One village in India is saving girl babies by planting mango trees.
Girls are unwelcome in India, as in many other parts of the world.
In India female infanticide, the killing of baby girls every year is as high as 500,000. Every hour or so a ‘dream marriage’ turns to ashes when a woman is burnt to death over dowry. Dowry death is a regular occurrence in women’s lives in India, although severely punished since 1961, is on the increase. In 2000, there were 6,995 cases. Ten years later in 2010, 8,391 cases were reported.
This documentary film is a contribution in honor of those women immolated by this barbaric tradition, and to a small village in Bihar State called Dharhara. The villagers have found a middle way to deal with this problem, thanks to the unique tradition of planting at least 10 mango trees when a baby girl is born. This practice is setting an example by saving the lives of its daughters, as well as creating a sustainable economy and a benefit for the ecosystem.
We find this topic of great interest and a total challenge for us in terms of shooting and producing in India, but for this same reason worthy to do it. In spite of the difficulties, we have been able to interview politicians, administration officers, as well as locals of Dharhara, the social activist Kiran Bedi and celebrities from Bollywood, in order to show the contrast among the different layers of Indian society about this issue.
We have been shooting for more than a year supported by our own funds, and now we need your help to go into postproduction and finish the project.
If you want to know more about the topic of this film, keep reading!
If not, go to: How we will use your contribution?
THE DIMENSIONS OF THE PROBLEM
Gender ratios and Female infanticide
It is difficult to say what is the exact imbalance of women to men in the Indian population, but a recent study by the Canadian Centre for Global Health Research indicates that in the last three decades 12 million women have been lost by selective abortion. Although the natural male/female rate is 1000/943, and fewer female numbers could be explained by natural causes, female infanticide is a terrible practice very well documented in India. In some rural places, like Bahrana, close to Delhi, there is not more than 378 girls for every 1000 boys born.
Female infanticide is the intentional killing of baby girls due to the preference for males and the lack of value associated with females. The variety of forms it takes are devilish: sex selective abortion, death by starvation by denying breast milk to infants, poisoning, smothering with a wet towel or strangling are some of the practices. The survivors also confront nutritional deficits and lack of health-care in comparison with males.
Despite the attempts to abolish female infanticide, it perseveres, largely due to the challenges of another cultural custom which the girls who survive must confront: the dowry.
Dowry and Dowry Death
In 2010, there were 8,391 reported cases of dowry death in India. The actual cases reach the shocking number of almost one death every hour! Bride-burning is on the increase - just a decade ago, in 2000, there were 6,995 cases.
Dowry death is just one of many types of violence towards women in India. It is the fruit of greed. The grooms family harass the young bride as a consequence of the dowry size, pushing her into suicide or setting her on fire, in what is called a ‘kitchen death’, which often is hidden by being termed ‘accidental’.
Dowry is defined as the property that the bride’s family gives to the groom or groom’s family at the time of marriage. It could be seen as gifts, but while in modern times other cultures have abandoned the practice for a real list of wedding gifts that the couple is hoping to obtain from relatives and friends. In India these gifts are an obligatory payment to the groom’s family in order to counterbalance the value of the groom, which depends on his status, caste and job at the time of marriage.
The curious thing is that in this custom, not only the woman is treated as a commodity, but the groom too, who is put on “auction.”
The transaction of dowry often does not end after marriage, as the bride’s family is expected to continue to give. Families often fear that they are virtually signing a death warrant when they give their daughter in marriage, and yet they continue to do so.
Because dowry is such a terrible pressure on families, it is surprising that a small village has found a creative alternative to deal with this heavy problem.
The Mango’s Girls of Dharhara
On the banks of the river Ganges to its south and the river Kosi to the northeast, lies Dharhara, a green female-friendly village in the heart of Bihar, a state which otherwise is well-known for high occurrence of dowry death.
