Monday, 14 May 2012

The Crime called Infanticide...

We just celebrated the 60 years of the Indian Parliament and Mother’s Day yesterday. Ironically, it is also the day many Indians were confronted with the reality in the form of a television show depicting the atrocities against the Girl child. 

The deliberate killing of girl babies described as gender-selective killing or "gendercide" is a phenomenon of the yore in India. Reformers came and went but apart from criminalising these heinous acts of crime in the statute books, the reality denominator has remained constant, even in today’s modern 21st century era. Surprisingly it is not limited to the un-educated, the lesser educated, or the below-poverty-line junta. You’d be surprised at the number of people in all levels of society that practice this. 

Surprising? Shocking? Why? Isn’t it a part and parcel of Indian society, for eons now? After all, which ‘good’ Indian father doesn’t want a son to carry on his line? So why this hoo- haa now? What has suddenly changed in a week? Has it suddenly become a despicable since it was pronounced as a wicked and illegal practice by a superstar on Sunday? 

My question: Hasn’t the Government done that already?

Fact: The Government of India, the Chief Ministers of various states have all made an attempt to arrest the trend via different modes like financial rewards for those with daughters, free education for the girl child, etc. Despite all of this, the killing of daughters continues either as an abortion, or as a murder. The reasons given are varied. It could be that boys are seen to be a ‘help’ to the family, in terms of financial contribution. Girls are seen as the cause of unnecessary expenditure especially in terms of dowry. An even more pathetic reason is that a man is ‘shamed’ if he does not have sons (Yes, I’ve heard that too). The lesser known reasons are the desire for a smaller family. Or maybe, just maybe, sheer stupidity?

Another point to ponder: I wonder why the religious leaders (pundits, priests, mullahs) are not more outspoken in their condemnation of infanticide? Nor are the so-called keepers of the Faith, who fight so vociferously at imagined hurts and offenses to religious beliefs state that it is a sin to do away with daughters. Did our God  (irrespective of the differences in religion) ever state a requirement for the death of a daughter? As a matter of fact Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam and all other religions, are very clear in the equal treatment of daughters and sons.

Imagine the horror of finding an infant, dumped in the garbage bin or burnt alive. I have also read of babies being drowned, strangled, poisoned, and the latest - bitten all over, or deprived of milk and starved. An article states that a couple in UP tried to bury their 45-year old daughter behind a temple, on the advice of a “godman”. Horrified? So was I.

A direct result of this infanticide and feticide is the skewed sex ratios. Think about it, by the time your son grows up, you may have a challenge finding a girl at all, to marry him. In fact, this has already started in certain villages, where you read of ‘wife-sharing’ between brothers, or 'buying brides' from different villages / states.* Is that the future?

Why not prevent the disaster before it occurs? Prevent infanticide! All this social awareness and a week-long outrage will NOT change the current situation. Infanticide and abortion are punishable offenses, as are dowry deaths and asking for dowry. To our utter dismay this fact has not affected the reality because children and women continue to perish for no fault of theirs.

Now, for those who were ‘supposedly’ unaware of the existence of the issue have had enough of extra- knowledge from the Television, can we start searching for the solution at a more personal level?  

Proposed Solutions

Since we all are aware that star – power works in the country why not work around this idea at local levels? My thought is to start at the grassroot level. Rope in Religious leaders and Politicians. The reason I use Religious leaders before politicians is because, these leaders unlike politicians are not under constant scrutiny, nor do they have to juggle between a vote and their willingness to genuinely help the weaker sex.  

What about politicians?  Imagine the effect, oratorically-skilled leaders, from the Shiv Sena, the RSS, the BJP, the NCP, the Congress, the SP et al will have if they utilize their skill to promote the idea of daughters. It would work wonders.

It is essential that we work as a whole. Start spreading the awareness yourself. Make the lesser privileged understand their rights and their need to protect the fairer sex. Report domestic violence and child abuse cases yourself when you are aware of the injustice especially in your own neighbourhood. 

Last but not least, I believe strongly this is not merely a social battle, it is a personal battle, one that needs personal conviction and willingness to fight the good fight. 

Jennifer Iyer
@JestChill on Twitter


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