Some faces the difficult experiences of poverty, some enjoys the liberty of education, explores the joys of womanhood, it is poignant to know that someone will never feel the frisson of dancing in the first shower of rain, never breathe the air of freedom, will never be the person she could have been, without any fault of hers but only because she was a girl, a woman in the making.
In India’s ancient scriptures, Vedas, the Puranas and the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, the female was well respected, was celebrated as the font of creation and as an equal half of her husband. Many Hindu deities are worshipped as proud and powerful goddess. It depicts the woman as equal to man, the “flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone.”
Once in our lives, most of us must have heard that a child is a ‘gift’ from God. it is not an uncommon sight in India to see couples praying to be blessed with a child. But almost half of India, does not considers it a blessing if that child happens to be a girl. The blessing soon becomes a curse. Of late, technology seems to have facilitated this diabolical slaughter even before the birth of the child in the form of female foeticide.
This grisly practice of female foeticide has now taken root in many parts of India. It is justified by a bogus argument that abortion of a partially developed foetus is more humane than the gruesome act of female infanticide, and better than the birth of unwelcome daughters. More shocking still is the fact that this trend is far stronger in urban than rural areas and among the literate than the illiterate, exploding the myth that education and affluence will help to eradicate gender bias. Perturbed at the practice, the Government of India had enacted a specific law to punish infanticide a hundred years ago. Female infanticide has been practiced in India for thousands of years, and with the increased availability of modern sex determination techniques such as amniocentesis, ultrasound and trans-vaginal probes, sex-selective abortion has become common in most of India’s big cities. In 1990, there were 25 million more males than females in India and by 2001 the gender gap had risen to 35 million. Experts now estimate that it may reach 50 million. The first warning against this scourge was voiced in 1990 by Amartya Sen – an Indian 1998 Nobel Prize winner in Economy – though since that time the situation has worsened.
Unsafe inside and outside womb
India has an age old fascination with the boy child. The culture in India is patriarchal and is a feudal society where women are neither seen nor heard. There is societal pressure for women to have male children and the level of disgust for the women is so grave that if she bears a girl child then she is phlegmatically thrown out of her husband’s house to bear the pain of growing the girl alone. Giving birth to a girl can lead to rejection by in-laws and by the community as a whole. In pockets of India where female infanticide persists, the practice is rooted in a complex mix of economic, social, and cultural factors. Parents’ preference for a boy derives from the widespread belief that a son is the preserver of family’s inheritance and if a son lighting his parents’ funeral pyre, it will ensure that their souls ascend to heaven; conversely a daughter is considered an economic burden.
The humbug of Indian society is pellucid here as on one hand it worships Durga, Kalli and Lakshmi, on the other it doesn’t hesitate to kill them because of their own orthodox thinking. While the Goddess is welcomed with open arms, our doors are still shut tight for the girl child. This issue needs to be taken more seriously than ever and the girl chills needs to be educated beyond eighth grade so that she can find her voice. This issue needs be rewritten and revocalized until it the dogmatic mindset of people undergoes a change.
Student, BA. LLB, Mody Institute of Technology and Sciences
[Submitted as an entry for the MightyLaws.in Blog Post Writing Competition, 2011]