Friday, January 28, 2011


                          PHOTO COURTESY- WWW.GOOGLE.COM

The phenomenon of female infanticide is as old as many cultures, and has likely accounted for millions of gender-selective deaths throughout history. It remains a critical concern nowadays. In all cases, specifically female infanticide reflects the low status accorded to women in most parts of the world; it is arguably the most brutal and destructive manifestation of the anti-female bias that pervades patriarchal societies. It is closely linked to the phenomena of sex-selective abortion, which targets female foetuses almost exclusively, and neglect of girl children.

The bias against females in India is related to the fact that Sons are called upon to provide the income and they are the ones who do most of the work in the fields. In this way sons are looked to as a type of insurance. With this perspective, it becomes clearer that the high value given to males decreases the value given to females. The problem is also intimately tied to the institution of dowry in which the family of a prospective bride must pay enormous sums of money to the family in which the woman will live after marriage.

Like the rural people even urban people even though, educated 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 foetuses. 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.
There also have been campaigns that have been held to promote awareness on female infanticide, the famous ones being
Vijay Gupta, Secretary of the Centre for Integrated Development, blamed an archaic mentality still rife in modern-day India for such trends to prevail in the society.
"In India the population of girls has been decreasing. In Madhya Pradesh, the situation is worse than the statistics on India as a whole. In Gwalior, the mentality is still of the past. India's average is 945 girls. In Gwalior there are 888 girls to every 1000 boys. The population is decreasing. Women get ultrasounds done and then have an abortion if they are expecting a girl. They don't want to have the girls, they don't want to let them live," Dr Gupta said.
Marathi actor Varsha Usgaonkar, who is part of another initiative taken against female infanticide, said she is more than happy to lend her name to such noble cause. "The sex ratio in India is alarming, and the root cause obviously is female foeticide. Since entertainment is common to all people, we thought that using this mode to spread the message for the girl child would be ideal. It is very sad that even educated people show a high preference for a male child," she stressed.

The principle of equality between men and women should be more widely promoted through the news media to change the attitude of son preference and improve the awareness of the general public on this issue; the principle should also be reflected in specific social and economic policies to protect the basic rights of women and children, especially female children. Government regulations prohibiting the use of prenatal sex identification techniques for nonmedical purposes should be strictly enforced, and violators should be punished accordingly. The laws that punish people who commit infanticide, abandonment, and neglect of female children, and the laws and regulations on the protection of women and children should be strictly enforced. The campaigns to protect women and children from being kidnapped or sold into servitude should be effectively strengthened. Family planning programs should focus on effective public education, good counselling and service delivery, and the fully voluntary participation of the community and individuals to increase contraceptive prevalence, reduce unplanned pregnancies, and minimize the need for an induced abortion. 
 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.

This ad promoting awareness of female foeticide in India is downright disturbing. Using stark black-on-white newspaper print, the ad boasts "How to carry on the family name," and then describes, in excruciating and graphic detail, how to perform an abortion. In India, every year 1.1 million unborn baby girls die before they are born. The print ad was awarded gold at the Cannes Ad Festival 2008.




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