Pinning a label on 'Killing Eve'

FL670 1lgThere seems to have been a major misunderstanding of my post about veteran religion writer Julia Duin's "Killing Eve" series in The Washington Times about sexism in India, with its main focus centering on gender-selection abortion of unborn females. Some people thought I was attempting to assign a political label to the series. Here is a typical letter:

Terry, your questions about the political bent of these stories concern me. Most stories discussed on this blog seem to be political stories veiled as religious stories. As I have commented elsewhere, it seems that, in the press, at least the NYC/D.C. press, politics trumps religion. Many of us in Flyover Country are tired of everything being politicized.

Do stories on religion not get published if they don't have a political angle? Or the correct political angle?

Posted by Chris Bolinger at 10:33 am on February 27, 2007

Actually, I was worried that the series would be labeled, in part because it is being printed in the Times and it focuses on abortion. I was hoping that many people would be open to reading the series, in part because it truly is about a connection in India, and in China, between modern technology and the ultimate form of sexism -- an attempt to favor males by preventing females from even being born. I was asking, "Is this a liberal issue or a conservative issue?" My point is that the story is so stunning that it shatters the labels.

Meanwhile, the third piece of "The Killing of Eve" package is now online, focusing on the medical networks that allow the illegal practices to go on and on. The falling female birthrate then plugs into the global issue of sexual trafficking and another rare, but real, tragedy in India -- ritual suicide.

Kavita Srivastava, a local lawyer and general secretary for the human rights organization People's Union for Civil Liberties, said it's no surprise so many doctors in Jaipur are guilty.

"The status of women is already low here because of the feudal Rajput culture," she said, referring to the former ruling caste. "There are traditions in Rajasthan of women committing johar which is mass suicide or sati where a widow throws herself onto her husband's funeral pyre. A woman's entire identity was subsumed by her husband. If he died, so must she."

Women who committed sati would have temples built in their honor, she added, and palaces in Rajasthan commonly have a wall displaying the last hand prints women left before they died. ... In Rajasthan's violent desert culture, baby girls were drowned in boiling milk or abandoned in a sand dune. Whole villages went decades without female children.

I'll do a wrap up on Friday after the series is over, to see if there has been any kind of reaction from the usual suspects on these issues. What would silence mean?

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