Why do we hate our daughters even today?
India’s 2011 census figures are a stark reminder and in-your-face proof of the fact that as a society and as a nation, we have failed to eliminate and eradicate female foeticide and infanticide. Studies have proved that the probability of a boy over a girl is higher in child birth. But India is today faced with an unnaturally skewed sex ratio – in the under six category, it is 914:1000 – the lowest since independence.
Noted economist and Nobel prize winner had noted in the early nineties that, “women outnumber men in much of the developed world. Even in sub-Saharan Africa, ravaged as it is by calamities and enervating poverty, women outnumber men. In Asia, however, particularly in India and China, the opposite is true.”
But why does the Indian culture that does not shy away from offering prayers to Goddesses, discriminate so much against the girl child? Even today and even among the educated class, it is a very common practice to get a female foetus aborted. An increase in the standard of living and better access to health facilities has just aggravated the problem. Despite the fact that sex determination is illegal, it is prevalent among the so called “high-class” as well.
If the intended female foeticide for whatsoever reason fails to take place, the girl child is brought into a hostile environment where ill-treatment is the order of the day. It is shocking that many couples, in want of a boy child, end up producing enough kids to contribute towards the nation’s soccer or a cricket team singlehandedly (not double-handedly because I wonder is the mother has any say in the production process). What more, even the uneducated literates hold their wives responsible for not passing on the Y chromosome to the foetus – something that women do not have to begin with!
For a very long time, it was just the conservative northern India that was diseased with this social syndrome but unfortunately it has spread to the hitherto neutral central and southern parts of the country. To begin with, it is believed that the sons are the only source of income for the family; the daughter would have to be given dowry at the time of marriage – a financial drain; and once married, the daughter is not there to take care of you. And with a nuclear family set-up gaining currency and more couples choosing to have only one child, a boy child gets preference.
What got me to write this is this particular article by a writer from Lahore (Pakistan) that says, “All this happening in India because deeply rooted norms in India devalue women……….In addition, in India if one only has daughters he will be reincarnated in a lower caste. Even though the caste system was abolished under British rule, and the dowry was banned in 1961 by law, both remain widely practiced. Even the Hindu religion does not provide any security to this creature. The modern democratic India follows these religious teachings of hatred and enmity towards women. …………In past, in Hindu society new born girls were buried alive now new born baby girls are either strangled to death or aborted during pregnancy.”
Though I would have loved to write a reply to this article, reality struck me hard. We, at the end of the day, do kill our daughters. Not exactly, we have done much more than that, we are killing our future brides. Just imagine if there are going to be only 1000 men 20 years hence, 86 young men would have to lead a life of a bachelor! It is again a norm that a girl should marry into a richer family; hence the poorer 86 men will go without brides. Now my concern is that frustrated young unemployed poor men will resort to heinous crimes like rapes and murders. Do we now we know why the Indian capital city, New Delhi is not safe for women – it also suffers from a skewed sex ratio.
While it did not strike me, Union Minister Farooq Abdullah observed that there will be a day when men will have no girls to marry and they may have to turn “gay”.
Well, the bride has not gone missing actually, just undergone a gender change!