In spite of over six decades of Independence, in spite of India making rapid progress in science, technology and other fields, the picture that we see of India as of now is not one that can be appreciated, especially in terms of its treatment to the fairer sex. Discrimination against girl children, parents’ neglect of the girl child, illegal abortions and female infanticide are clear instances of this. The practice of female foeticide, which is illegal, is still prevalent in our country. There is one section of the Indian society which is trying its level best to be liberal in their thoughts, although aping the Western culture. On the other hand, there is another section of the society, in fact a large chunk of it, which is still in the clutches of orthodox views and thoughts.
Female foeticide is one such grave social problem arising out of the so-called “traditional thoughts” of our society. Illegal abortion of the female foetus is done due to family pressure from in-laws, husband or the woman’s parents, and the reasons for this are preference of son, girls being considered as a burden, poverty, illiteracy, social discrimination against women etc.
Consequences of female foeticide in India
Female foeticide has a serious impact on the society, in the overall growth and development of the country. Let us discuss below the effects of female foeticide in India:
Skewed sex ratio: According to 2011 census, the child sex ratio in India was 919 females to 1000 males, which declined from 927 females to 1000 males in the previous decade. Haryana, which is supposed to be one of the richest states in India, takes the top most position in skewed sex ratio. Other prominent states are Punjab, Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh etc. Skewed sex ratios are seen in almost all the states of India, except in North East India and some of South India. Since 1991, more than 80% of districts in India have shown a reducing sex ratio. Going by this, the next census by 2022 will definitely show a further reduction in sex ratios all over the country. It is horrifying to state that illegal foetal sex determination and sex selective abortion have developed into a Rs. 1000 crore industry in India.
Killing a girl child before or after she is born has an adverse effect on the sex ratio and leads to further social evils. Skewed sex ratio, which is the result of female foeticide, has other negative consequences in the society.
Shortage of girls for marriage: “Baljeet Singh, a truck driver of Haryana, gave up hope of finding a girl for his marriage from his state Haryana. He was 30. He then got married to a young girl, half of his age, from a Muslim community in Assam”
In a recent report by the Red Cross Society, there is a large number of bachelors who have crossed the marriageable age in Punjab and Haryana because of shortage of girls.
Eligible Jat boys from Haryana are seeking brides from areas which are far away from their home town, like Kerala, to change their “single” status to “married”.
These are just a few instances. With fewer women, it is interesting to notice the “Indian marriage market”. Men are willing to pay a large amount of money to get married to a girl from other states like Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, or Madhya Pradesh. The outcome is that while the parents of the girls benefit, the girls themselves have to compromise their culture, dress, language and food habits.
Trafficking and prostitution: Girls are kidnapped or stolen. They are sold and resold at varied prices. Eventually, they end up being prostitutes.
Increasing number of child marriages: Many women from poverty zones or poverty-stricken families get married before 18 years in order to survive and prevent being a burden to the family. The number of child marriage is increasing. Girls get married to men double their age. They are forced to get married to old men.
Increasing maternal deaths and ill-health of women: Killing of a foetus in the womb or abortion weakens the health of a woman. In some cases, the women have to undergo many abortions till they conceive a male child. The outcome is that there is an increasing number of maternal deaths. Women undergoing abortions are also more prone to infections and sickness.
Increase in polyandry: Munni, a young woman came, to Baghpat village, UP as a young bride, years ago. She was then forced to have sex with her two unmarried brothers-in-law and bear children from them as well. Today she is the mother of 3 sons from her husband and his brothers. Munni is still “unhappily married” but she has not filed any complaint.
There are many such incidents happening in India. In most villages in India where female foeticide is practiced, one wife lives with many unmarried brothers.
Ironically, female foeticide takes place in a country where people worship various forms of Goddesses, and where females are considered as Maa Laxmi’s incarnation and where young girls are worshipped and people touch their feet for blessings. But even then, the intentional killing of the girl child continues. Such is the double standards of our society. Right to education, health and empowerment are the fundamental rights of every Indian woman. The horrible illegal practice of female foeticide has to be stopped by harsh laws and change in the mind-set of the people. Save the girl child for a better tomorrow!!!
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