Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Girl Child

I woke up this morning very distressed due to a report I watched on BBC World last night on how U.K. Indian women were aborting girls. The Oxford University study suggests 1,500 girls are "missing" from the birth statistics in England and Wales from 1990 to 2005. One British woman, who spoke to the BBC anonymously, said she had an abortion after a doctor in India found she was to have a fourth daughter. Last time I checked, finding out the sex of a baby in India was illegal. Then how was this happening? BBC did an undercover filming on a renowned gynaecologist, Dr Mangala Telang - a doctor recommended by the British High Commission to find out that not only does she secretly perform the ultrasounds to reveal the sex of the unborn child but also provides recommendations to those couples who wish for an abortion after having found out they are having a girl.

There's some disturbing new evidence in India about a growing gender imbalance in the country that's home to more than a billion people. A report published jointly by the Indian government and the United Nations Population Fund shows an alarming drop in the number of baby girls. An estimated seven million girls have gone missing from India's population over the last 25 years. Some of them will have been killed after they were born, or allowed to die within their first few days. But most of them will have been aborted. Selective abortion is happening all over India as ultrasound machines - which carry out the scan - have become cheaper, but it has always been worst in Punjab and Gujarat.

It is even more disturbing to find out that it is the elite class of India that mostly indulge in such practices mainly because they have easy access to ultrasound machines and have the money to pay for such illegal practices.

Whenever, I make a trip back to India, I find my friends and family gloating about how rapidly India is developing on its way to becoming a super power in the very near future. When I ask them questions on this growth, I often find out that their theories are based on availability of hi-tech jobs that have sprung up in the past few years due to heavy outsourcing from the U.S., easy access to foreign merchandise, huge lifestyle change that imitates the ones seen on Hollywood/Bollywood movies and most recently the increasing value of the Rupee. No one talks about education, the discrimination, the corruption, the superstitions that till date tie our society down and worst of all no one does anything about it. How does such a society develop? How does such a country become a super power? How come we don't admit what it true and try to bring a change?

I am proud to be a mother of a girl.

6 comments:

ArSENik said...

No wonder all the clubs are always full of guys. This is not done yaar! I am going to start a trend to popularize male infanticide in developed (sic) India, just so that the males of my future generations don't have the same complaints that I do. Heck, we would even be more developed (sic) than the mighty USA since even they don't practice male infanticide, which of course is the ultimate sign of progress.

Mala said...

Hmmmm....

Alankrita said...

I wonder, isn't this practice of misogyny deep rooted in the Indian psyche-true we worship Goddesses, but then again- look at the myriad traditional customs and the son-worship that goes on... a simple puja for a wedding has less emphasis on the female and more on the male.. women are perceived inferior and thus treated so- inferior to the point of being dispensable. It is not just dowry, no only "parental" pressure... what kind of man , the "meena" of the story's husband would be so blase about endangering his wife's life... and what kind of woman to keep peace at home willingly undergo something she did not want...Indian society treats women as inferior, they believe they are so themselves and the circle continues...
I know your daughter will grow up balanced and happy- because she is loved and wanted.

Mala said...

Alankrita, welcome to my blog.
I don't think that women undergo abortion because they want to keep peace at home, but they themselves share the same beliefs. That is what really confuses me - how can a woman who has the immense power of nurturing a life - take that away so blatantly based on such beliefs that defy her own existence.
Thank you for your well wishes towards my daughter. Thankfully the part of the Indian society I personally know (my friends and family) do not fall into this category and some I know, given the chance would like to bing about a change.

TravelVixen said...

It takes more than money to undo thousands of years of culture and beliefs. And it takes the will and desire of the people themselves to do it. I hate to say it but: "WITFM?" (What's In This For Me, for those of you who never worked at Lyon.) What is forcing these people to challenge their beliefs?

While it's easy for us to say "Because it's wrong to kill unborn baby girls!" that pre-supposes that these people share the same interpretation of right and wrong. It's not an absolute, unfortunately, as much as we in the west would like to believe so.

Soma said...

hello mala...
onekdin pore tomar blog porchhilum .... first nice re-desigining, looks really nice - good job.
abt your last few comments on this blog - my arguments are also the same, and amaro tai mone hoe, how can people talk abt india's advancement when all these things r still going on, and more than 50% (more) are still under the poverty line and without electricity...
the thing is not always the girls r given the real scenario, still now at most places in india they are told all their life that their in-laws house is their actual house and they need to do everything possible to keep them happy (!!) - who thinks abt that girl.
in india (on my last trip) read few stories like this as well -- one girl went thru an abortion without even knowing, she was taken to the dr for usual ultrasound accompanied my mil and hubby, and was told by the dr that he needed to do some emergency thing (?) for the baby, all with the approval of hubby/mil, and rest u can guess, this is some rich marawari family from kolkata. and listen to this -- in this advanced india one lady (still married with 3 daughters) agreed for her husband's second marriage - why?? - as according to her in-laws family they need a grandson to carry the family name and this lady could not do that (!!!), this lady did not have any place to go and she thought abt her poor father and agreed to this. this story came out as one of her cousin came to know abt it and was asking for legal help in a well known magazine. so -- imagine ---
yup - i feel the same what to do and how, and keep thinking abt these.