Here in Dharhara, a tradition of more than 200 years says that every time a baby girl is born, the family must plant at least 10 mango trees to celebrate. This great idea helps to relieve the worries for the future safety and security of their newborn child.
The trees are a source of fixed income, which start producing fruit 4-8 years after planting. From 10 mango and lychee trees, one can earn every season around Rs 200,000 ($3,730) a year. Selling the production of three years in advance provides the money for the wedding.
For generations the villagers have been planting mango trees in one of the states with a high index of dowry death, but nobody can remember a ‘kitchen death’ in Dharhara, where the rate of female/male is 957/1000 while in the whole Bhagalpur district, the gender ratio is 879/1000.
Today the village has more than 100,000 mango and lychee trees. Planting trees has also had a positive impact on the environment, as the state of Bihar needs this extra green cover, which in 2011 was only 6.87% while in 2000 was 17%.
But not only the village is going green, also the economy is flowering. Mango trees are more profitable than traditional farming, and as the money flows into the families, it provides also for the education of the girls. In fact, after girls marry, the orchards will pass to the boy’s family, their brothers or father. In this way, planting mangos has become the base of the whole socio-economic structure in the village.Dharhara is becoming globally known for its unique tradition that, although is not breaking completely free from the dowry system, is serving the most honorable cause of stopping female infanticide and dowry death, educating girls, bringing prosperity to the village and even increasing the green cover. Summing up, making the birth of a girl child a reason for happiness.
How we will use your contribution?
So far the project has been funded with our own money. We stretched our budget to the limit and we managed to complete the shooting. Now we are ready to begin the post-production, and we hope to finish the documentary as soon as possible.
Your contributions will be used to pay for editing costs, technical equipment and personnel. To complete the film properly we would need at least $ 9,000. We can finish the work here in Mumbai, where costs will be a fraction of those in Europe or America. Any amount above this will be very welcomed too, and we will use it in promoting the documentary.
So, all the money raised through Kickstarter will go directly to the costs of making our film (cost of stock, processing, editing, post production, music rights, etc.) and everyone who will contribute with any amount will be credited as “friends of Mango Girls”.
Who are we?
Robert Carr, producer, has been a pioneer since the 1950s in media arts. He co-founded in 1966 the Retina Circus, in San Francisco, the first light-show for theater and concerts ever created. Later he was the production-manager at KEMO Television, which launched many innovative programs, and an Emmy Award Winner for ‘visual effects’ (1970). He also developed an early fascination for India’s rich cultural history and traditions. The idea for this documentary was brought to him by his friend, Kunal Sharma.
Kunal Sharma is a young director from Bhagalpur. He has been living in Mumbai the last ten years working in media. “The story of the Mango Girls appeal is universal and a creative challenge by itself.”For any questions you might have, contact Robert Carr, email@example.com.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
pledged of $9,000 goal
seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful This project reached the deadline without achieving its funding goal on August 31, 2012.
Aug 1, 2012 - Aug 31, 2012 (30 days)
Pledge $10 or more
Thank you so much for your support! We will send you a download of the cover DVD artwork upon release of the film and your name will appear in our social network.Estimated delivery: Mar 2013
Pledge $25 or more
You will receive a film download upon release and your name will appear in our social network page.Estimated delivery: Mar 2013
Pledge $50 or more
You will receive a DVD upon release and a special mention as Sponsor of the film in our social network page.Estimated delivery: Mar 2013
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You will receive the film’s DVD signed by the director and producer upon release and your name will appears in the film’s final credits as Sponsor.Estimated delivery: Mar 2013
Pledge $500 or more
You will receive the film’s DVD signed by the director and producer, plus a t-shirt from the Mango Girl Project and our more sincere thanks and smiles.Estimated delivery: Mar 2013
Pledge $1,000 or more
Wow, we really appreciate your help! Of course, you will get the previous rewards plus your DVD will contain extra material only for you and you will receive a box of mangos from Darhara!Estimated delivery: Mar 2013