Sometimes on the way to your dream,

you get lost and find a better one.

Monday, May 9, 2011

"sad face of the girls no one wants"

Today's title is a headline from our Saturday newspaper.
The information provided has been gathered from India's latest Census.
Items in italics are direct quotes from the newspaper article.

The story is about India, in particular:
"An economically booming India is failing its daughters".

"Even the Government has accepted that it has failed to save millions of little girls."
"Everyone wants boys. A boy takes care of you in your old age."


These days many girls in India also work and earn enough to provide care for their parents in old age. Yet it is still accepted that the boys will be the carers?

"While a handful of Indian women have attained some of the highest positions in politics and business.......a deep-rooted cultural preference for sons remains."

The story goes on to describe how "despite years of high profile campaigns to address the issue", baby girls in India are still being neglected, starved and dying, while boys are welcomed and cared for.

One hospital ward holds 10 severely mal-nourished children; 9 of these are girls.
Many girls will die before they reach the age of six.

One of the reasons stated for the preference for sons is the expense involved in marrying off girls.
A girl is expected to bring a dowry when she weds, with many families going into debt to provide these.
(Also, a Hindu custom says that only boys can light their parents funeral pyres).

One paragraph describes a grandmother leaving a maternity ward with a
just-born girl wrapped in a dirty rag, disappointed because her daughter-in-law has just had a sixth daughter, but still no son.
Mothers-in-law still push or bully their daughters-in-law to produce sons.
"...the pressures to bear sons result in mistreatment of both the baby girl and the mother."

A social worker is quoted as saying, "if a woman has a boy, for a month she will be looked after. If she has a girl, she will be back in the fields in three days".

According to the article, the problem is not confined to the poorer families or areas.
"The census data shows thta the worst offenders are the wealthy states of Punjab and Haryana."

I understand that this culture is thousands of years old and probably based on their religion, but this is the 21st century and it's appalling that this type of thing still goes on.


It seems to me that one of the key factors in changing this would be to abolish the arranged marriage and dowry systems.
(Yes, I do know that in some parts of India arranged marriages are no longer the norm).
Without the need to find the money to fund a dowry, little girls could become more accepted and better cared for.

8 comments:

Kath Lockett said...

I'm no mathematician but do wonder if these people realise that if they favour boys and neglect girls, who the hell are their darling sons going to marry when they're older - each other?

The Elephant's Child said...

And of course the daughters already provide care in their parent's home while they are young and then in their in-laws house and work their little hearts out. Not just India sadly. Many, many cultures. A tragedy.

River said...

Kath; another very good point.

EC; A real tragedy that women are still seen as second class even in these modern days.

Marie said...

To follow on what Kath wrote about, it's like the one child policy they had in China, where parents strove to have a son and it has now left the country with a serious shortage of women for these boys to marry. You worry about the short sightedness of people and the fact that women are really not seen as contributing to a society in a way that is important. We are still seen as burdens, a problem to be solved.

We have a little of that going on here with some immigrant families. In Sweden it is the done thing to be told the sex of your child quite early in your pregnancy (unless you specifically ask not to know). There were people from some cultures using this information to abort females and try again for a male. It reached such proportions that there is now a policy to not reveal the sex until it's too late to have an abortion.

How sad that this thinking still persists. Sometimes it feels that we haven't come far along the path of equality.

Naturally Carol said...

It is so sad that the girls' families can't see the value in their beautiful children!

Andrew said...

Education, education and education. That is the only thing that will stop this idiocy.

R.H. said...

Men marrying men.

How bizarre.

Happy Elf Mom said...

I don't see how one could abolish the dowry system or arranged marriage as those are rather private agreements. Change would have to come from realizing that the girls have value in and of themselves. :)