female foeticide

It’s a girl: The three deadliest words in the world

http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2012/01/16/it%E2%80%99s-a-girl-the-three-deadliest-words-in-the-world/

It’s a girl, a film being released this year, documents the practice of killing unwanted baby girls in South Asia. The trailer’s most chilling scene is one with an Indian woman who, unable to contain her laughter, confesses to having killed eight infant daughters.

The statistics are sickening. The UN reports approximately 200 million girls in the world today are ‘missing’. India and China are said to eliminate more female infants than the number of girls born in the US each year. Lianyungang in China has the worst infant gender ratio on record with 163 boys born for every 100 girls. Taiwan, South Korea and Pakistan are also countries in which unwanted female babies are aborted, killed or abandoned.

Gendercide in South Asia takes many forms: baby girls are killed or abandoned if not aborted as foetuses. Girls that are not killed often suffer malnutrition and medical neglect as sons are favoured when shelter, medicine and food are scarce. Trafficking, dowry deaths, honour killings and deaths resulting from domestic violence are all further evils perpetrated against women. This femicide has led the Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces to report in ‘Women in an Insecure World’ that a secret genocide is being carried out against women at a time when deaths resulting from armed conflicts have decreased.

The brutal irony of femicide is that it is an evil perpetrated against girls by women. The most insidious force is often the mother in law, the domestic matriarch, under whose authority the daughter in law lives. Policy efforts to halt infanticide have been directed at mothers, who are often victims themselves. The trailer shows tragic scenes of women having to decide between killing their daughters and their own well-being. In India women who fail to produce sons are beaten, raped or killed so that men can remarry in the hope of procuring a more productive wife.

It is an oft-made argument that parental discrimination between children would end if families across south Asia were rescued from poverty. But two factors particularly suggest that femicide is a cultural phenomenon and that development and economic policy are only a partial solution: Firstly, there is no evidence of concerted female infanticide among poverty-stricken societies in Africa or the Caribbean. Secondly, it is the affluent and urban middle classes, who are aware of prenatal screenings, who have access to clinics and who can afford abortions that commit foeticide. Activists fear 8 million female foetuses have been aborted in India in the last decade.

The Chinese cultural bias towards male children is one exacerbated by the birth control policy. India, however, poses a more complex problem where the primary cause is a cultural one.

Activists attribute a culture of valuing children by their economic potential to South Asia’s patriarchal social model in which men are the sole breadwinners. Sons both carry the family name and work from a young age. Daughter, on the other hand, impose the burden of a dowry before leaving the home upon marriage. Strict moral codes, onerous cultural expectations and demanding domestic responsibilities are all forces that further subjugate women.

Dr Saleem ur Rehman, director of health services for the Kashmiri Valley, has conceded that a healthy male to female infant ratio in Kashmir in 2001 led him and his team to become complacent. Since 2001, the ratio has dropped from 94.1 to 85.9 girls per 100 boys. The solution, however, lies beyond merely holding officials to account.

The cultural root of the problem partially explains why an effective solution has eluded authorities. Legal prohibitions have proved ineffective. In India, dowries were outlawed 1961 and in 1994 the Prenatal Determination Act outlawed gender selective abortions. Yet dowries remain a condition of marriage and action against unregistered or non-compliant clinics fail to intercept registered medical professionals performing illegal operations.

A crude supply and demand distinction can be drawn. Activists argue the demand for eliminating female fetuses is independent of the supply of illegal services. Only those that can afford to abort will do so. Others simply kill or abandon female infants after birth. This foeticide/infanticide equation will only skew towards the latter if the problem of illegal clinics and criminal doctors were solved.

In the New Statesmen, Laurie Penny explained that South Korea improved its infant gender ratio through a programme of education. But is increasing the awareness of contraception, abortion laws and women’s rights a panacea? No. Educational efforts insufficiently target the core cultural canker. Similarly, economic policed designed to encourage development are necessary but insufficient. Any improvement in living conditions is unlikely to offset the financial burden of raising a child and a dowry.

A solution therefore must be three-fold. Policy efforts combatting poverty must be supplemented by legal prohibitions. There must be an educational programme informing women of their rights. Finally and most importantly, there must be a social and religions campaign aimed at destroying ossified cultural attitudes.

The distinction between, on the one hand a programme of economics and education and on the other a cultural campaign is not qualitative but quantitative. The latter warrants a greater level of official engagement, allowing governments to actively discourage femicide rather than passively encouraging change.

A ‘secret genocide’ is a malaise in response to which government paternalism must surely be justified. In Kashmir, officials have enlisted the help of social and religious leaders. It is religious and social leaders that must reinforce legal prohibitions on dowries with campaigns attacking the social pressures of producing one. And they must supplement information of women’s rights by persuading mothers to educate their daughters and to allow their daughters to work. These cultural channels are best placed to begin to erode sexist cultural monoliths- Ram Mashru

31 thoughts on “female foeticide”

  1. The most insidious force is often the mother in law, the domestic matriarch ……………….Its all nothing but economic. If you go to middle east like syria ,its the reverse situation from india,they prefer girls because here the boy pays the bride’s parents…….

