Elevate Difference

No Country for Young Girls

No Country for Young Girls is a twenty-five minute question posed to India: "How can this country move forward while there is still profound gender discrimination against females?"

Director Nupur Basu introduces twenty-seven-year-old Vyjanthi, a mother of a three-year-old daughter. When she becomes pregnant with another girl, her husband and in-laws pressure her to an abortion. She flees to her parents’ house to weigh her options. Should she leave her husband and raise her daughters on her own? Or should she go back to her husband and accept that India is not a country fit for a mother to raise daughters?

Vyjanthi begins a journey to explore her country, its cultural and religious history, and what other Indian women who live in different regions of India have to say about her dilemma.

No Country for Young Girls is a startling contemporary view of the oldest prejudice in existence: boys more valued and valuable than girls. While sex-selective abortion is illegal in India, the numbers do not lie. In some regions of the country, there are a far greater number of boys than girls being born. The prevalent practice of selective abortion is leading to an imbalance of boys and girls living in India and, many predict, is heading for an unknown but monumental crisis. Girls’ worth is measured in the form of dowries, and infanticide reinforces that gender discrimination is still very much alive in all parts of India.

Vyjanthi takes her story of in-law harassment and unfairness to strangers in faraway corners of her country and finds she is not alone. She meets women in high executive positions, other mothers, regular citizens in discos and informal meetings. All of them raise different points, but all of them agree that India is still outdated in their thinking about gender. No Country for Young Girls asks many important questions, almost too many for such a brief film, that have no resolution or finality. 

While the short film is not as engaging as one would hope and the journey for Vyjanthi seems a bit contrived for the sake of making a short film, the issues raised are still very much worth exploring and the reality of gender oppression in present-day India, and this film lays the issues bare for the world to see and debate.

Written by: Lisa Factora-Borchers, April 11th 2009