Cultural Context

“No nation, society or community can hold its head high and claim to be part of a civilized world if it condones the practice of discriminating against women. The practice of female feticide is a national shame.”

 

– Dr. Manmohan Singh, former Prime Minister of India

A male-dominated society with a population over 1 billion, India has only 930 women for every 1000 men.

Of the 15 million baby girls born each year, 25% don’t live past their 5th birthday. 

The number of deaths of young girls exceeds those of young boys by over 300,000 each year, and every 6th

 infant death is due to gender discrimination. 

It is devastating to know there is a girl abandoned, killed either before or after birth, or abused every minute in India.

Families worship Lakshmi, the Indian Goddess of wealth, yet behind the walls of their own homes, girls are mourned at birth, unwanted as children, and victimized as adults.

 

What is the justifiable excuse behind these notions?

 

“They’re expensive to keep, you see.”

 

The age-old system of dowry still persists in most parts of India. Giving birth to a girl child automatically translates into needing to pay a hefty sum for her marriage. In addition, any kind of investment in the girl child is seen as futile, because when a woman marries, she transfers from her birth family to her husband’s family. She cannot perform cremation rights for her parents, nor would her future income contribute to her birth family’s wealth or status.

An Indian woman’s chance for health, wealth, and happiness is thwarted at every stage, beginning right when she’s a fetus. It is illegal for doctors to reveal the prenatal sex of the baby, yet many clinics violate this law, increasing the probability of gender-based abortions. If the baby does survive birth, she is treated as a liability. She is discriminated against at every stage, from her nutrition to her education and development. She is married off even before she is a fully-grown woman and then starts a cycle of discrimination yet again in her marital home, resigned to domestic violence and a low quality of life.

 

Even more telling is the story of millions of abandoned girls, as mothers do not want them, cannot afford them, or are forced to give the baby up.

 

“The girl child has left a mark in every area, from studies to sports. Saluting their accomplishments on the International Day of the Girl Child.

 

We should collectively work towards an India where there is no discrimination based on gender & where girls get all opportunities to shine.”

 

– current Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who began the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao initiative to support the girl child

Girls will be killed, abandoned, abused, and denied their basic rights until the underlying attitudes change, which requires dismantling deep rooted gender discrimination.

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