Womb of the mother becomes the Tomb for Girl Child
Right from the birth, the girls are discriminated against and boys preferred. Kill them in the womb or if it does not succeed, abandon them after they are born. Shocking as it may sound; this is what many parents are worried about having a daughter. Daughter is an unwanted lot virtually, especially in Indian Society. The arrival of son in the family is greeted with jubilation. The daughters on the other hand are considered a burden. This blatant bias cannot only be attributed to poverty, illiteracy or superstition or rural neighborhoods. After the invention of ultrasound scan, the girls are not allowed to take birth and infanticide has been converted into female foeticide. Killing female child in the womb is also a sort of terrorism. The womb of the mother becomes the tomb for girl child. Scientifically female foeticide is a process in which the sex of the infant in the mother’s womb is detected. If this test is affirmative about the girl child, then it is aborted. India is the only country in this world in which this crime is prevalent.
History reveals that the women have been ill treated by the men, their own family and by the society on the whole. At one time she was called a Goddess and at the other she was considered subservient to the males. In Vedic era, birth of a male was more welcome than the birth of a female child. In Rig Veda, there is a prayer for the birth of a son. In Brahamanas, the birth of a son was greatly favored. The Atharvas Veda clearly mentions the unpleasantness at the birth of girl as it was prayed to the god that kindly grant birth of boy here and grant the birth of a girl some where else”. Manu did not treat women at per with men. In Mughal period, the women was considered an object of contempt and ridicule, a play for sex and a human machine to be employed for procreation of male lineage.
In British Period, in the year 1813, the Christian missionaries carried out various religions propagation thoughout the British India. They condemned the various evils committed on the women, as early marriage, sati system, Pardah system, infanticide etc. but the gender bias could not be abolished. Female infanticide continued to be practised to avoid socio-economic responsibilities.
After Independence,our constitution makers tried their best to provide equal status to women in every field in the form of fundamental rights but this equality is still in the statute. It is ridiculous to enjoy the right to life provided in our constitution unless implementation thereof becomes reality.
With the conversion of infanticide into female foeticide, the foetus of the sex is identified, then the females are put to sleep. Indian women are still burnt for bringing insufficient dowry, tormented for not providing money to their alcoholic husbands and raped by men to satisfy their lust. The Government of India passed the Medical-Termination of Pregnancy Act in 1971. It provided that where the life of the women was in danger, the foetus may be terminated. Illegitimate abortions were carried out in the garb of checking the growth of population.
Some enterprising doctors discovered the commercial possibilities of the device of not having girls and the people came to know that abortion was possible, so sex determinaton clinics and the test carried out by them multiplied.
Ultimately in 1989, a few women organizations got together against test, they started with a signature campaign which they appended to a petition presented to the then prime Minister. Their efforts paid dividends in the form of the prenatal diagnostic Act(1994). The main objective of this act was to prevent diagnostic techniques for determination of the sex of the child in mother’s womb and thereby check female foeticide. As per the law, any clinic found guilty of conducting sex determination tests may be imprisoned for 3-5 years and fined up to Rs. 10,000/-.Such doctor’s name could be struck off from the medical council of india as well. But this evil practice is still followed; rather, killing of girl child in the womb has increased. The crime has increased mostly in urban areas. Women prefer sons as it increases their status in the family; otherwise leading a discouraged and humiliated life. After the birth of a daughter Poonam was made to undergo ultrasound test and aborted four female foetus. She is now carrying a son confirmed through an ultrasound test. Poonam’s health deteriorated due to repeated abotions but she says, “if a son had not been confirmed this time, I would have aborted again.”
There are roughly more than a thousand ultrasound machines in Delhi itself. A senior official from the department of family welfare confirms that there are more than 3000 registered ultrasound centres in India. Abortion pills like M.T. pill and misprost which should not have been sold without a doctor’s prescription are available from the counter and if taken without medical guidance, these could lead to septicaema, excessive bleeding even to death.
But it is reality that the sex determination tests are still carried out under the blanket of the sonography and ultrasonography which are carried out to ensure that foetus is developing properly. The biggest culprits in practising this evil are Delhi, Punjab, Chandigarh, Andman And Nikobar Islands, Dadar and Nagar Haveli, Daman And Diu, Orissa, U.P., Gujrat, Bihar, Andhara Pradesh, West Bengal, and Tamil Nadu.
Gurdaspur 649 Kapurthala 501
Jalandhar 831 Hoshiarpur 466
SBS Nagar 479 Fatehgarh Sahib 871
Ludhiana 869 Moga 893
Firozpur 893 Bathinda 865
Mansa 880 Patiala 888
Amritsar 884 Taran Taran 898
Rupnagar 913 SAS Nagar 878
Haryana 877 Sikkim 889
Delhi 868 Chandigarh 818
Orissa 905 Andhara Pradesh 912
Tamil Nadu 915 Gujrat 918
U.P. 908 Bihar 990
Dadar and Nagar Haveli 775 Daman and Diu 618
Nikobar Islands 878 West Bengal 816
Census Commisioner’s office and the union ministry of health released a report on adverse child ratio, which is a frightening indicator of prevalent prejudice against the girl child in our otherwise progressive nation. Sharpest drops in the sex ratio are shown by some of the most affluent pockets in various cities. U.N. has urged India to take effective measures to stop female foeticide.
