Heading towards an imbalanced society
Women are worshipped and revered in every form in India. For the women, these female goddesses symbolize courage and strength in the form of "Shakti", "Durga", and "Kali". But besides being the goddess, modern Indian woman is stepping ahead toward the advance world.
India has the credit of enjoying for the first time in the world the impressive record of electing a woman Prime Minister for several years continuously. Mrs. Indira Gandhi gave India a firm leadership for many years. Indian parliament gave women the right to vote without any fight by the Indian women; and currently the Indian parliament is considering reserving over 40% elected posts for the women. Furthermore, women have been increasingly getting high positions in the political as well as in the corporate and business world. Whether it's fashion or beauty contest, education, services, or any other field, Indian woman is going places.
But all these developments cannot hide one of the worst impending "gender" crises India is facing: the rapid reduction of women's population.
The provisional figures of Census 2001, which have scared the Health Department, show that the sex ratio in the age group 0-6 has declined sharply from 945 females per 1000 males in 1991 to 927 females today. Even the 927:1000 ratio does not tell the whole truth. For, the sex ratio is actually worse than the national average for the 0-6 age group in Himachal, Punjab, Chandigarh, Uttaranchal, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, UP, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Daman and Diu. The general population ratio is even worse in places like Chandigarh (773/1000), Delhi (821/1000), and Punjab (874/1000). Health experts say these are some of the lowest sex ratios in the world.
The sudden fall in the number of girls in the youngest age group is believed to be proof of the increased incidence of sex selective abortions or female feticide. Most of these abortion are the result of the misuse of sex determination technologies such as ultrasound scanning and amniocentesis. These medical technologies are very useful to check the health and other status for the fetus, but are proving hazardous in practice.
The most dramatic fall in the child sex ratio has taken place in the above states where clinics specializing in sex determination and sex-selective abortions are in existence for at least two decades. But now, such clinics have mushroomed all over. If amniocentesis was the first medical technology which was widely misused for the abortion purposes in the start; today we have ultrasound scanning as a simpler and more popular alternative.
What else? We have made many more technological advancements. Now we have option of 'selective conception'. These new technologies now feed the 'need for a son.' In previous techniques we had facility of detecting the sex of the fetus leading to its selective abortion, but new technologies aim to give the couple a choice of sex selection. The X-Y sperm separation and the Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis are done as early as three days after fertilization.
So If you have the money to spend, you have more options : selective abortion or selective conceiving.
It is a common saying in India, Ladka marey kambakth ka; Ladki marey bhaagwaan ki (fool who loses his male child and the fortunate one who loses a girl child). Obviously, it shows the gender bias in our male dominated, male governed society. Although a woman is worshipped and revered but she is always blessed for ashtaputra / or putra-vati-bhava. Which shows the crave for male child in the society. But the question is if everybody wants to have boys, who is going to marry them? Don't u think we are heading towards an imbalanced society?
It has been medically proved that the female fetus is biologically stronger than the male. If both receive equal amounts of medical care and nutrition, the chances of the female child surviving are brighter. But if the family or the husband just want a baby boy, then who cares for her?
What is the woman's role in all this ? Whether in choosing her spouse, contraception methods and the first pregnancy, place of delivery etc. Does her choice or decision really make a difference? Or is it really possible for a woman to decide about having an abortion, If she has to survive as a daughter-in-law in the family. Let's assume if her husband supports the born to be female child, even then she will prefer to have a male child in order to get respect in her in laws family, in order to save her marriage.
If woman doesn't have any say in this matter don't u think that this forced female feticide is an act of violence against women? So where is the cure of this disease ? with Law ?
Doctors in India believe two million fetuses are killed every year through abortion, simply because they are female. Although It's an illegal practice but with the increasing availability of sex determination tests it is impossible to keep track of such cases.
There is little doubt that in India the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act 1994, has not been very effective. The facts revealed by the census speak for themselves. The sex-selective abortions are also highly profitable for the much of the medical community, and they are able to get legal or punitive action hindered through political pressure or by bribing the local police authorities. Besides the enforcement of law, what can be the other options to get rid of this ? Perhaps education! Of both men and women. Old traditions die with urbanization and education. In much of urban India arranged marriages, caste-marriages and dowry are slowly but surely declining among the middle classes. So one method is to educate men in India and other countries so that they could accept girls as being the same as boys. Educated man can well support the woman. This may be the effective way to prevent female infanticide.
As far as women's education is concerned it's a fact that there is less female infanticide in those states where female literacy is high. Educated women are less likely to stand up for abuse. Education brings about dialogue and hence the society could be changed for the better.
Government should make arrangements to provide free school education to the female child so that the poor parents don't take their girl child's responsibilities as a 'burden' . Female education should be actively publicized and promoted.
Although the new legislation has banned sex detection and has made it illegal , It remains to be seen how effective it will be in stemming sex selection? Mere restriction on misuse of technology will not solve the issue but we must address the root causes of the problem otherwise these will go underground where they will continue to flourish and the problem will remain the same rather further increasing.