Dec 12, 2008

Drop Dead, Gorgeous!

"Ladka mare kambakht ka. Ladki mare bhaagyawaan ki." This is said in many parts of India for several centuries now. If this does not give you goose-pimples, here's more. "Now they no longer feed them paddy husk or poisoned milk… They stifle them with a pillow or with a cloth." So says a midwife from a non-descript village in Tamil Nadu.

So, you think all this happens in villages and slums only? Here's a news flash. An educated woman working as an IT consultant at Chandigarh has had four abortions in five years. No prizes for guessing they were all girls. Here's what she has to say. "We knew the doctor at the scan centre and went to the clinic that he suggested and had the foetus removed. The next three times were also okay, except that I got very tired and had to give up my job. My husband said having a son was more important than having a job." So go and eat your words now.

Now I hear you saying that these doctors only operate out of dingy clinics in seedy bylanes. Yeah right! Just read what Dr. Aniruddha Malpani, a famous IVF specialist and one of the most vocal pro-sex-selection activists in India, has to say on the topic of sex-selection and sex-selective foeticide. He in fact goes on to say, "Many doctors would have few or no qualms about discarding an embryo diagnosed as having trisomy 21, in the belief that a baby with Down’s syndrome will have a less than optimal quality of life. So if we allow people to choose when to have babies, how many to have, and even to terminate pregnancies if they inadvertently get pregnant, then why not allow them to select the sex of their child, if it is possible?" The Hippocratic Oath, amongst other things such as conscience or ethics or morality, just went out of the window. And he has the audacity to say that he 'only' has two daughters and is 'still happy' with them. Many thanks, Doctor!

Someone please tell Malpani that a daughter is not the same as a child with a non-curable and debilitating disability. Yet, in this society, many daughters are treated as just that. A child with a disability. The financial implication is high (dowry), the emotional angle is also high (they go away to another family, we invest so much just to lose them to another home), and they bring shame to the family anyway (molestation, rape). So, well, that seems to justify their right not to be born at all!

One cannot 'choose' the child on the basis of its sex because that is the work of Nature. Not of corrupt doctors(?) like Malpani who won’t hesitate to misuse technology for a few extra notes. Tell me, Malpani, if couples have planned for two children and both are girls, why do they try a third time? To 'balance' their family, you say! Would they still do so if both were boys, just to have a girl too and 'balance' their family? Can you answer that, Malpani? So take your 'wisdom' and stuff it up your arse. And stop the facade of being 'happy' with your girls, you filthy hypocrite! Because if it is alright for you to have only girls complete your family, it definitely is alright for everyone else as well.

Edited to add: This affects me so much more because my Dad's a doctor!

India has historically had a deficit of women compared to most other countries, but we now live in a time when a systematic extermination of an entire gender is taking place right before our eyes. Until the 1980s, women and girls were dying either of neglect or were killed soon after they were born. Today, the horrifying reality is that, thanks to 'advances' in medical technology, they are now eliminated while still in the womb. Female foeticide has become an organized crime and the ultrasound machine has mutated into an instrument of murder.

India has become an appalling story of deeply embedded and destructive patriarchal beliefs, disempowered women who have no claim on their own bodies and the active complicity of a ruthless and callous medical and social system. It is chillingly clear that the macabre practice of eliminating female foetuses spells doom for our sons as well as our daughters and is bound to have a disastrous impact on future generations.

For those girls who do make it out of the womb, survival isn't a guarantee, say child rights activists. Many die in their infancy because they are given less food and medical care than their brothers. Those who do survive will generally get less of an education, in both quality and quantity, than their brothers. Life isn't always fair to the fairer sex!


Indian Home Maker said...

Many baby girls die out of indifference and neglect. In poor rural areas this is one way to get rid of a baby girl.

Imp's Mom said...

When I was preg, relatives told me ideas or puja's to do so that I could have a boy. And I'd just look at them strangely and say it doesn't matter...I'll be very happy if I have a girl and I would see pity on their faces!

One of my aunts, refused to see her second born simply because it was a girl again... after a lot of talk and convincing did she accept the child but after 3 days! Today it is this daughter who is her back bone...I was just 8 when this happened and I remember the ruckus she created..

On the other hand, this lady who used to look after my bro when he was small, deposited a lakh in an FD in the name of her grand daughter. She was that thrilled at having a girl!

I don't know why I'm saying this here, but gender selection is a bitter truth and until this misconception dies that a girl is a liability, it will stay.

Surbhi said...

Couldn't agree more with both of you, esp. Imp's Mom. I have relatives who have had a son after two daughters, but none who've had a daughter after two sons. My Dad has two words for them - mentally sick. And they are amongst our, and my, favorite relatives. Not any more, though!
Another incident that really hurt me was when I attended my cousin sister's wedding last year. Some obscure relative walks up to my Dad and asks about the family. Suddenly, he says, "Bhai sahab, kya baat hai? 25 saal ki bititya ko abhi tak ghar bitha ke rakha hai? Kuch socha iske baare mein?" I mean, I was like right there! My Dad was so angry that my Mom actually caught his arm to prevent him hitting the b******. And my Mom, my bro and I didn't even know him. Even my Dad met him last at my parents' wedding! We left the venue just then, even though it was my first cousin and we hadn't yet reached dessert.

Imp's Mom said...

hi Surabhi, wish u and ur family a happy and a prosperous new year! May all your dreams come true :)

Surbhi said...

Hey Imp's Mom, wish you and your family (esp kiddos) a very happy and healthy 2009! Extra cuddles to the little ones!

Rahul said...

May you stay as happy as ever in the years to come...even if the world doesn't change...happy new year by the way...

Surbhi said...

Hey Rahul, thanx a ton! Keep dropping in; would love to share views with you.
Don't forget - YES WE CAN!