in Afghanistan and some have deep ties with the Taliban.

Al-Masri’s reported killing comes a year after the NDS announced that in a joint raid with US troops it had killed Asim Omar, the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent. Omar was reportedly killed in southern Helmand province — a Taliban stronghold.

A former Afghan spy master, Rahumatullah Nabil, in a tweet said that Al-Masri and some other members of Al-Qaeda were frequently traveling between Ghazni and other parts of Afghanistan and a tribal region in Pakistan’s north in recent months.

The head of the US National Counter-Terrorism Center, Chris Miller, confirmed Al-Masri’s death in a statement, saying that his “removal” was “a major setback to a terrorist organization that is consistently experiencing strategic losses facilitated by the United States and its partners.”

According to Afghan analysts, however, a replacement for Al-Masri will soon be found within the terrorist group’s ranks.

“The killing will have some impact on the network’s activities and the war in Afghanistan, but not a drastic one as new leaders will jump up to fill the gap,” security analyst Ahmad Saeedi told Arab News.

The development comes as an uptick in deadly violence has been observed in Afghanistan despite ongoing talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar to yield a lasting peace and end decades of conflict in the war-torn country. 

At least 20 people were killed at an educational center Kabul on Saturday, hours after a roadside bomb killed nine civilians east of Kabul. Officials blamed the Taliban for the roadside attack.