  2. The issue is not a question of liability.
    These problems are created by society over
    the years.mainly by the males of the species.
    It is often the mothers of boys who demand
    dowry.The demand for money affects the girl’s
    parents.disgusted by this even women do not
    desire give birth to girls.Mention if any household
    can have any charm if there is no female child
    at home.The house is gloomy and dull.
    the boys demand and get the attention as they
    are taken to be future money bringers and are spoilt.
    An intelligent girl is denied the education she deserves
    just to accommodate the male even if he is a moron.
    This is an individious distinction, all man made.
    Let us learn to be civilised.boy or girl a child is a child.
    neither should feel unwanted.
    Any parent who doesn’t understand this deserves
    contempt.
    The real mischief monger ultimately is the female
    parent!

  3. wannabe spewing venom because she thinks she lacks something and is jealous. but before doing so should realize that because of these greedy wannabis and not because of any gender the scenario of female foeticide in india or the scenario of paying for the brides in middle east has arisen…………..(denying brides for innocent and not wealthy bridegrooms in middle east)

  4. The real mischief monger ultimately is the female
    parent!
    well said wannabe
    the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world

  5. Its good to see this especially against such ossified practices but defiance of even good innocuous practices (like adding the name of husband) shows your ego which can damage partnerships

  6. You called Anna Hazare campaign as disguise for his political ambition. Can we call your this article also as having some hidden purpose

  7. Moron – are you some jilted fan or admirer of 4uchitraji? Is that why you are always getting so idiotic so as to grab attention? Don’t you have anything better to do that pass such moronic comments?

  8. Anna is also claiming that he wants to destroy / engrave the corrupt system with a powerful lokpal .But you are doubting his intentions and saying its a disguise to achieve political ambitions. I would like to remind you before you point a finger on some one please check there will be four fingers pointing towards you ( I heard there were some allegations of child labour against you/mother .So how come this article comes from you .Cant we call it a disguise … If you are not able to encourage or doubt his reforms please be silent .Please dont discourage someone who can bring some badly needed changes/reforms to our corrupt ossified system if you cant contribute in a meaningful way , what ever the intentions of Anna Hazare & party. First lets come together to bring in a powerful effective Lokpal .Then we can think of anything else including intentions of Anna & Co and Suchitra & Co. I would also like to support you what ever your intentions if you want to fight against female foeticide though I am a male ………………….

  9. Thank you Anna for writing in. We are all entitled to our opinions- i dont claim to be right- i merely express them as my own. Its what i beleive

    As for the child labour allegations- it was a completely untrue and false allegation. There was never a case and the then Labour Minister Mr Nawab Mallik issued a correction and an apology on National Television and in the press – did you not read or hear that? I was also asked then asked to help the Maharashtra Labour Ministry to help combat crimes against children at that same meeting!
    Since i have no political ambitions i promised to do it in my own way privately without joining any party or staging dharnas. I put my money where my mouth is. I like many other women and many of my friends in India would rather feed or educate or rescue a child than wave flags and carry torches

    Thank you for writing in. I think this is your first time here?

  10. Sorry Suchitraji if you are hurt . I have never said its the truth . I just mentioned it as allegation ( some thing said on you. whether its false or true is not the matter .I havent said the allegations were true/proved ) . The bottomline is whatever the intentions of anyone we should support movements what is good for a society . As mentioned by moron , the need of the hour is a powerful antivirus like Lokpal which can tackle the powerful viruses which have corrupted and slowed our system.I am not saying with the Lokpal corruption will completely vanish .There will be evolving viruses which will adapt .thats the reason we need a powerful independent Lokpal which can evolve and adapt to new evolving viruses rather than a Lokpal/antivirus controlled by the corrupt politicians/viruses ………

    There are courts to prove the allegations /to prove innocence .Even if Anna Hazare & Co threaten a case on you for defaming for making allegations you need to provide apology or face the court ( which will impose a fine on you if you dont provide evidence to back your allegations) .How many cases are they going to fight and whom .If they are silent it doesnt mean they have accepted defeated.If they are going to divert their energies to keepon fighting the allegations levelled by you/others when will they have time to gather enegies/focus for bringing an effective Lokpal .Whether you support Anna & Co is not the matter ,the issue is to encourage the struggle for bringing an effective Lokpal.Well when we have no time for that wouldnt it be prudent atleast not to crticise those working for it.Indians are slow and lazy and take time to awaken but when they do no one will be able to stop it ……….

  11. Sorry- i do not support his Gandhi delusions or believe in the modus operandi of fasting and creating public unrest however noble his intentions. There are processes in place and dialogue is essential in a civilized world.
    Why only punish the corrupt lot at the top?
    Why not work his way up from the bottom of the pyramid? Fight for higher salaries for policemen bureaucratic and other government personnel- give them a life of dignity so they will not need to take bribes. What often fosters corruption is the sheer indignity of poverty- as much as the greed of the corrupt
    Create an honest environment- provide pension and welfare to the under privileged.
    Or is there no glory or opposition party patronage in that?

