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Why do daughters go missing???? Sex Selective Abortion in India

In the worst hit place there are just 700 girls born for 1000 boys.

The girl child must be saved from sex selective abortion that is rampant in India, never giving her a chance to be born. Today in the worst affected states the child sex ration has fallen alarmingly. A girl's life is subject to economic and social oppression in the stiff and rigid patriarchy of the Indian society and the social evil of dowry has made the girl child to be least preferred by a family. If sex selective abortion has not been carried out to eliminate the female life in a foetus, the new born is being killed in a later stage. There have been instances of new born baby girl being found half eaten by street dogs from a bin! It made it to the front of our newspapers but never on our hearts and on our minds because we still seem to walk on as fast on this path as ever before.

The government of India has woken up from its slumber of ignorance and is attempting to contain the escalating gender disparity. It is inculcating strategies in its health programs and other development initiatives based on community but how effective are these to stop sex selective abortions are yet to be seen. With the gap in the child sex ratio ever rising, one is forced to believe that people who are engaged in this practice are smarter than the government! Research shows that this practice is most rampant among the middle class and the educated lot!

The child sex ratio is the worst affected in the states of Punjab and Haryana where it stands less than 800 girls for every 1000 boys! In India, the ratio has shown a sharp decline from 976 girls to 1000 boys in the year 1961 to just 927 in 2001. As per global trends the normal child sex ratio should be as high as 950. To tackle this phenomenon the government of India has banned ultrasound to determine the sex of the child during pregnancy by the 'Pre conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT Act. Any doctor giving consent or being party to the process of sex determination before the birth of the child is held as a criminal offender. However to add to this figure is the reality that most sex selective abortions are unrecorded because it is all done under the table under the wraps of gender discrimination and so called Indian 'tradition'. It’s almost impossible to convict anyone because the chain involves everyone and not just the doctor.

A renown NGO by the name VIMOCHANA in their research and field survey conducted in the southern state of Karnataka found that in all the hospitals where they studied the response of doctors to requests of aborting the female child, was met with zero resistance from the doctors! This survey was implemented under cover and in disguise and the results were shocking. Though the law of the land is strict on paper a lot is going on out of the vigil of law. This NGO has also recorded the extent to which doctors in Karnataka have gone to carry out this practice fully aware of the law and devising smart ways to escape from its clutches. In one instance, informants have mentioned how doctors use a + sign for indicating a male and – for a female, and in some cases they have a picture of Lord Krishna ( male god of the Indian Mythology) on one wall and Goddess Laxmi ( female god) on other. They then look at the wall with Lord Krishna to inform the couple that the child in the womb is a male and to the wall with Goddess Laxmi to indicate a female child in the womb. Every method to contain this practice has been over ridden by people. A grass root worker of a government health program in villages of the country says that the pregnancies are terminated as early as before the completion of first trimester. If the pregnancy is to bear a male child, it is allowed to carry on and it’s even recorded in the government statistics but if it is the other way round, the PHC is never informed. It’s a hush-hush matter .If we want the sex selective abortion to end, we need to have a policy to address the social issue of oppression of the woman and dowry.

After a lot of research and analysis it has been found that one of the reasons why sex selective abortion has not been able to be recorded officially, is because the mother has been a willing party and in the absence of resistance from her, the aim of the government to stop this practice will never come true. Most often these women have seen so much of oppression in their family, community and society and borne the brunt of violence in one form or the other, they resign to believe that she must not bear a girl child to save her progeny from a similar fate.

In this light, the problem of sex selective abortion in India is a gender and human rights issue, one that has deep roots in our culture. Will we as a nation be able to mellow down our culture to protect the right of a girl to be born? Or will we allow this termination of girls while still in the wombs of their mothers? If this trend carries on the child sex ratio will drop down even further. With the drop of the number of the girl in the nation, we should expect a rise in crime against women and a pressure on the dynamics of securing a life partner in marriage and consequently, a rise in inter caste marriages. Is India prepared to brace this dip in its equilibrium or will it step up its policy, advocacy, implementation and efforts to change the mind sets of people as a whole to narrow the present gender imbalances.

