The human sex ratio is the number of males for each 100 females in a population. A sex ratio above 100 means there are more males than females; a sex ratio below 100 means there are more females than males; a sex ratio of 100 means there are equal numbers of females and males in the country. The sex ratio in India as per a study conducted in 2015 by the UN is 106.98, which means there are nearly 7 more males to every female in the country.
In India, the trend of decline in the Child Sex Ratio (CSR), defined as number of girls per 1000 boys between 0-6 years of age, has been unabated since 1961. While it was 945 in 1991, it declined to 927 in 2001 and further to 918 in 2011. This scenario can only be described as alarming for it is indicative towards women disempowerment. The Modi Government thus introduced the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign as a step towards prevention of gender biased sex selective elimination, ensuring survival and protection of the girl child, and ensuring education and participation of the girl child in the people of India.
Amidst this comes the news that a newspaper in India, a daily in Kerala, Mangalam, has offered its readers scientifically unfounded tips for ensuring they conceive boys instead of girls. The tips include bizarre steps like eating more and facing West while sleeping! No, you can’t counter India’s gender discrimination; and yes, the article published by Mangalam is dumb and disrespectful. The sex of the child, experts suggest, is based on the chromosome of the father.
The boy-bearing tips given by the newspaper are as follows:
- Pregnant women should eat more;
- They should face West while sleeping;
- The potential mother should not sip breakfast;
- To have sex only on certain days of the week when the male sperm is supposedly stronger; whereas science says that a baby can be male if the fertilising sperm carries a Y chromosome.
The sad part is that Kerala, along with Puducherry, stands in the forefront where the CSR is still better. To think that in a woman-centric State such an article is being published is indeed disheartening. Though the article will not have much outreach as it is in the local language (Malayalam), the truth is that it is only one of the many articles, “remedies” and old wives’ tales that offer ways to avoid having a female baby that are doing the rounds both in hard copy as well as the cyber world.
Feminist Indian website The Ladies Finger that translated the article from the original Malayalam language, wrote sarcastically, “With all these inconvenient laws regarding sex determination, it is a relief that there is finally a fool-proof checklist to follow for boy-bearing.”
They further added: “It shows that attitudes like this still flourish despite initiatives taken by the Indian government, NGOs and health workers. The message isn’t going through: people still value boys more than girls.”
Bizarre and Cruel Acts for the Sake of a Boy Child
The article published in Mangalam is just words in print. It is very unfortunate but in India, people go to the most extreme and cruel lengths for the sake of a boy child.
- Even though sex determination has been made illegal as per the provisions of Prenatal Diagnostic Act, there are a number of such cases where sex is determined and abortion conducted in case of a female child.
- Female infanticide, where a new born girl child is killed, is also very prevalent in India.
- People also adopt bizarre methods to get a boy child. In Meerut, in 2015, a man abducted a four-year-old boy and handed him to a tantrik couple. The little boy’s body was pierced with pins and he was injected sedatives and kept in a large wooden box before being strangulated to death. All this to ensure a male child for his abductor. This is just one of the many incidents that occur in India very frequently.
Let’s Be The Change
The preference for boys in India has been longstanding mainly because in the past only boys could inherit property, and also parents had to pay a massive sum of money during the wedding of the daughter in lieu of dowry. But in recent times, with amendments to the inheritance laws as well as dowry having been made illegal, this preference does not seem logical let alone ethical.
Today, even women are bread winners. The only aspect that will make a difference is educating the girl child, which will see her achieve the same things as the boys in the family. Spreading awareness among the masses, especially in rural areas, is surely the order of the day.