Female foeticide – a different take

Arrest after man buries twins alive caught my eye as I read on in horror. While the issues raised by the selective abortion of female foetuses creates a great deal of social concern for the future of India, I think it is worse that newly borns are burried alive after birth. This makes me think that perhaps we as a society, a government are imposing our morals on people who would like to have the choice of gender in their offspring.

If banning the testing of sex of infants and terminating female foetuses only mean that these activities are done illegally anyway, if it means that the women undergoing those options may not even have the right to sue for any malpractices they may be enduring because of their act being illegal, if it means that babies are being murdered…… I think that somewhere we are creating rules for how a whole lot of people should have kids. We are not consulting them, their interests, their concerns, or their choice. This is creating far worse problems than the ones it attempts to avoid.

A father who kills his own daughters may be a murderer, but are we doing the daughters that get saved any favours, if this is the kind of hatred they will be facing in life? Do those families really want them? Will they love them and be fair to them, or have a grudge about not having a son instead, for eating up the family resources? Would these parents be expected to raise these girls as healthy, happy citizens anyway? Would they care about their education?

On a different note, I have a feeling that society cures itself over time through the consequences of its own actions. Today, we are facing problems with discrimination against women, harrassment, social unacceptability of a divorce, dowry problems, unacceptability of remarriage for widows, etc. If things continue as they are, society is going to fall short on women in comparison with men. This might just be what the doctor ordered to deal with the other issues.

If women become rarer, they will be valued more. Competition between prospective husbands will ensure an eventual death of the dowry system out of sheer competitive tactics to procure a wife in the first place regardless of money. Women may be respected more. Widows and divorcees may have better chances of acceptance and remarriage through the sheer need of marrigable women. A decrease in the female population will eventually also reflect in a decreased population. Even homosexuality may be more easily accepted out of sheer acclimatization through necessity. I think, this would not really be a bad thing.

Consider a family who wants a male child. They may want it to carry on the “family name”. They may want it for managing the property of a home in the future in an agricultural society. They may want it to ensure “their support” in their old age. They may even want it because they like boys more than girls…… Whatever the reasons are, they are their reasons. They are as important to them, as our vision of respect for women is for us. Who are we to dictate what they should or should not do with regard to their own children? We can influence, but if we force, we are forcing them into something they don’t want for themselves.

I hate the thought of an abortion being done simply because the child is female. I wouldn’t do it. That doesn’t mean that everyone has to be like me.

Consider this family we are speaking of. They want a child. A boy. Ideally, they want only one, because that is what they think they can afford. Great. They get pregnant. They would like to ensure that their child is a boy as planned. They go to some shady sex determination clinic. Their being shady also makes them be careful to stay under the radar. No one can say that the instruments they use or the procedures they follow are safe. This couple is already required to flirt with risk to the mother’s life and health through a need for a technology that is available through clean medical facilities as well, if not banned. Yet, if they want to do it enough, they will do it anyway.

This is for the poor and gullible. Those who can afford it can simply fly out of the country and test all they like. So it cannot be completely stopped anyway. These shady things happen by those with access to information on these illegal facilities. Others will go on to deliver and find out. If it is a boy, Excellent! If it is a girl, she’s lucky if the parents fall in love with her at birth, or the options ahead are far worse – being murdered, or being hated all her life for being female. What right to we as a collective society have to inflict this on them? Is this killing of infants already born preferrable to the hypothetical lives that might be born in the future to those who cannot figure out illegal facilities? I think we are hurting the rights of the parents to avail all available knowledge to make their planned child exactly the way they want it. Abortion is legal in India. So why this selective fuss to condemn those born to hate and violence at an age when they don’t even understand anything at all?

We as a society are bigotted rats. We impose our assessments of what is right and wrong very easily, but what are the factors we should really be considering? Should we be sacrificing female babies to their own parents to follow our dream of equal gender ratios in the “shining India”? What right do we have to prevent the painless termination of an unborn life only to force it to be delivered into a cradle of hate? Only an assumption that anything is better than having less girls?

If India has less females in the future, so be it. This is what society wanted, this is what it will get. If they find out in the future that they don’t like this scarcity of females and they want more girls to be around, they can allow their female offspring to live exclusively as well, and make their choice. It is not like the massive population of India is suddenly going to go extinct.

Since this article was written in 2007, other significant things have come to light. Most importantly, we see the opposite of the intended effect of banning gender determination. We have significantly lesser girl children now.

I think this ban must be discontinued and social conversations be initiated around gender. It is not the method of getting rid of females that is the problem, but the desire to do so. We need to address factors that make daughters such a threat (financial, social, emotional) that they must be killed. We need conversations of love courage and appreciation, invitations to see the charm of a daughter, not forced imposition of females on those who don’t want them.

We must stop repressing people over numbers, or we are going to do more harm than good.

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About the Author

Vidyut is a blogger on issues of National interest. Staunch advocate of rights, learning and freedoms. @Vidyut

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