Female foeticide: We live in a society where families feel ashamed when a girl child is born. They feel the need to live their entire life with the burden of the daughter’s marriage and safety. I have personally heard people say that if a family has a daughter, the members live with bent shoulders because the pride of having a son is nipped in the bud by the paraya dhan embodied by the daughters.
But some people differ.
In a wonderful initiative towards ending female foeticide and ">gender discrimination, a Pune doctor who runs maternity-cum-multispeciality hospital waives hospital fees and organises a celebration each time a girl is born in the hospital. Not only this, but the hospital also provides a ride home to the mother and the newborn daughter in a decked auto upon discharge. The vaccinations for female babies are also free of cost in this hospital
Speaking with Press Trust of India, Dr Ganesh Rakh said that he began the initiative when he came across the fact that family members don’t come to see him if they have a girl child. He also quoted a government survey that revealed that in the last 10 years, more than six crore cases of female foeticide have happened.
The initiative by Rakh sets up a good example for society to value girl children. It encourages families to not consider a girl child as a burden. It rather calls for a celebration at the birth of every girl child. It is not a hidden fact that India accounts for the most missing females in the world. According to UNFPA’s report, one in three girls missing globally due to sex selection is from India. Our country accounts for 46 million out of 142 million missing daughters globally.
In such a situation, having initiatives that celebrate the birth of a girl child can definitely meet the gap between the desire of a male child and criticism of a female child. Moreover, such initiatives will also raise awareness in society that female children are no less than male children. Female children are equally a pride for the family as male children. It is just our mindset shrouded by patriarchy that makes us discriminate against female children.
Because of our degraded mindset, female children do not get the life that they deserve. They are always seen as a burden and so are not allowed to exercise the freedom and rights invested in them by our constitution. It is not without reason that the female literacy rate in our country is lower than the average literacy rate of the world. Parents who give birth to a girl child refrain their daughters from seeking education, employment and independence. They prepare them since childhood to be a better wife. In the bid to get rid of the burden soon, some parents tend to marry off their daughters at a small age and this is why India is the breeding centre for child marriage.
But if parents’ mindsets change, they will allow their daughters exposure to opportunities in life. They will raise them like sons, make them independent and be proud of them. I am not saying that parents will forget the difference between a daughter and a son and start measuring daughters in masculine terms. They will recognise the importance of women in society and so encourage their daughters to be a contributor to the betterment of the country, family and society.
So, we need more people like Dr Rakh to spread awareness about gender equality at birth. Especially hospitals need to be vigilant because practices like sex selection and abortion of female foetus happen within their walls. Moreover, families too need to start cleaning up the mess that patriarchy has created in their mindset through male child preference. Every child is cute, important and a matter of pride and happiness, be it of any gender.
Views expressed are the author's own.