A shocking news once again exposed the fact that how desirable sons are in Indian society. And up to what extent many prejudiced Indians are willing to go to get a male child.
At the age of 70 years, this woman went for assisted reproductive technology (ART) to conceive and has given birth to twins, one boy and one girl. The rural couple said in the interview that they have lots of property but had no “heir”. Apparently their two daughters can’t inherit it as I suppose they have done a crime by being born as girls. Challenging the limitations set by Mother Nature, a woman risks her life just to have a son because of deep rooted age old beliefs and discrimination against the girl child. The couple is so old that I doubt if they would be able to see their son reach 5th grade. After they pass away who is going to look after the kids? Their sisters or their relatives? I can’t even imagine the embarrassment the daughters must be going through. Imagine the grandchildren going to school where everyone knows their grandma has given birth to their uncle!! Its being ethically justified on the grounds that there is no maximum age limit for ART in Indian Law. Even young women conceive one after another just to get a son and end up having a huge family and losing their health, sometimes even life.
Our ancient sacred scriptures tell us some codes of living but it seems some of us have not realized the incorrectness of those and continue to follow such hollow beliefs.
Indian society, like most of the societies world over, is patrilineal, patriarchal and patrilocal. According to Manu, a man has to be reborn as a man to attain moksha (redemption). A man cannot attain moksha unless he has a son to light his funeral pyre. Also, it says a woman who gives birth to only daughters may be left in the eleventh year of marriage.
It seems the appalling desperation and the irrational desire for a son in India is reaching new heights . The issues of foeticide and infanticides are known to one and all. Indian couples going abroad to get sex determination done is another example of this obnoxious desire. In rural India where the birth of son is announced by conch shells, the girl child invites sympathetic and sarcastic comments.
The age old preference for sons is motivated by economic, religious, social and emotional desires and norms that favor males and make females less desirable. Parents expect sons—but not daughters—to provide financial and emotional care, especially in their old age; sons add to family wealth and property while daughters drain it through dowries; sons continue the family lineage while daughters are married away to another household; sons perform important religious roles; and sons defend or exercise the family’s power while daughters have to be defended and protected, creating a perceived burden on the household.
The discrimination in terms of basic facilities is pushing the country back in terms of literacy and women empowerment. Abortions based on sex of the foetus has given rise to the problem of unavailability of girls in some communities, which in turn has led to the practice of polyandry in such communities. If all of these practices are not stopped, a distorted gender ratio will lead to more socio-economic problems.
Another outcome of this preferential behaviour is the frequent cases of abandonment of infants coming to light. Baby girls ranging from one day to four months old have been found abandoned in dustbins or in trains or in polythene bags or down civic pipes. Polythene bags?? Is the baby some sort of vegetable waste that the mother / family gets the courage and has the heart to throw her away?? To leave her to die?? Sometimes baby boys are abandoned too but then its mostly due to the mother being unmarried. All this makes me think the so called attachment of a mother and the belief a mother can never harm her child; are all myths. Atleast not applicable to each and every mother.
And all this in a country where the majority are Hindus and worship so many goddesses!! In a place following the concept of Shakti?? I say stop this hypocrisy if one can’t put that in practice. Do these people never stop to think that if all of them had sons, how will their caste/community/human race propagate and exist? It seems the animals know better than us. And I believe its a crime to be born a girl especially in India. The struggles of a girl child starts from her foetal stage till the last day of her life. Its a struggle to exist, a daily struggle to live with dignity and to be treated as a human instead of a burden or a cheque waiting to be cashed or an object to provide pleasure or a machine to work and produce sons.
Often I meet people who ask me about my family and when I say we are two sisters, their next question is invariably the same, asked in the same sympathetic tone with the same pitiful expression “No brothers?” I answer politely “no” but in my mind I’m like “Didn’t you hear? I said 2 sisters. Obviously that means no brothers, moron”. But I’m kind of losing my patience with such people. So next person who asks me that is in lot of trouble. And frankly speaking I think a sister is the best sibling one could have.
Thank you Dad and Mom for never letting us feel that we were lacking in any way by being girls, for believing in us and inspiring us to achieve what we wanted. In return we promise you to fulfill the so called duties of a son in Indian society.