Gender Selection has been an ongoing issue in Asia for decades. In India particularly, there is an increasing gap between the numbers of boys to girls. The 2011 Indian census revealed that the sex ratio now has 927 girls under the age of 6 for every 1000 boys in that age bracket (Hodge, Amanda). In India, there are various reason why female children are seen as a burden, the following outlines as to why such value is put on males over females. Many cultural differences are at play, but the extrinsic value associated with male children has led to a series of abortions and other inhumane activities. The female babies are not protected and have no voice. The female gender needs to be protected in India by prosecuting those participating in the infanticides of female babies and those participating in dowry’s and stopping the doctors who are performing the gender-selective abortions.
A practiced wedding tradition in India, known as a Dowry is the property or money that a woman brings to her husband at the time of marriage. (Dowry, Credo). As stated in the Encyclopedia of Women’s Health, “It originated in the giving of a marriage gift by the groom’s family to the bride and then money from the bride’s parents to the groom” (Ridge, Mian). In 1961 the dowry became Illegal in India, however, dowry’s are still very much a part of Indian wedding traditions today. The laws in India are often overseen because the culture comes first, meaning that people are not prosecuted for disobeying the law, such as dowry payments. The payment made to the groom and the large costs of the extravagant weddings is one of the reasons the families in India do not want a girl. The wedding expenses can add up to a million rupees ($35 000 US) when in India the average annual income is 10, 000 rupees ($3 500 US) (Jones, Adam). The people of India can simply not afford these wedding’s and dowry payments. The laws against dowry’s need to be enforced in India to prevent the extremes that people are committing to avoid having female babies. People need to be prosecuted and put in jail for committing these crimes. The old wedding traditions of dowry’s need to be completely removed from society, such traditions have led to this twisted mind-set of valuing male babies over female. The result of gender preference of male over female is leading to infanticides and abortions by the masses of female babies.
There are many reasons behind the mind-set of the value of male over female babies in India, whether it be from Dowry’s, the male seen as a provider for his family and to preserve the family inheritance and also societal pressure to abort female fetuses, nonetheless, this has led to the infanticide of baby girls. Infanticide is illegal in India; however, in most places the nations rules don’t serve enough to overcome the nations religious and social customs, which continues to remain biased in favoring sons over daughters. (Ridge, Mian.). As Mentioned in the Case Study: Female Infanticide, John- Thor Dalhburg points out, “ in rural India, the centuries-old practice of female infanticide can still be considered a wise course of action.” Some mothers will poison their babies or smother them with a wet towel and others will strangle them or allow them to starve to death. In the same article one mother speaks about already having a daughter, when she gave birth to her second baby girl, she killed her. The mother did not consider the consequences of the law but only how the family was going to be provided for in the future. The mother never did end up getting convicted by the law, but simply went on with daily life (Dalhburg). Studies have shown that 60 percent of girls born in the Salem District of India are killed within three days of birth. (Ridge, Mian.) When interviewing a resident of India, Sheralyn Acheson adds that another way of infanticide is something called “pot babies” and it’s when families give birth to a baby girl and they immediately bury the baby alive in a pot. “Of course, this isn’t legal, but nobody says anything, because it’s a part of the ‘culture’, its sad because people see this justifiable because they can’t see how they will be able to afford to have this baby girl, and for the poor families, how they will be able to afford to eat and provide for a girl in the future”. Such catastrophes need to be stopped and the female gender needs to be protected. This raises the main question as to how such inhumane activities are still occurring. The families performing infanticides need to be prosecuted for the crime they are committing, as the issue in India is seen so lightly there needs to be firm punishment enforced on these crimes. The laws in India against infanticide need to be enforced and the government needs to take action to save the lives of these thousands of baby girls.
The most frequent way used to prevent from having a baby girl in India is the gender selective abortions. Gender selective abortions have substantially increased in the past 10 years, especially for those who have had a first-born girl. (Findlay, Stephanie.) With medical technology and unethical doctors, many couples are going through with the gender selective abortions because of the burden a female baby brings. The Indian government has made laws against the gender-selective abortions, however, the doctors are still performing such procedures. Abortions are now seen as a business for many doctors and if the money is paid, they will still perform these procedures. In India there are approximately 22.3 million illegal abortions are performed each year off the record. Such abortions are often “female feticide” (Hodge, Amanda). There are often signs in India advertising for these abortions saying, “pay 500 rupees and save 50,000 rupees later”. Suggesting that if you abort you could be saving yourself the money of an expensive wedding and dowry payment later (Ridge, Mian.). It is clear, that the value of males over female has become such a problem and is not only now effecting population ratio’s of female to male, but also is morally and ethically wrong. With abortions still happening by the masses the doctors performing such crimes need to be prosecuted and put in jail. Perhaps the technology used to determine the sex of the baby, should be banned from hospitals as well. Puneet Bedi, a Gynecologist at Apollo Hospitals in New Delhi states, “As a specialist in fetal medicine, I can tell you that no pregnant woman would suffer if the ultrasound test were banned,” (Ridge, Mian.). As women are becoming mere victims of this ideology behind the preference of male children, these gender-selective abortions need to be stopped and laws against them need to become effectively strengthened, prosecuting anyone who takes part in such acts.
In a country of bitter reality it is hard to bring change with such indifference and ignorance but the innocent baby girls have no voice and must be protected. If these issues in India remain, the ratio of male to female in population will continue to grow. As the culture in India is very different than ours, and the means to survive can be limited, the infanticides of babies and gender selective abortions are still not justifiable, as they are lawfully and morally wrong. If people participating in such activities are not prosecuted the problem will continue. The old traditions of dowries must be stopped and people participating must be prosecuted or else the bias opinion of male preference won’t change. They deserve a chance at life, but with the twisted mind-set of the male preference these baby girls are not given a chance to live. Bringing us to the question, how can the female gender be protected in India?