Saturday, March 10, 2007

Wake Up and Act

I had resolved right at the onset of the year 2007 that I would try to do my bit to create awareness among my students about the socio-medical problems that would result in society on account of female feticide and infanticide. I am indeed lucky to have students who are receptive and look forward to these sessions. These are simple girls with a middle class background neither too ambitious nor over smart. I have also converted this time into one in which they can try expressing themselves in English. Since I make a note of their errors in expression the girls love pointing out to mistakes made by their friends who in turn wait for their turn to settle scores. All this is done in good spirit with all of them learning a lot in the process. On one such occasion I tried to generate opinion on what they perceive as reasons for a mother giving into pressure from their husbands or relatives to abort her unborn girl child. The response was almost unanimous. Their mothers keep mentioning about the financial strain that the family would face at the time of their marriage. In families where there was no male child the pressure on parents was even more. They fear that while they would do their best to procure a well employed groom for their daughters they themselves could have no expectations from their sons in law or daughters. The girls also felt that their mothers were also under pressure from their grandparents who believed that a grandson alone had a role to play in the performance of their last rites, to try again and again for a male issue. These mothers in turn opted for Sex Determination tests and chose to abort the unborn female child, very often much against their will. The awareness and easy availability of such tests to the middle class has only compounded the problem. Education, instead of helping them to stand up against their families, has only made them opt for the seemingly easy way out.

In the program I mentioned in my previous post, the secretary of the NGO group that works for child rights gave a heart rending account of a practice that is followed in rural Rajasthan. This may be the case in other states as well. Some of you could perhaps share more information in this regard.
It seems when a pregnant woman goes into labor the male members of the family wait in the front verandah or living room while the female huddle into a room in the interior with some older woman attending to the lady in question. The birth of a son is announced with gun shots in the air and bursting of fire crackers, but if the infant is a girl an elderly woman comes out and asks-
“ Baraat ko rehney doon ya lauta doon?” meaning “Shall I let the marriage party remain or should I send them back?”
The males then decide whether the girl should be allowed to live or not. If they decide that the girl should not live, the next question asked is “How should the ‘baraat’ be returned?” The male members then decide how the child may be put to death-the most common method being to stuff the baby’s mouth with tobacco.

Friends, it is not my intention to depress you. Those of us who can make an impact should do our bit by educating those around us of the social issues that can crop up if the female population dwindled. We may have more Draupadis marrying 5 men at the same time or prostitution may be legalized. Rapes and unwanted pregnancies may increase and we’d be hearing about love octagons instead of love triangles. I am not joking at all and believe me if this continues we will return to Stone Age very soon


passerby55 said...

Hello Preeta!

Thankyou for writing this post.. We all can make a difference. Only if we were really bothered.

Yes, this post is depressing,It hurts to the core. I am a female too. ANd i feel the pangs much more.

I am glad that i have always read YOu. God bless you.

PixelChick said...

Mom... so very depressing. I don't know what to say, except to feel powerless and angry.

Hip Grandma said...

passerby:we should all try to do our bit.Save the girl child from being terminated for no fault of hers.

pixelchick:It is very depressing but let us not lose heart.We should all do what we can and while there is time.

Srijith Unni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Srijith Unni said...

This is so very true hip grandma.. Female foeticide is not happening in just remote places like Rajasthan alone, even in richer and developed states like Punjab, which is very shocking and sad.!

In fact recently there has been cases of female population dwindling so much that the men in a locality in punjab started marrying foreign women and bringing them to punjab. A case of a wrong solution to the wrong problem.!

I`m very much with you, I even remember penning down a few lines here in helplessness.!

Please do let me know how i can do my bit to help.

With Best Regards,

Usha said...

Recently saw a hindi film called "maatrubhoomi"- talks of what happens when there is just one woman in the whole village after all this female infanticide. Horrifying, shocking.
Have you read The Hnadmaid's tale by Margaret Atwood? Please do.
I think they should ensure that a health worker or a doctor is present at every birth and certify the child's condition so these sly practices can be done away with.

Neers said...

dont i agree with this one!

Hip Grandma said...

Srijith:Your poem was indeed very touching.How true it is that we don't think twice about just ending a child's life just because she is a girl.We call ourseles a spiritual and cultured nation.Should we??

Usha:Thanx for your reco.I'll definitely read the book and try to watch the movie.

neers:All sensitive people shud do have a way with words why don't you write a poem on the issue?

sbora said...

I love your writing but this was utterly depressing considering I just had a baby girl. Can we do anything about this at all? No matter how much awareness you create, there will still be pockets and sections of society that will remain undeterred.
We probably wont be able to completely eradicate this nuisance but at least reduce the incidences.
I enjoy reading your posts and thank you for again bringing this to the forefront.

Hip Grandma said...

sbora:welcome here.please take utmost care of your baby girl.make her strong and self respecting.Very often lack of confidence makes girls vulnerable to societal pressure although several other factors play a part in perpetrating such crimes.

Publia said...

We have lots of older women here in the USA who have delayed child bearing for the sake of career. Some wait too long. We don't have enough babies for adoption here, and parents are willing to travel abroad for adoption. There is great demand for babies, even if from a different background.

I am sure that women from the USA would be very interested in adopting these babies. They would have excellent educations, a comfortable life, and a great deal of opportunity.

Won't you commit yourself today to saving these babies lives and working toward adoption? If the family cannot keep the child, I would think they would like someone else to love that child and raise it to maturity.

Please work toward giving these children a chance.

Hip Grandma said...

publia:The government and NGO groups are doing a lot of work in this direction and getting sponsors for these unwanted girls to be adopted.It is these parents who need to be educated.I'll do whatever I can to make this possible.Thanx for dropping by.

Mahadevan said...

Education should start with parents and then it would percolate down to the children. Parents should be made to realise that a female child can contribute, as much, and at times, more than the male to the welfare of the family and society at large. They should be made to understand that female foeticide is murder and hence needs to be punished under the law. We should also impress upon them that no scriptures sanction female foeticide, and if they indulge in such heinous acts, they would be punished by law and also by the Gods they believe in. Persons guilty of such acts, should be ostracized from the society.

Hip Grandma said...

mahadevan:you have said it rightly.developing the right attitude and educating the masses about the selective foeticide and infanticide of females.There should be a consentious and continuous effort in this direction;