Born into indifference and reared on neglect, the girl child is caught in a web of cultural practices and prejudices that hamper her development, both physically and mentally. In India, for a girl child the period from infancy to adolescence is a perilous path. In this socially inhospitable environment of male dominated society, a girl is considered to be someone, who will never contribute to the family income and who at marriage will take a large portion of family assets as dowry.
Palna is an orphanage in the capital’s Civil Lines district and a refuge for babies, which have been abandoned by their parents. And this is the only place where girls outnumber boys. Why? Because a girl child is nothing but a mere burden in the Indian families, so they prefer to discard them or go in for feticide.
Baby boys too are found here but they are only deserted in India if born to single mothers or are deserted by a married couple because of some disability.
Although gender-based abortion is illegal, parents are choosing to abort female fetuses in such large numbers that experts estimate India has lost 10 million girls in the past two decades. In the 12 years since selective abortion was outlawed, only one doctor has been convicted of carrying out the crime.
Looking at the present scenario it seems that girls will going to be the next endangered species in the nation.
The unholy specter of illegal sex selection to prevent or destroy female offspring at the pre-conception stage or the pre-natal just doesn’t seem to stop. Even the laws that have been framed to stop female feticide have failed.
Recently, an overwhelming discovery of a mass grave at the backyard of a hospital in central India smacked the headlines.
Last year, in a series of reports entitled Kokh Me Katl, or Murder in the Womb, two journalists working for India’s Sahara Samay television channel found 100 doctors, in both private and government hospitals, who were prepared to perform illegal terminations of girl fetuses. In the grainy TV pictures, doctors from 4 states and 36 cities talked with chilling casualness about how to dump the remains. Many weren’t bothered about the fetus’s age, just that it was a girl that could be got rid off. The average cost of the procedure was a few thousand rupees around $60.
There are instances when the ‘killers’ of the female fetus have performed the crime without impunity.
There is nearly every state in the nation that ‘boosts’ of female feticide, like Rural South India, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Kerala, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharastra to name a few.
Although ministers in India have woken up to a national crisis, the response has been to condone the abandonment of female babies. Thus, the idea of opening a cradle in every state has been proposed where the parents may abandon the unwanted child instead of throwing or killing it. However, I do not think that the idea would be feasible enough in the long run.
As said before, it would only end by improving the overall status of women in society. And to make it a reality, women themselves would have to take first step out from their shells into the realm where they themselves treat the girl child equally important as a male child. Only then, a girl child would find more and more acceptance in the Indian homes.