Last week I watched a talk show on TV. The discussion was about the poor sex ration in India. As per one of the participants about a million female fetuses are aborted every year. This, in spite of the fact that sex determination is illegal in India. In some regions like Punjab the ratio is as low as 725 females for every 1000 males. The sex ratio in India is 933(the world average in 1025). There were many interesting opinions expressed during the discussion.
One doctor was strongly in favor of sex determination. He asked “What is the purpose of bringing an unwanted child into this world. If the parents don’t want a girl child, wouldn’t the child have to face rejection though out her life?” There was another lady who had gone to the court stating, she had two girl children and she wanted a boy, so she should be allowed to determine the sex of her baby. She claimed that it would be the same if she had two boys and wanted a girl. To that someone replied, ”You cannot have designer families”
An expecting mother said that she would like to know the sex of her child, not because she wanted to select the sex but more because she would be able to bond better with her unborn child. A doctor, who was the creator of the first test tube baby in India said, “Banning sex determination without examining and correcting the larger social context which results in people not wanting a girl child, would be of no use. That is why this law is such a failure in India”.
That is an interesting point of view. I tried to examine this bias from my own social context. Having been born in family of generations of educated women, I never ever felt disadvantaged because of my gender. My mother and my grandma are both post graduates. I always assumed that this kind of bias toward boys, happens in a different class of society. I later discovered this is not true at all.
I was discussing this with my grandma. She has three girls, my mother being the eldest. She said that when her third daughter was born after a gap of 10 years, people refused to break the news to her. They thought she might die of shock and disappointment. My grandma told, “ I could not understand what all the fuss was about. But I understand now”. She is 80 years old and although she is financially independent she cannot live alone. She lives with my mom. She feels it is her son-in-law’s house. Whereas if she had a son, she could rightfully live with him. The second reason she gave was very interesting, “As a mother you are very emotionally invested in your daughters. Till you die their problems are yours, their children’s problems are yours. You always feel the need to protect them. Whereas with sons, after they are married you do not have that level of involvement in their life. You don’t feel so much pain”. I am not sure I agree with this argument. I have a son myself and I can’t think of any time when I would not feel the need to protect him or feel less emotionally invested in him.
My dad has two daughters and now I recall several instances when people used to express regret that he does not have a son. I just cannot understand this attitude. If people who are poor, are dependent on their sons for financial support, who do not have the means to get their daughters married what to have boys, it is understandable. I wonder why this bias among people who have practically nothing loose by having a daughter.
Long ago I read an article written by an American journalist about female infanticide prevalent in several villages in South India. Most of these people live in appalling poverty and just cannot afford a female child. Whereas she found many women in Mumbai, who were rich and educated and hence had access to illegal sex determination clinics and routinely got their female fetuses aborted. She says she had less sympathy for these women then those poverty stricken women in villages who killed their female children in desperation.
Do let me know what you think what you think about this issue. Why is there are predominant preference for a male child in our society? Do you think banning sex determination is the solution to the problem?