I take this vow today to be a woman of strength, economically self reliant and socially productive, empowering other women to seek strength within themselves. I take this vow to bear a female child and never let myself think that she will live a life of deprivation and oppression. I take this vow to rear her up to become a strong person tomorrow. I take this vow to instil in her the faith that it is worthwhile to give our daughters a chance to be born, to grow, to live and to excel among us.

The day the women of my country stand up and take this vow we will get to see all our daughters who went missing.

urmila.chanam@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/urmila.ch

This story was written for World Pulse’s Ending Violence Against Women Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring an end to gender-based violence. The EVAW Campaign elicits powerful content from women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as vocal grassroots leaders, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Comments

Mukut's picture

Well Written

Dear Urmila,

What you have written is absolutely true and this gender gap is only increasing day by day. Very well posted.

Thank You for sharing.

Mukut Ray

Urmila Chanam's picture

Welcome to World Pulse

Dear mukut,

Welcome to our global family my dear.Thanks for reading my story.As women we have to begin to feel the value of our lives,only then we will resist sex selective abortion.

Love
Urmila Chanam

It takes just one to change many

olutosin's picture

BE THE VOICE

Ch Darling: Be the voice....... Let it resonate. Love ya as always.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

Urmila Chanam's picture

You are my strength

Dear Olutosin,

Yes, you are right sister.The solution is talking about it in our family, our community and in our workplace impacting as many mind sets as we can.

Your love is my strength:)

Love
Urmila Chanam

It takes just one to change many

irmia's picture

Keep Raising Your Voice

Your story hit home for me because something similar happened here, though I've never found sex-selective abortion. In my culture, most parents prefer boys to girls. It also happens when we want to adopt a child---boys are likely to be chosen, as when you choose a girls, when she grows up and want to get married, things would be complicated. You need to find her father, which is surely hard to find. It hurts not only the adopted girl, but also the family who has raised her for years.

In the case of economical issue, having girls can have to meaning, i.e.: a) burden to parents, or b) "advantage" to parents (according to my research about trafficking in eastern Indonesia). Burden means they have to pay for the wedding, and that's why the parents would ask their girl to work so that they can help the parents pay for the wedding. Meanwhile, "advantage" means having girls equals to more income because there is trend in migrant workers "market" for women. Well, the implication is the same: having girls mean "advantage" ("the source of income"). It then leads to less women can access higher education, and they are very vulnerable in the practice of trafficking and would find difficulties in accessing formal-secure job.

Btw, thank you for your courage to share this.

Mia

Dear Mia,

First of all thanks for sharing your culture and the status of women in Indonesia. On one pretext or the other, with differing cultures too I find the status of a woman very low and that is the cause of the son preference. Recently in India there was a conference organized by United Nations Population Fund and Population First, on the role media can.play in highlighting the problems associated with gender and help in bringing to a stop these practices! It becomes important for us to talk about it in our families, friend circle, community,.workplace, just about everywhere!

Thanks again for your views.Please keep sharing them.

Love
Urmila Chanam

It takes just one to change many

Sheil's picture

Important article

Hello Urmila,

I was so disappointed to learn how wide spread sex selective abortion is in India. I knew it existed but thought that with the education of the Indian population, this old tradition would fade away. But to learn it is most prevalent amongst the middle class and those high educated was disheartening and alarming. Thank you for being a beam of light shining down and exposing this unacceptable trend; that girls are less valuable, desirable than boys because of the financial hardship it brings the families.

I am the mother of three children, 2 girls and a boy. I love them all. My girls are off to university to continue growing into strong, global citizens. I will share your story with them, and we will speak of it in our circle of friends, our workplaces, etc., as you have asked.

Warm regards,
Sheila

Sheila

Dear sister Sheila,

I am so happy that I wrote this story and not giving up thinking what could one story somewhere change when.bigger meadures have not worked! I m glad i went ahead.Look today I already have one woman vouch to share this with as many men and women in every possible forum.

