ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Culture, Gender Bias and Beliefs Surrounding the 'Nakusa' Girls of Maharashtra

In rural Maharashtra, many parents have named their daughters "Nakusa/Nakoshi." In Marathi that means "unwanted." The parents hope the next child will be a boy. Most of these girls are the third or fourth daughters of their parents and their names have caused them socio-psychological problems. A study of such families in the villages of Satara District forms the basis of this article.

We are thankful to the faculty and students of Yashwantrao Chavan School of Social Work, Satara, for assistance in the fieldwork. The discussions with district and ZP officials, NGOs, activists and local leaders were extremely useful. Thanks are also due to Alice W Clark and the anonymous reviewer for useful suggestions. An earlier version of this article was presented at the Annual Conference of the Population Association of America at San Diego, California in April 2015.

Discrimination against the girl child in India is an existing reality and it reflects serious sex-based differences, inequalities and neglect. The complex interplay of culture and socio-economic factors combines to deprive the girl child in many ways. Parental attitudes toward children are shaped by the culture of the community, which leads to different kinds of treatment based on their sex (Miller 1981). In India, the general perception about the low value of the girl child in comparison to her male counterpart is reflected clearly in a Tamil proverb, “Having a daughter is like watering a flower in the neighbour’s garden” (Sekher and Hatti 2010a).

Background of the Study

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