Somebody once said that the safest place on earth is a mother’s womb.
However, the results from the latest Indian Census seem to negate the above statement. The biggest shock of this census is the decline in the child gender ratio at 914 girls (under the age of six) for every 1,000 boys. This is the lowest since Independence and is a steep drop from a high of 976 girls in the 1961 census. This is not just alarming, but Murder!!!
Female foeticide is as prevalent in literate urban India as it is in the rural side. The irony is that we as a country worship women – as mothers, as sisters, as goddesses – more so than many other countries: it’s ingrained in our cultures. “Mere Paas Maa Hai” is more than a filmy line –it is one of the most powerful lines ever made and it appeals to every Indian in a way no foreigner can comprehend; Raksha Bandhan is celebrated as much for brothers as it is for sisters; Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are worshipped with religious ferocity across the length and breadth of the World’s rising new Super Power. Then how is that we resort to such inhuman treatment for the Devi, even before she’s born into our family?
Centuries of social conditioning have put the Son on a pedestal, while relegating the Daughter to under it. As a result, a mother who bears a son has a higher social standing than one who bears a daughter. This needs to stop. Women are the caretakers of our life – as mothers, as home makers, as colleagues - awareness need to be built to change our society to a gender-equal one.
The dowry system is seen to be another major cause of the female foeticide. The Dowry system is ingrained in our society. The concept of the Arranged Marriage feeds to this premise. With the rising number of divorces nowadays, India is slowly moving towards matrimony that is not ‘fixed’, but favored, and thus hopefully bring in the demise of the Dowry. But it will still take a lot many more suns when Dowry as a concept will be abolished from Indian soils.
Did you know that an doctor earns a paltry amount of around Rs 5000/- in Bangalore after his MBBS? I’ve been in Bangalore for 7 years now and I know that Rs 5K is nothing here. For an MBBS to stand on his feet, he needs to do an MD and even a super specialization after that. The irony is the number of MD seats in India is in a measly number in comparison to the rising number of MBBS students. This serious supply - demand skew jacks up the prices for the existing MD seats (last I heard, it’s about Rs. 60-75 Lakhs for the basic seat), taking it beyond the reach of many well qualified MBBS students. How can you expect a doctor to follow ethics when his basic livelihood is in question? Hence it’s not very surprising he resorts to the illegal pre natal gender determination tests to substantiate his already low income.
As citizens, we must understand that female foeticide is nothing short of murder. The authorities has made the right noises by establishing laws and help-lines to tackle female foeticide. It is up to us, as citizens, to bring in the next level of change, starting with our mindset, to end this social stigma.
For the India that we are, for the India that we’ll become and most importantly, for the India that we aspire to be, let us save our girls.