Thursday, December 06, 2007

It is a girl

Growing up as an only girl child in a country almost famous for infanticide and foeticide was an unusual experience.
I still remember when I was about four and when people expected that my parents would have another child, it was a rare treat to watch all the nosy aunts gape in surprise when my parents said that I was the only one they would ever have.
I am happy that they are not the only set of parents who raised an only girl child. My best friends Ameya and Neha are single children as well.
I think it is not just lack of education that leads families to kill unborn girls.
It takes ages of grime that has settled on their minds and passed on as a piece of redundant belief.
Just like religion, which I think is more a function of what parents believe for a very long time after birth, the "need for a son" is also a badly passed on second-hand conviction.
In India, where there is very little clearance between two people or two cars on a street, desensitization comes very easy.
Just like it does not bother us that someone stands so close to us in a local train that we can hear their breath. Or when we have people standing behind our chairs in disorganized weddings with too many guests. Or thousands of Engineers and Doctors we produce every year to add to the growing dissatisfaction of having to struggle for a better future.
Foeticide is just another thing. Like the little girls begging on streets or being sold off to pimps. Why not just kill them before they come into this world?

So many of these families who take to crime for a son, don't even have any significant wealth to pass on and the kind of parents they eventually become, after killing girl foetus, they are insufficient to raise their sons the way they should. People who kill daughters cannot raise successful,positive and happy individuals.
When your first step into parenthood begins with a murder, you kind of kill the beauty of being able to be called an "Aai" or "Baba".
It is just ironical that everyone can make babies.
Sometimes I think that the act of making one, should require a bit of mind and intelligence too. I wish nature had made provisions and programmed a clause that could check this accidental bug of manipulation that is a characteristic of human mind. A goat or a mouse would not care if it is a girl!!
It is this unfertilized state of being "animals" with a "mind" that leads to most of the crimes against humanity.

If we erase all our inherited thoughts and just think of a girl as a human being we bring into this world...
She would go to school and learn how to count the money she gets back from the shopkeeper after an ice cream cone.
She would wear two oiled braids and come home crying because someone pulls them at school.
She would hide her fallen teeth under her pillow for the tooth fairy and grin her toothless grin!
She will go to college and read poetry or philosophy :).
Or she would become an Engineer, fighting with her guy friends over how she is just as capable as them!
My critics would point out that I talk of the upper classes of society and the lower ones are plagued by Marriages and Dowry. Even then, killing a girl baby and keeping a foetus over and over and letting it live only when it is a boy is an unpardonable cruelty. It is better to say, " I could not get my daughter married" than saying "I killed five daughters before I had a son".

Even the United States, apparently one of the most liberal nations of the world hasn't had a woman to lead them yet but India, with her imbalanced gender ratio has had one of the most powerful women rulers of the world and she was an only girl child too!


Ameya said...

After askin some basic details like "whats ur name and what do u do?" the next question usually is "how many siblings do u have?"
To be honest I feel really proud to say "I'm the only child of my parents". It is fun to watch the mixture of disbelief and surprise on people's faces. Some people have "respect" for my parents added to this while some people have that "oh... thats sad" kind of feeling added to it! Its fun to watch all!!

A few days ago,my senior Medicine proffessor,Dr. Joshi aksed me how many siblings did I have. When I told him I'm the only child and that I'm the only child and that my parents did not want another child,he looked at me and said "I want u to do one thing. I want u to go home and congratulate your parents on my behalf. They have done a very good thing".
So,althought the scenario is bad,I would say,we've not yet lost the battle...
We still have hope :)

Charu said...

Ameya: Point well taken. But the thing behind siblings goes beyond the son/daughter issue. Who cares? One younger sister is just fine, isn't it? :)

jay said...

This problem is not associated with any particular class of society. A similar article appeared in day before yesterdays - The Hindu-Pune edition (focussed on same issue observed in NRI's).

One of the soltuions to stop this might be by setting examples. We indians have a strong trait - "see and believe". More the cases of successful "one girl child" families, the more the idea will widespread. And if we give up the
attitiude of "Bhagat singh paida hona chahiye par mere ghar pe nahi, baju wale ke ghar pe!" :) we might be able to eliminate this problem sooner.

