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Female Foeticide in India: Medieval mindset rules over Indian Society

"Lot many cases have come up during the last months where many Bahus (Daughter-in-law) and Biwis (Wife) were tortured and thrown out because they couldn’t give birth to a son. They had to go for repeated abortion with the hope that the next would be a male one. As the pressure comes from old ladies of the family, the victim of the game – an Indian Bahu never gets the strength to oppose such heinous attempts nor do they get sufficient support and security from their paternal lineage to do so."

Editorial : August 12, 2007

July 2007 brought to light one of the most heinous practice like female foeticide in the State of Orissa that not only created a political turmoil in the state but drew reactions across the country. Recovery of hundreds of dead foetus dumped in a pit at the outskirts of in a relatively small town Nayagarh and most of them being female  revealed that heinous practice of female foeticide is rampant in Orissa and more rampant in the districts adjacent to the capital city Bhubaneswar. Even, some doctors working in the government and placed at high positions in the health department were found actively involved in the practice.

Looking at the reaction of people across the country political leadership played their game of escaping from and encashing upon the agony of people. Soon after revelation of the fact, government lauded about immediate steps. Some Nursing Homes were sealed, many were closed for investigation, the department started working day and night to verify the licenses and other required documents of different Nursing Homes and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Centres, owners of some nursing homes along with few doctors and nursing home owners were arrested, for quite a few days health department raided some more private nursing homes and diagnostic centres across the state. Opposition termed it the greatest failure of the government in managing and implementing policies to their best effect. The high political drama continued for quite some days and statements stormed in the air to get more people into its fold.

All these happened only after the fact was brought to light by a responsible TV Channel. But the question comes, why after the exposition of fact by media? Why not earlier so that such heinous practice would have been checked before? Were the government and its machinery ignorant about the fact?

The ignorance plea is instantly over ruled as senior government doctors were found tagged with the clinics that were into female foeticide business and as the department was informed by CDMO Ashok Das about the illegal practice being on in Nayagarh. But nobody took any action. Why? Was it because some of the officials placed at the senior levels involved in the practice to make more money apart from the regular salary? Even, what prompted the complaining CDMO issuing license certificates to the nursing homes and diagnostic centres who had not fulfilled all the requirements – Pressure from the top or handsome bribe money by the owners?

However, one can’t just blame the doctors, nursing homes and political leaders for such inhuman practice in our society. It’s right that doctors have violated their code of conduct by doing things which are illegal. They should have brought such cases to the notice of police as part of their responsibility instead of being motivated by money to perform female foeticide. Instead, the man or woman at his door needs the doctor do this at a better offer. There would be many reasons to make someone opt for killing a female foetus. It could be the case of an unwed mother or a foetus detected to be with deformity problem or one needs a son, not a daughter. How parents know whether the foetus is a male or female?

The major culprit in this racket engaged in female foeticide are the diagnostic centres who reveal the sex of the foetus knowing that such act is illegal and punishable. Still it’s the parents who are to be blamed for their interest in knowing the sex of the foetus with the intention of getting the foetus aborted in case it is a female one. Most of the parents do not go for it during the first conception. They show interest for a sex determination during the second conception if the first baby is a daughter. They know number of females in the society is dropping in India and the country needs more female members to see a happy society. But this doesn’t make any sense for them as they are simply in need of some one who will take the family line ahead. It’s sad to see the Indian society still in the pang of medieval mentality.

>>> Scroll down to read rest of the Story


High School, Council, Central Board and University results in the previous years have made it very clear that girls surpass boys on many occasions. Even on the career front, girls are no less talented, no less capable. Apart from regular jobs they are now flying aeroplane, joining police departments and army, working as scientists in various disciplines, they have their presence in almost all career places and are doing quite well. And the greatest desire of parents to be looked after by their offspring is more fulfilled by the daughters these days than the sons. But still the medieval mentality reigns and everyday number of female foetuses are killed by their fathers and mothers. What could be more shameful to the society and nation than this - India is a country of Killer Parents!

Lots of measures are taken by the government to change the age old mindset of Indians. Dowry, the social evil that makes the daughter a burden on the parents, has been declared illegal. Girls are given preference in education, employment and all other fronts. But why the girls and female population in general are still neglected and considered as the second segment of society? Women are responsible for such negligence to their sex. One or two women always play key roles in most cases where a woman is suppressed or tortured to death. It’s the senior women of the family that expresses the desire of a male child from their sons or grandsons.

Lot many cases have come up during the last months where many Bahus (Daughter-in-law) and Biwis (Wife) were tortured and thrown out because they couldn’t give birth to a son. They had to go for repeated abortion with the hope that the next would be a male one. As the pressure comes from old ladies of the family, the victim of the game – an Indian Bahu never gets the strength to oppose such heinous attempts nor does she get sufficient support and security from her paternal lineage to raise her voice.

Most women and parents opt to kill a female foetus knowing that it is a punishable offense. So we can’t say it an outcome of less awareness. In fact, it can be rightly termed as an adverse impact of awareness as the parents and doctors work a lot to brand it as a case of normal abortion which is legally approved in India. So when parents and doctors in number come forward to break the law of the land tactfully, the task becomes tough for the government to stop it? Instead of putting regulations in place, the focus should be on changing the medieval mindset of Indians, particularly the old and young women. Women must be taught to realise that they are the most important component of the human society.

Women are not a commodity to be priced by men nor are they a burden on the men. It’s rather a man who is completely dependant on a woman for lots of his needs. If son is the need of a family, daughters are the need of the society. A son can’t take the family line ahead if there is no female member to act as his wife or life partner. These themes must aware Indian women about the importance of girl child in the society and empower them to raise their voice against any attempt to kill a female foetus.



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