I was talking to a friend today when she mentioned one of her friends was coming over from India on holiday and would like to have a scan to find out the sex of her child. It took me a second to realise why she’d want a scan here with an unfamiliar doctor when a show I watched last year (Satyamev Jayate) was brought to the front of my mind. It is illegal in India to find out the sex of your baby. Why? I mean as first or even second time parents you’re excited. You want to know the sex so you can start thinking of names, buy cute clothes, decorate your nursery. In India however it is illegal to find out because over 7 lakh foetuses a year are aborted when the parents find out they are female. Sounds unbelievable right?
But thousands of women are forced to undergo a scan by their in-laws or their husband to find out if they are carrying a male or female foetus. Often they are beaten or abused if it turns out to be a girl. There are stories of mother in-laws who have pushed baby girls down the stairs and husbands who have drugged their wives and then taken them to have an illegal abortion. I don’t get it!! The mother in law is a woman (how would she like to be pushed down the stairs?!) and the sex of the child is determined by the man, not the woman.
In ancient India, the birth of a girl was actually considered very auspicious. There’s an old Indian proverb that goes “A home without a daughter is like a body without a soul”. Girls were seen as “Laxmi’s” (Goddess of wealth) coming to your home. I’m not sure when all this changed. In fact I think today a woman is in every way as capable as a man is. Women excel in every field of life, they often act as moral as well as financial support to their parents. So why is it then that males are preferred? And if girls are not allowed to be born then how will lineage continue? Some believe that India is being affected by the burden of the dowry system. Faced with the prospect of having to save up for their daughter’s wedding and spending lakhs they may not have, they choose to seek a “solution” at birth. Sometimes mothers themselves choose to abort rather than bring their daughters into such a skewed, male dominated society.
As I watched Satyamev Jayate last year, the first thing that passed through my mind was although it’s not right in any way, the underprivileged don’t know better, they are uneducated. But it’s not just the underprivileged doing this. It’s the wealthy, educated, those living in big cities. You’d think they’d know better, that their education would open up their minds (and hearts!) but sadly this isn’t the case.
Unfortunately this situation doesn’t seem to be any closer to being resolved (even with the banning of scans and abortion) but I’m hoping shows like Satyamev Jayate can start bringing more awareness as to what’s going on. In the meantime, cuddle your daughters (and your sons), they are all so precious!