Bravo! you belong to one such family who set an example for others.

sameer said...

saee i'm particularly happy to c this blog because ur write up has more realist touch to it than feminist.i've seen many things written abt female foeticide but most of them try to spread awareness on feminist statements like ' shud b proud to b a girl','women can compete wid men in any field' etc. kinda stuff. according to me it hardly makes a difference to the parents.but a few statements used here by u have been brilliant like
-even animals wud care the same for their baby be it a girl or boy child
-accepting parenthood before registering urself as a murderer of a soul created by their own doing.
-whether its better to kill these girls before they r forced into prostitution or begging on streets??/
ya i agree wid u dat reason 4 increase in feamle foeticide is not illiteracy alone.
there are many aspects of an individual which during their upbringing gets absorbed into them unknowingly from near ones...and the generations get affected wid this conservative,pathetically obsessed approach regarding many social issues.and the most disgusting part is dat these people defend themselves wid great pride since this approach has been followed by generations above dem.

-to end it on a better note we shud also try n look on the other side of the coin..still in india women are respected and treated in much better fashion as compared to western countries in roles of a wife,daughter and mother.women power in india is growing wid each passing day..well u see the literacy rates growing and females getting better jobs...though the credit shud be given to increase in women quotas in every field but for the time being its mandatory for guys to support this effort.
i'm happy to have shaped into a realist over the years and have original views regarding social issues.
anyways its ur best blog i've seen so far.i'm proud of u my luv:)

Saee said...

Wow!! I should venture more into writing about social issues. :)
@Ameya, yes, we are really fortunate to have been brought up the way we are. I think all the apparent "holes" in the process of growing up are forgotten when I think of myself as an only child. I thank my parents for being so progressive and more for giving me the right "attitude" than all the pretty things I got as their beloved daughter.
I agree with you on the setting an example thing. We need to do a lot more than is already done and we cannot be hopeless.
I congratulate you for being such
an intelligent reader. :) You read everything that I want people to read. Yes, I am not a feminist and chauvinism of any kind is an extreme that I don't belong to. :)
And I think the world needs "intelligent" and "sensitive" doctors like you and ameya.
Love you!!

neha said...

i think (if i am not mistaken )this is the first time you have touched a social issue ...and this blog is great :)...i am proud of u !
we are seriously lucky that we have such wonderful parents...the way we have been brought up ....

now this is something reaaaallly funny but still : even before i was born my parents had decided that they would name their daughter 'neha'. when i asked them what name they had thought of if it was a boy my dad said ...mala mulgich havi hoti ani mulachya navacha amhi vicharach kela navhta there was no barsa for me ...i was 'neha' when i was born :) !!

Mandar Gadre said...

It's a good blog entry. Liked it :)

And well, about Charu's comment: I don't think the contention is between single-child vs multiple-children families.

I think when all of us start looking at people beyond their gender - as unique individuals and respect their freedom (starting from the kids), it won't be long before this situation changes.

Saee said...

@ Mandar
Yes!! It is not even really about gender equality..we have to first let the girls "be born" in order to let their parents realize about the equality!
And more than equal, they have to be complimentary.
Glad you liked it! :)

Saee said...

@ Neha
Yeah..even my mom had thought about my name! I think our parents represent an essential minority in India..but since the three of us have kind of grown up together we never looked at them as "minority" :)
Thanks for the comment. :)

शिरीष said...

I am pretty late for posting my comments.
Female foeticide is the highest crime on this planet.It is shame on our society that we still have such people around us.This problem should not be viewed as a feminist problem.
We should always remember that we came in this world because we have a mother who gives us birth.We respect motherhood and sing all sort of praises for motherhood in our prose and poetry and on the other hand we have a social wish that we all should have sons and not daughters which is ridiculous.
The male and female do not compete with each other but are on the contrary are complimentary to each other.Each one is incomplete on it's own.
God has done a wonderful job by creating daughters.They are so cute and affectionate! I thank God who blessed me with one! Much can be written on this but instead of comments i will post it on my blog.