Posts Tagged ‘foeticide’


This is the first story from my book ‘Steps’.There are eight  stories in all, all fiction and I will share my women and a part of myself through them here … with all of you. I hope you will find yourselves too somewhere. 

Uma- I wrote it as I waited to be called for an interview. I had nothing with me except copies of my resume and wrote in on the back of the three pages that make my resume. The director probably saw me scribbling away and asked me to show him what I was writing Outside. Hesitantly I showed him my scribbled story. He told me that though I was the most highly qualified candidate and would be offered  the job,  I should go home and write. I did.

UMA

Uma lay quietly, looking up at the soot darkened walls and the sunlight filtering through the dusty mesh. It made odd patterns. They reminded her of her daughter’s attempt at putting henna on her hands, as she had last week, on the auspicious festival of Gangaur. She raised her hands to see the discoloured henna, and rubbed them feebly together- blood on her hands.  What was wrong with her, why was she thinking of blood and death? She lay awaiting life- the birth of her child- her fifth child, child..??  After four daughters she awaited only the birth of a son, no longer of a ‘child’.

            Pain came stronger now, in waves, but Uma did not make a sound. She had screamed enough the past four times but the Gods had not listened, better to bear it. Oh! Why did she not have the optimism these other women squatting around her had? They seemed sure she would beget a son- the promised heir to the name and property. Property? The meager 2 acres left over from drink and gambling? He needed a heir for THAT? She laughed mirthlessly and her sister-in-law mistaking the sound for a sob, moved close, dabbing her forehead with her sari pallu.

            Uma looked into the face of her husband’s younger sister. She seemingly bore no resemblance to the young pretty girl she had been when Uma had entered the house as a young bride. Girls were not supposed to be happy but at least there had been hope and a vestige of a dream on her face. Five years of marriage had wiped out the wishes and dreams. Like the women around her, her face had only weariness etched in its lines now. Not grief, not desperation not even the death of her dreams – just weariness of life , of the constant compromise, the acceptance of the unaccceptable. They looked into each other’s eyes and shifted their gaze away, it seemed they both know the truth that they would have to face soon. Let’s leave it for now, their eyes said.

            Uma’s gaze went to the inner door where her eldest daughter peeped through, holding her sisters back, just nine years old and already a mother to her siblings. She remembered her soft words of yesterday as she rubbed her mother’s aching back and calmed her that it would be a son this time and how she would look after her brother and care for him.

            Suddenly Uma wanted it all to stop. She wanted to hold the little scrap of humanity safe in her womb forever and protect her daughter. To give birth would be to sentence her to the hellish life of her sisters, mother and generations of women. If… if she was allowed to live.

            She knew why the official midwife had not been called this time, knew the meaning of the cauldron of milk kept in a corner of the room. She averted her eyes, her heart silently screaming at her unborn child to remain unborn. She sobbed aloud as pain tore through her and the women in the room suddenly came to life.

Uma  lost herself in a world of pain and prayer, Later, there was an easing of pain and the cry of a baby, Uma did  not know how long or short it had been. She did not open her eyes, not wanting to look at the child who would soon be cruelly snatched away from her, and was not it better this way. She hardened her heart against the inevitable pain and horror.

Loud clanging and joyous shouts, she opened her eyes startled. She looked into the ecstatic faces of her mother and sister-in-law. ‘It’s a son’- she ran to break the news to her anxiously waiting brother.

Uma turned her face away to the inner door and beckoned her daughters to her, opening her tired arms to them. As they came in timidly, Uma’s face broke into a smile.


This post comprises of all the news-links related to honour killings and rulings of Khap panchayat or caste panchayats that govern villages in states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana.


