#Selfiewithdaughter hashtag highlights gender inequality in India

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Photo credit: Eric Vernier/Flickr

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a social media campaign in June using the hashtag ‪#‎selfiewithdaughter‬ to promote gender equality and raise awareness on issues such as female feticide and infanticide that have plagued the Indian subcontinent for years.


The #selfiewithdaughter campaign has taken off, so far, more than 70,000 people have used the hashtag and taken pictures of them with their daughters both inside and outside India. The campaign originated from a similar campaign launched by a a village leader, Sunil Jaglan, in a village in Haryana in northern India.

This isn’t the first time Modi has taken to social media for social and political campaigns. His party, the Bhartiya Janata Party encouraged supporters to tweet images with him (Modi) using the hashtag #selfiewithmodi using a mobile app or at stations set up at various locations such as the party headquarters.

Modi has also urged the public to promote the campaign “Beti Bachao, Beti Badhao” which means: “Save the daughter, Educate the daughter” however the campaign has had it’s share of controversy. Indian actress Shruti Seth and the All India Progressive Women Association secretary Kavita Krishnan have criticized the campaign saying they have little impact and that Modi should concentrate on tackling social issues rather than hashtag activism. The tweets resulted in a slew of counter tweets between Modi supporters and the women and Seth later took down her tweets and posted a note about it.

According to UNICEF India, since 1991, 80 percent of districts in India have recorded a declining sex ratio. According to the 2011 census, there were 960 females for every 1,000 males. Pre-natal sex selection has continued to grow in spite of the implementation of the Preconception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Act of 1994. The act was modified in 2003 making sex selection a punishable offense.

Violence against women has also been an issue raised by nonprofit organizations in light of a recent number of rape cases reported in the media and after a high-profile documentary “India’s Daughter” highlighted a specific example of rape. The fact that marital rape is still legal in India has also been a heated topic of conversation. India’s criminal law states: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.”

Indian government statistics for 2012 track the number of cases of violence against women: 

  • Rape: 24,923
  • Kidnapping and abduction: 38,262
  • Dowry deaths: 8,233
  • Cruelty by husband or his relatives: 106,527

Source: National Crime Records Bureau, India – 2012

*for some states data not available.