Thanks sister.You have given me hope.

Love n hugs
Urmila chanam

It takes just one to change many

Dear sister Sheila,

I am so happy that I wrote this story and not giving up thinking what could one story somewhere change when.bigger meadures have not worked! I m glad i went ahead.Look today I already have one woman vouch to share this with as many men and women in every possible forum.

Thanks sister.You have given me hope.

Love n hugs
Urmila chanam

It takes just one to change many

vichuda's picture

Important problem and possible solutions

Thank you for your detailed description of a situation that is indeed alarming: the sex selective abortion in India. It is good that the problem is seen by the government and there are laws against it, yet it is shocking to read how people find ways to continue with this practice. The research done by your NGO is very important to point out how doctors react and manage to act against the law without getting punished. You also mention consequences of the decreasing amount of women, one of them is quite interesting: inter caste marriage… Thank you very much for also highlighting the root causes and difficult consequences of sex selective abortion in India as well as possible solutions: “a policy to address the social issue of oppression of the woman and dowry” (and probably research and actions to make sure that such a policy will be actually implemented), changes in the (cultural) mindset of people and an empowerment of women to make them feel that a woman’s life is worthy and important and enriching; that women decide themselves to welcome and promote daughters. Your vow is very impressive and I wish that with your strength and passion you can convince many other women to support each other and move towards more freedom and dignity. I come from a European country; just four generations ago, women here didn’t have many choices and possibilities. Although we have not reached total equality yet, there has been a massive amount of change and I am very free and independent and enjoy being a woman. So change is possible, even if it takes some time. Women like you are highly needed. Go on with your activities and don’t lose hope! I wish you and India that you will be successful.

Dear Vichuda,

You are very fortunate to enjoy womanhood with no deprivations and fears attached to it. In India, it's a privilege enjoyed by very few. Most of us see inequality in terms of rights in every facet of life. The most important thing for us would be to talk about it in every possible forum, and play our role in stopping this practice!

I am most encouraged by your account and your support. Hope to hear more from you:)

Love
Urmila Chanam
Bangalore

It takes just one to change many

Ali Shahidy's picture

A Tragic Fact

Dear Urmila,

Thank you so much for this powerful writing. Your article made me learn a lot about the oppression of Sex Selective Abortion. Previously, I read about the "dowry killings" and how rampant it is in India, but knew nothing about the sex selective abortion. I see how hackneyed traditional believes are still, in 21st century, predominant in many countries and can target vulnerable women. While reading through your article, I was in favor of the notion that it's the Indian women themselves who cause such tragic atrocities by their resilience and lack of resistance and thus chiding them for their silence till I reached this part of your article "Most often these women have seen so much of oppression in their family, community and society and borne the brunt of violence in one form or the other, they resign to believe that she must not bear a girl child to save her progeny from a similar fate." I couldn't be more dejected and downhearted.

About determining the sex of a fetus before its birth, I don't know how accurate it is, but I have noticed several times that some people use traditional means to determine the fetus's sex in its very early months and technically they learned that through experience.

And I believe that the advocates need to utilize both a grassroots approach from bottom up (like public awareness) and from top down (like creating and supporting the laws, involving the government officials, politicians, etc to support your cause) in order to fight this destructive phenomenon.

And, many thanks to the WorldPulse for creating such a place where I could learn a lot. And thank you for sharing this and talking about this.

I am happy that you are involved in the cause and cognizant of the problem and that you took a vow to address this problem.

Ali Shahidy

Dear Ali Shahidy,

I agree with you that we in India require an advocacy program and sensitization regarding this practice, if we hope to bring our missing girl's number down! But what is sad is that most people don't find anything missing and eye brows are not raised perhaps because it happens in their homes as well. In the name of tradition a lot happens.

I invite you to take a similar commitment. Please keep posting your views, accounts from your country and community that will benefit us all.

Thanks for your words:))

Love
Urmila Chanam
Bangalore

It takes just one to change many

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