Few days back, I was passing by my neighbourhood when I saw a couple (whom I have known since childhood) in their 60s were distributing sweets to their friends. They looked overjoyed. On inquiring, I got to know that one of their daughters has given birth to a baby boy and other daughter has become mother of a baby girl. For our convenience, let’s give name ‘X’ to the girl who brought the girl child to this hypocrite world and the girl who gave birth to the baby boy, let us name her ‘Y’.
As that news was worth sharing, the couple informed all their acquaintances about the two little champs. I also joined the crowd to congratulate them. But I was taken aback at the responses of the people of elder generation who were supposed to be there to felicitate the couple. Under mentioned are few of the responses which pushed me to the abyss of thoughts. Some said, “It’s great that Y got respite in her very first attempt. X should not get disheartened. God will bestow his blessings on her and her husband. She will surely get a baby boy in the next time. “
While others reacted by saying “Y has always been a very obedient and down to earth girl. Because of her karma, God has blessed her as she has never hurt her elders. Whereas, the plight of X is attributed to her disobedience, her reluctance towards her parents’ decision (like going for inter caste marriage against her parents’ will). The almighty should bless her next time as he is not so stone hearted.”
Whilst, some showed their indifference towards this particular topic.
Some even felicitated specifically X for bringing goddess Lakshmi to life in the form of her daughter as they think girls are born to only lucky parents.
One of the most ridiculous and absurd response was given my some self proclaimed expert which goes somewhat like this: “Next time, when X conceives, take her to Mr. Magical Sex-Converter Baba/Tantrik (Nomenclature is done by me after knowing his business), who would give X a tablet, taking which there will be no chance that X will give birth to baby girl. Even the birth of my only son, after five daughters is attributed to baba’s medicine. He is an incarnation of Lord Shiva himself. X must go to him.”
I could not believe my ears to hear this from a graduate lady. In the era of MOM, Nirbhay, INS Kamrota etc., when sex selection is not possible for medical science, how can a tablet prepared by some unlettered Tantrik convert the set of XX chromosomes to XY ? See the height of superstition in this so called educated society. This superstitious society has given birth to these barbarian and primitive tantriks. Our illogical thinking leads to the flourishing of their business.
Why can’t these blind-believers understand that the chances are equal for the baby being a boy or a girl? I.e. it is unbiased. If after consuming the tablet, you deliver a male child, your trust for that Baba gets a thrust and you become a volunteer for encouraging others to consult him. And if still you deliver a baby girl, you start blaming your ‘karma’. The paradox is that highly educated people (even some doctors also) follow these kinds of bullshit practices.
Here, I do not intend to highlight the superstition or the use of banned practices like sex selective abortion and pre natal sex determination. My main purpose is to analyze the perception of society towards girl child. At the same time, I would like to throw some light on the reason behind the usage of these practices. The answer is short and simple. People do not want a girl child. Again, the next question arises, why do they not want a girl child? The answer to this question has many issues attached to it. Let us try to reach to its root.
When I asked some elderly people the reason for the hatred towards a girl child, I got very weird responses. Some of which are under mentioned:
- A girl is an appendage on the family. She cannot remain self dependent. She has to be fed unnecessarily till her marriage (after that her husband will take care of her).
- A girl is an asset pertaining to others (‘Paraya Dhan’ as we say it in Hindi language). She will get married and will go to her husband’s home. We will have to bear the expenses of her upbringing. What will we get in return once she gets married? Nothing. In addition to that, we will have to give dowry (or ‘stri-dhan’ as we call it in some region of the country just to put a veil on the evil tradition of the society) to get her wedded to a good guy. Instead, a boy is a breadwinner of the family. Her wife will bring happiness (in the form of dowry, I say) to our home. In short, a boy is a source of income and a girl is just a source of wastage of money and resources. In terms of marketing, ROI (Return on investment) is nil in case of a girl.
- The happiness and pride of parents vary in direct proportion with the growing age of a son (and in inverse proportion in case of a daughter). While the tension and apprehension of parents vary in direct proportion with the growing age of a daughter (and in inverse proportion in case of a son) as girls are nowhere safe and secure nowadays.
- A boy will carry forward our dynasty I.e. the surname of our family will continue to be in existence even after our demise. A girl will change her surname after her marriage. The existence of our dynasty will be in danger if we do not have a son.
I say, the reasons mentioned above are completely illogical. Utter non-sense it is. My direct conjecture to these statements of our narrow-minded public goes like this –
You say a girl is an appendage. I say, she is not. Educate her. Give her training so that she develops skill to get an employment so as to sustain herself and her family. And she will not be an appendage anymore.
You say she is an asset pertaining to others. I say, she is your own progeny. You have every right on her even after her marriage. It’s your thinking which makes her a ‘paraya dhan’. It’s you who think ROI on a girl is nil. I say, ROI on an uneducated and unemployed girl is nil (that too if you measure ROI in terms of money) because she sustains herself on the income of her father (before marriage), her husband (after marriage) and her son (after her husband’s retirement). If she is employed, definitely she will help you financially throughout her life.
You say a girl is nothing more than tension. She is vulnerable every time and everywhere. I say your mentality is responsible for her plight. It’s your mentality which passes on to your son who rapes a girl. It’s you who blame your daughter when she needs your sympathy, support and encouragement the most to fight back against the injustice. It’s you who appreciate your son when he chops off the wings of the dreams of his sister/wife/daughter, when she tries to fly.