There are various cases that lead to this shameful crime. The son craze is still the important factor that most of the India suffers from. Female foeticide has risen to alarming figures because women themselves become a collaborator in such crimes perhaps as they know from their personal experience that the life ahead for an unwanted new born girl will be a sub-human existence since they have lived this hell themselves. They do not want their offsprings to face the same fate. It is indeed sad to admit that the entire womanhood is suppressed so badly that most of them are resigned to their fate. They are sold and purchased like cattle. It is ironic that in india where woman was worshipped as a goddess, she is often treated no better than cattle. Failure to ensure equitlable access to basic requirements for development like education has led to deeper crisis in the society.
When this is estimated that two third of Indian children who do not attend schools are girls, the country cannot boast of its commitment to equality. Basically Indian society is male dominated. It seriously undervalued the status of women in the society. Man occupies a superior status and woman as his appendage. It is her father before marriage, husband after marriage and son after husband’s death who dictates her the extent of her rights.
The Hindu succession Act- 1956 though gives women the right to succession on her father’s property but if she puts claim on it she is socially boycotted or isolated. In Hindu religion a son only can give offering to the ancestors, perform funeral ceremonies of parents so that their souls may achieve salvation. Then there in the religious obligation over the people to carry on the vansha and is order to get the boon of a male child, a number of female foetuses are sacrificed.
Sometimes ago the case of Uma-Kunwan Singh caught a lot of attention in the media. She was the first in centuries to have survived in the village in Rajasthan, The rest were all killed. She was allowed to live for some reasons. Uma’s younger sisters too were killed. The daughters are perceived an economic and social burden on the family. The fallout however is the guiding of woman’s sexuality and consequently their freedom and mobility – since control of woman’s reproduction capacity is important a premium on her chastity is placed and her sexuality is closely guarded at the cost of her freedom. The society, family and relatives put so much pressure on the mother that she has to kill the female child in the womb or commit suicide. The woman giving birth to a girl is treated as a sinner. Mother of girls for desperation commits suicide, as we read in newspapers. The victim is fed up with torture of the mother-in-law and the husband who taunt her for the inability to give birth to a son for the family. Sons are more likely than daughters to provide labour on the farm or in a family business, earn wages and support their parents in old age. Upon marriage, a son brings a daughter in law as well as economic rewards in the form of dowry payments. In one reported case, a mother had killed nine daughters in all. The father reasoned that with merely an income of Rs. 300/-400/- a month, they could not even dream of spending Rs.30000/- on dowry. Crippling poverty is another culprit behind the menace of female foeticide. It says `’Nuturing a girl child is like watering your neighborhood plants.”
The medical practitioners offering sex determination tests have caught the pulse of the Indian people that they do not want to have female child. They are encashing to the fullest, by enriching them with slogans. A slogan says “pay Rs 70/- save Rs 70000/- later.”
Despite punitive action of authorities against errant doctors illegally providing sex detection tests, there is a sudden surge in the number of female foetuses being aborted and the baby girls are being ruthlessly dumped. Another baby was found abandoned in Gobindgarh fort here, but in her case it turned out to be blessed escape as she was adopted by parents who have four sons and have been yearing for a daughter for a long time. Not too long ago, another girl was recovered from this fort. She too was adopted by a doctor in the town who had no child of his own. Sometimes back too female foetuses were found from Rampuraphul in Bathinda which were allegedly dumped by a doctor in the town after conducting abortion. The doctor was the wife of Radiologist, Civil Hospital Rampuraphul. In the last three years, since the state government took some stern steps to check the sex ratio, over one dozen female foetuses and abandoned babies found in different areas.
Declining ratio of the girl child in India is a matter of shame for all of us individually and collectively. The districts showing decline in the number of girls are all in the progressive state of India. Female foeticide is the most gruesome and heinous crime imaginable. Society seems to be completely indifferent to it. Some ignorant persons say that ours is a free country. Why can’t people be allowed to go in for sex determination tests. There should be no denying the fact that both genders can never be equated. The females will remain what they are. You are getting rid of the unwanted, unborn, where is the problem? It cannot be believed how such a gruesome act is justified? These type of persons do not know the consequences such practices could lead to. Government officials should raid clinics of doctors time to time. Daily we read in the newspapers that girl foetuses are found in this area or that area and it is also found that many doctors continue conducting sex determination tests.
The whole society will have to take up the responsibility and make a concertrated effort to atone for its sins. The Govt. alone cannot check this menace. Every body will have to fight collectively for curbing this menace. Positive campaigns in favour of girl child should be started. Support of religious opinion makers is equally important to eradicate the belief that only son ensures the passage to heaven. All must cooperate with the Govt. to curb female foeticide. NGOS and other agencies should be involved in this fight. Stringent legal punishment will have to be linked with the possibilities of social ostracisation to contain this nightmare.
Education is the only key where by both women and girls can reduce their economic dependence. Concrete actions like education, jobs, adequate status in the society and apporopriate legal rights can only make a genuine contribution to feminine status. Education is an appropriate means to provide awareness about woman foeticide. Change in the thinking of women should be brought and without changing thinking of women, positive change cannot be brought in the society. Our society will have to follow the bani of Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, which has given importance to women by proclaiming, “so kio manda akhiye, jit janme rajan”, otherwise society wil decline very soon.
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2012, All