National Girl Child Day was on January 24. It is no coincidence that we have a ‘ Girl Child Day’ and a ‘Women’s’ Day’ but no ‘days’ for boys/men. The boys need not feel disappointed; it means they, as a species, are not in danger. See, the basic idea behind having special days are for things which are in danger, so we have Women’s Day, Earth Day, Plantation Day and of course Girl Child Day. We have campaigns for the same reason, Save Tiger Campaign, Save the Sunderbans, Save the Rainforests of Africa, Save the Butterflies, Save the girl child.
What comes to my mind is that all these campaigns have failed, tigers almost extinct, it’s been ages since I saw a butterfly or a frog outside of a ‘protected environment’, Earth is slowly but surely choking to death, Forest cover is decreasing on a daily basis, so it will be with the girls.
Girls need to be safe and wanted, if we want humanity to survive , if … there is no compulsion, from what I have seen of humans there is actually no harm in letting it die.
There are many who believe that we don’t need a Women’s Day or A Girl Child Day. Women are equal to men and have made their mark in the world in all spheres. It is asked what more do we want?
Let me attempt to tell you.
I want the unborn girl child to be safe and get a chance to be born. There are six million missing girls and the number is increasing every year. I want doctors who conduct gender tests and abort female fetuses to be convicted.
I want the baby girl a chance to live as equally as her brother, have the same food and privileges of sleep and work and schooling. I want the young girl to be given equal chance to study and play, not become a mother to her younger siblings at a tender age as her own mother is further burdened by continuous childbirth.
I want her to study till she becomes capable of financial independence and understands herself. I want her to have toilets at her school so that she does not have to stay home due to this basic need.
I want her to have a choice of marriage, not that she be foisted on to the first ‘suitable’ man who is willing to take her with an affordable dowry. I want her t be wanted for herself not for the money, material goods she will bring. I want her to be loved and respected in her ‘new’ home not abused, tortured and burnt for greed.
I want her parents to support her if she decides to leave an abusive marriage, not push her to stay for social acceptance and then stare in grief at her dead body hanging from the ceiling fan.
I want her to be loved and respected as a daughter, wife and mother, not as a package foisted from father to husband to son. I want her to be respected for what she is, not for what she earns or does.
And more than anything I want her to be safe, safe from physical abuse and harassment. From a six month old baby girl to a seventy-five year old woman, no female is safe. And rape occurs within the boundaries of the known. And she is told to keep quiet for family honour.
I want her to be free to make choices… to be happy… to ….
I want …. I want ….
Is all this too much to want? 

Guest post by Saikat Kundu:

 

Sexism in India refers to beliefs or attitudes in India that one gender or sex is inferior to, less competent, or less valuable than the other.

Discrimination and violence against women is prevalent, and sexual harassment at the workplace and lack of education continue to be identified as major problems.

Gender inequality, which is the devaluation of women and social domination of men, still continues to prevail in India.

Women are usually deemed as dowry burdens, the weaker gender, and worthy of a lower social status compared to men.

This subject raises the cultural aspects about the role of a female child in society, what her human rights are as a human being and a number of sensitive issues.This issue is important because there is nearly universal consensus on the need for gender equality.. Gender based discrimination against female children is pervasive across the world.

Sex selection of the before birth and neglect of the female child after birth, in childhood and, during the [teenage] years has outnumbered males to females in India and also in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and South Korea .

As per ?? 105 women per 100 men in North America and Europe but there are only 94 women per 100 men in India and other Asian countries like China and South Korea.

Domestic violence against women in India is a big problem.

For example, a paper published in International Journal of Criminology and Sociological Theory shows that in 2007 there were 20,737 reported case of rape, 8,093 cases of death due to dowry, 10,950 cases of sexual harassment with total crime of 185312 A U.N. Population Fund report claimed that up to 70 percent of married women aged 15–49 in India are victims of beatings or coerced sex.

In 1997, in a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court of India took a strong stand against sexual harassment of women in the workplace.

The number of girls born and surviving in India is significantly less compared with the number of boys, due to the disproportionate numbers of female foetuses being aborted and baby girls deliberately neglected and left to die.

Compared to the normal ratio of births, 950 girls for every 1000 boys,most states of India, especially Harayana, Mumbai and even Indians in overseas, are not meeting the standard,supported by the steeper child sex ratio, which can as low as 830 to 1000 boys.

India has a low sex ratio, the chief reason being that many women die before reaching adulthood.

It is therefore suggested by many experts, that the low sex ratio in India are attributed by female infanticides and sex-selective abortions.

Even though gender selection and selective abortion were banned in India under Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostics Technique Act,in 1994,the use of ultrasound scanning for gender selection continues.

Other institution effort,such as releasing advertisement calling female feticides a sin by the Health Ministry of India and annual Girl-child day, can be observed to raise status of girls ans to combat female infanticide.

Female feticide will decrease the population of female and further skew the sex ratio of India.

In 1961, the Government of India passed the Dowry Prohibition Act, making the dowry demands in wedding arrangements illegal.

In rural India girls continue to be less educated than the boys.

According to a 1998 report by U.S. Department of Commerce, the chief barrier to female education in India are inadequate school facilities (such as sanitary facilities), shortage of female teachers and gender bias in curriculum (majority of the female characters being depicted as weak and helpless vs. strong, adventurous, and intelligent men with high prestige jobs) The Prime Minister of India and the Planning Commission also vetoed a proposal to set up an Indian Institute of Technology exclusively for females.

Although India had witnessed substantial improvements in female literacy and enrolment rate since the 1990s, the quality of education for female remains to be heavily compromised as the country continues to hold greater value for male than female.