Is it not you who ask your daughter to develop forbearance? Is it not you who preach your daughter to tolerate the wrath of her husband as he feeds her? Is it not you who give no importance to a home-maker? Is it not you who teach your daughter to bear every atrocity without complain? Is it not you who teach your daughter to serve her husband till her last breathe? Is it not you who teach your daughter to give least importance to herself as she is a ‘female’? Is it not you who teach your daughter that weeping throughout her life is what she is destined to? Is it not you who teach your daughter to remain indebted to her father/husband/every male character in her life because as per your thinking, she is unproductive (not in terms of fertility though)? And again, is it not you who teach your son to disrespect women and that they do not deserve to be treated well? Is it not you who encourage your son to use physical strength over trivial issues to control her whenever she raises her voice against the injustice done by him? Is it not you who say that a male should always dominate and a female should always bear the dominance of men? Is it not you believe that the control of a woman’s life should always remain in a male’s hand? Is it not you who develop the wide perceived thought of superiority of male character and inferiority of female character in your children’s mind right from their childhood? Is it not you who is rotting the mentality of the next generation? I leave these contentious questions for your introspection.
I suggest, do not be biased in the upbringing of your son and daughter. Always treat your daughter in the same way as you treat your son and vice-versa. If you teach your daughter to cook, to clean the home, ask your son to do the same. If you ask your son to go to market, banks, post offices, to drive a car, teach your daughter to do the same. If you educate your son, educate your daughter also, in the same way. Do not ask your son to protect his sister or to take his wife’s responsibility. Do not preach your daughter to seek protection from his brother or that one day, she will become her husband’s responsibility. Instead, teach both of them to bear their responsibilities themselves. Make both of them self dependent. Provide the same freedom to your daughter as you give to your son and impose the same restrictions on your son as you impose on your daughter.
The idea behind is that, if a boy or a girl observes that they are always being treated with equality, a boy will never think himself superior and a girl will never think herself inferior. Neither will a boy ever learn to disrespect women as he has never seen this discrimination since his childhood. He will pass the same thinking to his progeny and also to his peers (Same is the case with a girl). The perception that a woman is just an object to fulfill the sexual desire of men needs to be changed. And it’s you who have to do it.
You say that you will have to give dowry for a girl’s marriage. I ask why the social evil of dowry still prevails in the society. It’s because of you only. You have been supporting it in some form or other. That’s why it is still in prevalence. I ask what you save for her marriage, why don’t you spend the same for her education which will eventually lead to her financial independence. If she is educated and financially independent then she will not let you give dowry for getting her married. Neither she will get ready to marry a boy who requires money from her parents to marry her nor will she tolerate any kind of atrocity silently.
You say a boy will carry forward your dynasty. I ask can he do it alone. No. Neither a girl alone can. Both are equally responsible to do the same. And coming to the point of the change of surname, I am sorry to say but it’s again you who have started it and have been supporting it till date. The change of last name is completely based on girl’s discretion. Make her aware of her legal rights.
Listening to various notions of people about marriage and pregnancy, I have been able to draw an analogy between education system and marriage (Being a nerd myself, couldn’t come out with better comparison).
Here it goes….
When a girl (or boy) hits puberty (to be precise, menarche in case of girls), she (or he) becomes eligible for the course called marriage. Wedding is the registration for the course. Intercourse can be thought of as filling the form of an exam called pregnancy. If she conceives, both boy and girl have successfully taken the test. Now comes the most dreadful and the most awaited time- Declaration of Result.
Case I– If she delivers a boy child, the credit is given to her husband and both of them are declared as “PASS”. Appearing for the exam again entirely depends on the couple’s discretion.
Case II– If she delivers a girl child. The BLAME is given to her (and not to her husband though not in his control but the sex of the child depends on him). Now, what next? The couple is advised to take SUPPLEMENTARY exam. I.e. they have to appear for the exam one more time. If again, it’s a girl, then again supplementary exam and the couple now is caught in the vicious cycle. This cycle goes on till either the husband or the wife uses some birth control technique or the wife hits menarche. In both the conditions, they are declared as FAIL.
The more boy child she delivers, the more percentage is secured by the couple but the number of sons should always be greater than the number of daughters as the latter is analogous to –ve marking while the former implies ‘Distinction’.
And guess what, who is the evaluator of this exam? The society itself.
This is sarcasm on the orthodox mentality of the people of the society. My opinion is just that the marriage is not only about delivering maximum number of male child. Dearth of education is mauling the lives of many females. I agree that the problem is deep rooted and mere delivering speeches won’t help solving it. The time has come to act now. Take an initiative to change not the world’s but your perception towards sex discrimination. This change will definitely destroy the social evils gradually. Your little effort can bring commendable changes. I am not here to play a blame game. Neither to appreciate someone. I am not concerned with anything about these social evils but their consequences as they have left no life untouched. Let the bygones be bygones. There is a dire need to oust the retrograde mentality at this juncture. My motto is just to kindle a revolution in the minds of the youth and dynamic generation which has the capability to bring the required revolutionary change. If the change is desired, it has to be brought by the people of the same society which started it. Take a stand and burn the social evils in the hearth of your aggression (when put for the betterment of the society). Trust me. It is possible. The change is gradual and inevitable. Spread the message and enlighten some lives.
Live and let live. Stay happy. Stay blessed.