A horrific act in India in 2012 had a profound effect on Naperville resident Kuldeep Sra.
“There was a gang rape in Delhi in the running bus and shook the whole India, not only India that was on CNN and all over,” said Sra. “I was there at that time, I was there visiting and I felt how people feel helpless in this crime rate.”
The event caused him to reexamine the value his native country puts on females.
In Indian culture parents feel pressure to produce male children. Per tradition, a woman’s family must come up with a dowry for her to be married off and due to inflation, gifts are becoming expensive.
Driven by economic concerns, many families seek an illegal abortion if their ultrasound shows a female baby, a practice known as female feticide.
Although abortions are legal in India, those based on gender are not, but that doesn’t stop families from getting them illegally.
The problem has garnered international attention and is being referred to as a form of genocide.
“This is a serious violation of human rights,” said Sra. “We are short 100 million women in India.”
The staggering numbers inspired Sra to start a non-profit to help end the deadly cycle, which is how Dheean Poukardian, meaning ‘daughter’s outcry,’ was born.
The group currently sponsors 32 Indian high school girls with educational funding every month, many of whom don’t have supportive male figures in their lives.
“We send them 500 Indian Rupees a month,” explained Sra. “It isn’t a lot but it’s the first time that they’ve felt that they are being favored over the boys. And that gives them a lot of confidence and self-respect, which they lack otherwise.”
Sra travels to India and visits with principals and teachers who recommend candidates, who are then asked to write an essay on female feticide. Those chosen are then sponsored throughout high school.
The organization hopes that by giving the girls knowledge and strength they will be able to say no to societal pressures when they become pregnant, becoming a voice for those who might have been silenced.
In February, Sra will travel back to India and hopes to sponsor an additional 20 girls.
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