Female Foeticide

n kapoor By n kapoor, 2nd Jan 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Essays

Female foeticide is a curse for the society it will lead to social degeneration.


Women’s work has been viewed simply as home-making and the caring for children, but in almost all societies’ women perform reproductive, productive and community related work. This triple role of women is extremely important. The overall health and standard of living of a community depend upon the role of women which they perform within it. As mothers and primary caretakers of children, they perform most of the productive work. Such is the importance of women. Women should get the rights of getting proper education, satisfaction of basic needs and overall economic development so that she could be recognized in the society but she has been denied these rights and has been the part of subjugation by men since time immemorial leading to the women in social and vulnerable position.

Female foeticide in India

It is the killing of unborn girls, or female foeticide, a curse for human society. The immediate result of this has been a drop in the sex ratio from 971 in 1901 to 940 in 2011 and decline in child sex ratio. In the 0-6 age group, from a ratio of 1010 girls to every 1000 boys in 1941, the year 2011 saw a ratio of 914 girls to every 1000 boys which resulted in that 50 million girls are missing since independence.

Reasons for foeticide

Why the girl child is killed? Historically, India has always looked upon children as wealth. The more children are considered as more working hands for the family, when they grow up. But the historical blot of dowry system in India (as women are considered as PARAYA DHAN- as they have to leave home after marriages) has led to the shocking deaths of numerous young married women in their marital homes. Therefore, to save money and escape this dowry world, new parents seek a solution to kill the baby itself at birth, if it is a girl child. Among land-owning communities, another reason for killing the girl baby is the desire to keep the land within the family’s own sons, and not let a son-in-law lay claim to it. Sometimes, women themselves opt to abort rather than see their daughters suffer in a male-skewed world. In the 1970s, technology enabled the killing to be done one step before birth by predetermining the sex of foetus through pre-natal testing. For a country struggling with a population explosion, this seemed like an easy answer to keeping the numbers down.

Violation of Human Right

Female foeticide is a gross violation of many rights; namely: the right of a female child to be born, right of a woman to take decisions about her health and family, her right to satisfying and health sex life, to decide about pregnancy, and access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning and the right to a safe pregnancy, child birth and a healthy infant.

What the law says

The awareness about this social disease of female foeticide surfaced in the society through the efforts of development process by initiating and integrating the role of women in development process through Women in Development approach and in the 1980s the drive against female foeticide and sex determination techniques gained strength. More campaigns came up in different parts of the country, the move for an all-India ban on sex determination tests gained momentum, and the Pre Natal Diagnostic Tests (Regulation and Prohibition of Misuse) Act, 1994 (called the PNDT Act) came into force in January 1996. Implementing the Act on the ground was another matter. However sex determination and female foeticide continued, practically unchecked.
The combination of greed, social attitudes and practices, family pressure, lack of political will and lacunae in the law enforcement setup leads to heavy under-reporting of the crime, and a low conviction rate. In some cases, even when doctors are convicted, they are not imprisoned but released after paying a fine.

female foeticide- a social conspiracy

Why is there no widespread outrage against female foeticide? Society, the law and the official machinery turn a blind eye and those who try to find a solution are harassed and persecuted. As female foeticide has been thought to decrease ever increasing population of India.
The reasons behind the desire for a boy child has been the following: In case of a girl, you have to pay dowry at the time of her marriage or a girl cannot perform the last rites after the death of her parents, or near and dear ones or the girl can’t take the family forward etc. All these are man made reasons. In fact, the argument that a woman can’t lead the family is most absurd because females are the ones who take the human race forward. Men can’t have babies; the one who takes the family forward IS THE WOMAN! So, what on earth are we thinking?
Another social construct is highlighted in the theory of Manu a law giver, a woman cannot attain ‘Moksha’ and has to be reborn as a man for redemption. According to him, a woman is a field and man is the master (owner). It demonstrates her inferior position. Furthermore, a man cannot attain ‘moksha’ unless he has a son. A male offspring alone guarantees ‘moksha’. Manu states: “A man can gain both worlds through a son and gains eternity through a grandson”. He prescribed that a woman who gives birth to daughters may be left in the eleventh year of marriage. This was the social reality in the later Vedic period.
These are the social norms and social constructs that need to be changed with the moving time. This is actually a concept of Social relations analysis under gender and development approach where, we have to understand the gender roles defined under patriarchal society, where there is need to redefine the role of women vis-à-vis to men in the changing society where men has to do some compromise and cooperate for the welfare of the society.

What is needed?

The solution lies in changing the system, changing official and social attitudes, and in taking individual action. Customs are man made. We can change them and we ought to. Nawanshahr in Punjab is an example of how female foeticide can be stopped, and the sex ratio can be corrected by the sheer will of the people. In 2005, there were just 785 girls for every 1000 boys, and the new district deputy commissioner, Krishna Kumar, organised a seminar for doctors, midwives and educationists, to warn against female foeticide. Action was taken against transgressors, and a phone helpline was set up for expectant mothers. Through rallies, public meetings and street plays, awareness was generated and the sex ratio changed to 879 in 2011.
For example, as many states has initiated schemes to promote birth of girl child like “LADLI” IN HARYANA, “beti hai anmol” in HP, via providing scholarship to parents to provide them their basic necessities of education, health and nutrition.
Only policy instruments can change these social constructs, there is a need to change the perception of both men and women towards each other. Can you imagine a world without women? It would mean the extinction of the human race, simply because reproduction would not be possible.
If Navanshehar in Punjab can do it, the whole country can do it. It is possible for each one of us to do something, right now, to ensure that India does not become the mother of only boys, and India’s daughters are not denied the right to live.


Foeticide, Human Rights, Women Discrimination, Women Empowerment, Womens Issues

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author avatar Sheetal jain
24th Feb 2014 (#)

hmhare yaha ladies ko kmjor smgha jata h......

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