  12. He never said only to fight the corrupt at the top. What he said /wants is powerful independent effective Lokpal which doesnt spare anyone from top to bottom .

    I dont understand your sympathy for the corrupt at the top . Are you an agent for them. Corruption at the lowest level may have the reason of poverty . Please dont divert the issue .The issue is to fix the corrupt system .How long are you going to raise salaries if the hungry are not satisfied .If they find it insufficient they have the option of quitting and finding a different job/business .Have they got any moral right to take others money for the reason they find salary insufficient to finance their luxuries, buy many homes ,have illicit relationships and leave crores of money to their children who will be spoilt and lazy and rape and kill the innocent through their rash driving.They should stop depending on the easy money and work hard to earn their luxuries rather than steal someone else money.

    Presently, it appears all the wrong people may be beaurocrat or political leader have occupied powerful positions are sitting at wrong places..They are haughty and stubborn, not amenable for corrections. They are dwelling in fools paradize that they can only think right and others can’t. These people are grown with skewed mentality. Mistakes -mistakes -mistakes everywhere. They are true algebric clowns who think that two minuses makes plus formula is applicable everywhere. They have went back on the agreement made with the civil society and pushing their own version with lot of safeguards for the corrupt . When the processes and dialogue has failed he just used his fundamental right to protest .Public unrest is the unexpressed anger of the common man which lay hidden all these years against the corrupt system .

    Cant you see how honest and honorable are our leaders

    PC- 2G scam,
    Pratibha Patil & Family- Allegations of 300 cr bank loans
    Sheila- CWG scam.
    None of them is held accountable
    ManMohan Singh – says everything is safe after Fukushima disaster without ordering safety audits)
    Rahul Gandhi- thinks he will become future Pm and hence doesnt want to be answerable /responsible/accountable to Lokpal. .so many built in safeguards.
    kalmadi,Raja- in jail.Worst thing is Manmohan defending them including PC
    Botched attempt to bring in a CVC who will work for them /whose integrity in question.

    The current dishonour faced by the Army Chief forcing him to accept their verdict on his age when the established standard/practice has been the matriculation certificate in case of any dispute .When the above stupid people are not held accountable/made to resign why should he be forced a premature retirement when he has the evidence……

    Do you think they will let the processes in place function without manipulating it to their advantage.Do you think they will be amenable to dialogue. Once the movement was at the peak they let the anger cool by delaying tactics of dialogue .they went back on what they agreed with the civil society .They have shown cleverness (they are repeating the same behaviour though it was in a different way rather than correcting it) rather than intelligence for the welfare of society ………

  13. Anna,

    you are right their lokpal is a jokepal. But still we need to make a start somewhere ……If Anna &co havent started this movement I doubt even this jokepal would have been brought in………

  14. I still cant get over how you can put your skewed arguments regarding the corrupt at top. Dont you feel ashamed of the present inefficient system … Whats the use developing your skills/talents when you support our corrupt .May be its best you write only comics rather than think of our country ………..

  15. Doesnt the scenes on our Indian roads shake you . We have people/minister who say its ok for the food grains to rot in godowns since it would be a burden on PDS to distribute it ………… What is the value of becoming a well known person/married/divorced to an internationally known director when you feel for the corrupt at the top but cant feel for those affected by the corrupt at the top

  16. It is often the educated,skilled and talented ones
    that turn corrupt when they acquire power.Education
    does not guarantee honesty.It only generates greater
    crookedness to swindle and loot.Socially boycott
    the known corrupt.This should begin in your own
    home,village and town.The corrupt must be identified
    and shunned.don’t mix with them.don’t honour them.
    show open contempt and disrespect without being
    violent.make it difficult for the ill gotten wealth to be
    put to any use by these individuals.
    Road circuses and slogan shouting are vulgar and
    selfdefeating.
    there has to be a moral movement.not mass movement.

  17. As someone who is struggling with infertility, this is heart breaking. Strange are the ways of nature…whats a boon to one is burden to another…

  18. You don’t like me Anna? OMG- you’ve broken my heart ha ha. Its giving me such a complex maybe i should stop expressing my views on my own blog and allow you to instead 🙂

  19. Thank you Moron. I had requested you to quit a long time ago. You have now saved me the bother of blocking you and your moronic comments on my blog 🙂

  20. moron is now Neo Moron to combat Agent X 4uchitra and deliver her from this delusional world of Matrix..:-) 🙂 🙂 🙂

  21. it is probably at the bottom of the rung moron is in
    and is craving for attention being jealous of those at the top’
    despatch him to anna’s blog!fools should not be allowed to parade as geniuses!

  22. It is absolutely disgusting to read comments from morons.Such serious topics should not be handled by morons.

  23. If I had a boon like the magic lamp and the genie , I would like to wish to put Suchitra Krishnamurthy in the dock and me acting as Devil’s Advocate-Karan Thapar 🙂 🙂 🙂

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