Will the problem of female infanticide ever be solved? Sadly, this is a major issue still faced by many policy makers and NGOs of our country.
In rural areas where a lot of people do not have access to sex determination facilities, female infanticide is shockingly common. The parents wait until the mother gives birth, and when they find out that a daughter is born, they go ahead and kill the baby by adopting various means such as strangling the baby,
giving her poison, dumping her in a garbage bin, drowning her, burying
her alive, starving her, stuffing her mouth with salt, or leaving her
outdoors overnight so she dies of exposure.
What is disturbing is that femaleinfanticide
is not considered a big crime and rarely do culprits get convicted.
Once in while there is a harsh conviction of the parent followed by
some publicity, and it isn't long before the news dies down.
Surprisingly, mothers are the ones who often perpetrate the crime, with
the support of other women in her network. Since the mother is the one who has given birth to the unwanted female,
she is the one who must do away with it. She is forced to do so at
times, and willingly does so at others since she herself desires a male
child. How much the mother, another victim of atrocities, is really to blame though, is anybody's guess.
Where the daughter's life is spared, parents often neglect her and
expect her to work around the house serving her brothers and father.
Girls are rarely sent to school, and if they are, they are removed
after a few years of education and put to work - perhaps sent to cities
to work as maids in homes, and send back money earned by them. In all
probability, they are treated far better at the homes they work in as
maids than they are in their own homes - but instances of harsh
ill-treatment and abuse of such girls are also just as common.
Rural life is far removed from city life. Although we may
have come across villagers who perhaps now work under us as office
boys, peons, waiters in restaurants, drivers, cooks and household help,
rarely do we ever try and bring about a change in their mindset. Sadly
though, educated, urban and fairly wealthy people too often nurse a
desire for a male child, and although they may not kill their daughter
after she is born, they do try and find out the sex of their child, and
abort female fetuses.
Although disclosing the gender of a foetus is illegal, there are
numerous doctors that disclose the child's sex for an enhanced fee, and
then offer to arrange for the abortion. Thus although there is a good
law in place, its implementation is not as effective as it should be.
Although all of us take pride in our Indian culture, we need
to recognize that there is something fundamentally wrong with a culture
that assumes the superiority of males, and that celebrates Indian women
for being meek, submissive and sacrificial. One way you can help
counter this mindset is by being proud of the women in your life, and
by taking pride in yourself if you are a woman.
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- The Indiaparenting Team