Thursday, 3 January 2013

Female foeticide - Part 2

Part 2
With regards to the 7 points mentioned in part 1, let us examine the role of the society.

1.    She doesn't take the family name forward. - It is widely accepted that a girl drops her father's  name on marrying her husband i.e she merges with her husband's family and is no longer considered a part of her father's family.  But, is it really neccessary? There are many women who maintain both their father's and husband's name. Take for example - Ms Sulajja Firodia Motwani, Aiswarya Rai Bachan etc but these are limited to the high socities only.   The society could easily form a custom of retaining the family names of both father and husband with a girl's name.

2.    A lot of money is required to marry off a girl.  Well it does take a lot of money to get a girl married.   While the expenses to conduct the marriage depend on the affluence of the father of the bride, it is the aspect of dowry that is back breaking for many a parent.  This is the single most issue critical for the increase in female foeticide.  A boy only brings home money (in the form of dowry) whereas the girl takes away a lot of money from her parents (often all of it). 
The problem doesn't end there with the parents have to look after the girl during several occassions such as festivals, family functions etc.  whereas, in the case of a boy, one just needs to give birth and he will surely get married and bring home some money even if he is handicapped.  Though the Govt banned dowry as illegal, it is common knowledge that dowry is given and many times photographs are also taken of money being handed over.  

3.   She cannot look after her parents in their old age.   In the present setup, a girl quite obviously cannot look after her parents in their old age.  Not because she doesn't want to, but because her husband/in-laws would not let her do so.  The same husband would instantly drop her at his parents place if they fall ill.  So, whose fault is it? it is definitely not the girl child's!! It is the society that accepts in an unwritten code that a girl (after marriage) need not go to look after her parents but must look after her in-laws.  This again requires only a change in the mindset of the society and bring in new thought.

4.   Some of the Parents with girl children feel inferior.  This again is a creation of the society only.  Every elder blesses a couple/woman to have a baby boy only and it is widely reported that if you tell lies, you will have girl children (as a punishment).  I heard this saying for the first time while in class 6 and  you can imagine its effect on young minds. Many people also take it a curse to have girl children (like in the movie devdas - in which kiron kher curses shah rukh khan's mother that they will have girl children in their house) and men are considered macho only if they have boys. This not withstanding the fact that Bill Clinton, George Bush, Michele Obama, Manmohan Singh etc have only girl children.  These feelings create an inferiority complex and often there is a discussion of 'ladki walein' (girl's side) and 'ladke walein' (boy's side) even among friends and relatives.  And we do notice that that 'ladke walein' are often insensitive to the needs of the 'ladki walein'.

5.     Traditionally, she cannot light the pyre of her parents.   Why not? Gone are the days when women were too weak hearted to light a pyre or needed to be stopped from jumping into the pyre themselves.  In the modern day era, where women have reached the moon and are heading the biggest of corporates, cant they light a pyre in the absence of any male child in the family? The present custom is archaic and needs to be changed.

6.      A lifetime committment is required to look after the girl even after the marriage.     A lifetime committment is indeed required with a Girl due to the present social conditions.  For example - a pregnant girl is taken to her home in the final months to provide her care and comfort.  But the reason for this custom is that she may not be looked after well in her in-laws house.  Similarly, the girl's parents pay for the hospitalisation expenses and delivery of the child. Doesn't the child belong to the husband also? Then why doesn't the boy's side pay?  Similar are the cases during many festivals and family functions!!

7.   She has to be protected and looked after wherever she goes unlike a boy.    She has to be protected in the present day world where even 2 year old babies are not spared from rape.  That is the subject of my next blog post.

In olden times when families and the number of children were large, it was an extremely remote possibility for a couple to have only girls. Sometimes they had a boy after 4 or 5 girls (in extreme cases)  This resulted in every family having a mix of both boys and girls.  This permitted easy implementation of most of the customs as families were balanced.  For example if a girl in a family was married off and dropped her father's name, there was another girl (as daughter -in-law) entering their house after dropping her own father's name.  However with the families becoming nuclear and smaller (with only 2 or 3 children), the balance is getting skewed against girls and with this all the attendant problems are also on the rise.

Couple this with the 'objectification' of women in the movies,T.v and the internet - we have a recipe for disaster in the name of female foeticide.

But, How do we counter this demon? Read on my suggestions in my next post - "Gang rape".  


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