I am a woman and I am writing from India. So, what is special about that, you may ask.
India is the country that gave the world the second woman prime minister (Indira Gandhi in 1966). India has sent its women to space; its women have marked their places in sports, the corporate world, Hollywood and just about everywhere else, too.
But I will not bore you with statistics and data that you can check out on your own here, here and here. The point of my post is to bring to light the reasons behind this statement. First, there are some sociocultural pieces I would like to highlight.
- In India, a girl is ‘married off’ and sent away to live with her husband and in-laws. It is called the joint-family system (couple, children, husband’s parents, sometimes even the husband’s brother’s family in some cases) opposed to the nuclear family system (couple and children). In some cases this creates a healthy emotional life for a child because he/she grows up with a lot of family around. But nevertheless, the social system views this as a tool to send away the married daughter to live with her husband’s family. The husband living with the wife’s family is not the norm and this is viewed as below the dignity for the husband and is considered unmacho. So, the daughter is never the ‘property’ of the parents, unlike the son (who brings home the daughter-in-law) and is considered the ‘property’ of the family. In a nutshell, sons are insurance and daughters are liabilities. Whew! I hope I explained this fairly well.
- So, now the income of the daughter is lost. It is spent on her husband and his family. She is not an income generator for her parents. Whereas the son is an income generator and he takes care of his parents in their old age. The parents mostly stay with the son and those who beget sons instead of daughters have a better life style, is the belief.
- Dowry is still very prevalent in India. Having a girl is definitely costly in this case. Moreover people who ask for dowry also ask for expensive weddings and lavish gifts which almost always is borne by the girl and her family. Who would want that? I think an educated boy should stand up to his parents and say that he has enough money to share half of his marriage expenses. Slowly this is happening nowadays.
- Sons are the progeny, they are responsible for family continuity and they bear the name of the family. Alas, what can a woman do who changes her name after her marriage, changes her customs, traditions and lifestyle to suit her in-laws family?
- And lastly, to save face. To say, one has a son rather than a daughter has an air of greater dignity amongst friends and relatives, it ensures a stronger hold on the society and helps one live with ‘his head held high.’ It is extremely of a higher social status to claim to be living with the son than living alone. (*Too tedious to explain why, perhaps a separate post, later on.)
There is more, too, all of which amounts to viewing daughters as liabilities and sons as assets. These factors have their roots strongly based on the tradition, culture, customs and unreasonable and illogical superstitions.
Did you know, finding out the sex of a fetus is illegal in India because abortions in cases where its a girl are so high? This has increasingly led to more female infanticide.
The girls of India will be safe only if personal attitudes change. Laws could be created but people will always find ways to break them and/or work around them.
The point is, you and I and women all around the world need to feel confident about being a woman, about begetting a girl and creating a strong woman of her. There needs to be a revolution in the minds of people. It is about achieving, about strength, about confidence, about loving and cherishing girls (as much as boys).
Educate a boy, you educate him, educate a girl, you educate the whole family, runs the campaign in India to educate girls.
And I say: love a girl, you teach the whole world to love.
Mother’s love is the highest and purest form of love; say the ancient sages and saints of India. And when you love the girl baby (because she becomes a mother), you teach her to spread love and unify humanity which is the need of the hour of the world.
Now for some cheerful reading– Here is a wonderful story by the mother of Miss India 2009. Pooja Chopra was an unwanted girl and her mother had to choose between her husband (and his family) and the future Miss India.
Guess whom she chose when her baby girl was just 20 days old!? Isn’t this an inspiration to want a girl?
What are some of the Social Evils still present in your country?What are your views regarding eliminating them?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by The Alchemist, our Indian mother writing from Chennai, India. Her contributions to the World Moms Blog can be found here. She also rambles at The Alchemist’s Blog.