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Pro Life vs Pro Choice - the right to life for the Indian girl child

Updated on January 29, 2011

A choice that discriminates against the woman from the womb

Pro choice vs pro life the debate continues. This debate may have different relevance and connotation in different parts of the world. In India it is discrimination against the woman, even in the womb. Does a girl child have a right to life is my question?

“When will I see my grandson?” is the question every married woman in India faces. It is a must for a woman to have a male child. A woman who gives birth to female children is always frowned upon and ostracized by family and society alike. A male heir to carry on the legacy of the family has always been considered sacred, and a woman who cannot produce a male heir is thought of as cursed by Gods.

A People who have  a woman President discriminate against women

In the days of yore, according to the Hindu Succession Act, only a male child could inherit the property of his parents. Even though the situation has changed considerably with the later amendments, still people consider it important to have a male heir and very often parents bequeath their property to their sons. A male heir would also be the only bread winner of the family and he would be required to take care of the parents in their old age. Even today many parents live with their sons and their families until their death.

This tradition seems to have gone so deep that today even though women are well qualified, competitive, considered equal in any field and earning on par with men, yet this sad plight of considering women as lesser beings continues. Today women in India occupy high positions in government offices, research fields and in every area of life. On 26th January 20011 as the country celebrated its Republic day India’s IAF Wing Commander N Gayathri lead the Republic day Parade, a never before event. The president of India is a woman and yet this biased outlook continues to be a bane of the society. To avoid social and cultural ostracization, couples often resort to gender determination of the child in the womb. India has made gender selection illegal and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) has been considered illegal and punishable under law. Hospitals and fertility clinics are constantly monitored by the government and yet gender determination continues to be practiced illegally by corrupt doctors and medical practitioners.

Gender determination as means of discrimination

Since the laws in India are becoming stricter by the day, people are finding different loop holes and different means of ascertaining the gender of their child. Thailand and Jordan have become the PGD destination of India. Affluent Indians do not consider it big spending USD $9000 for this test in Thailand. It seems as though people would go to any length to have a male child. This is no exaggeration but the sad reality.

If a woman conceives a female child, and if the PGD test declares that it is a female child, people would not consider it wrong to terminate the pregnancy even if it means putting the mother at risk. Women would be ill-treated by their husbands and in-laws if they bear female children in some households. This is not restricted to the illiterate and the ignorant. Sania Nehwal India’s badminton champion currently ranked number 4 in the world by Badminton World Federation admitted in a pubic interview that her grandmother refused to see her for a month after her birth because she was disappointed that Sania was a girl. This is not a one off incident but a normal happening in many Indian homes.

Female infanticide and gender discrimination in India

Female infanticide was the order of the day a few years ago. The Girl child was abandoned on the garbage piles to the mercy of the stray dogs for fear of bringing home a girl baby home and facing the ire of the in- laws. The government took various measures to control this by making people aware that a woman was no lesser than a man and all children were equal. In some states cradles have been left for women to drop their children safely so that the government can take care of them. Yet all these traditions and customs that are so steeped in ignorance prevail. Women were often thrown out of the homes and sent back to their parents if they failed to bear a son. The man would then marry again as if it was all the fault of the woman and not the man that he could not produce the Y chromosome.

The woman is not only discriminated for bearing girl children but also for being darker skinned. Women who are dark are often rejected in the marriage market. A huge dowry or a huge sum of money and assets are demanded from the parents of the bride at the time of marriage which is another major cause of such discrimination against women, but darker women have everything working against them. It is considered a shameful thing for a woman to be sent back to her maternal home after marriage. A family with a daughter in such a situation faces so much discrimination that the other younger daughters have lesser chances of getting married.

Did you know that female infanticide is prevalent in India?

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Fight against this terrible crime today

Women have been discriminated against for centuries and she has not had the right to speak and fight for herself until lately. But what is surprising is that affluent, well educated, upwardly mobile Indians are still slaves to such thinking and customs that have no values, morals or relevance behind them.

It is a sad state of affairs that this country is facing, and as the vultures gather for the dying, so have those that revel in unfair trade, opened their doors for those couples seeking these services. Thailand has is now turning out to be the favoured destination of those couple who need medical test to determine the gender of the child in the mother’s womb, a quick buck is made at the cost of the Indian girl child. The information gathered and reported in relation to couples travelling to Thailand for this purpose by creditable news papers is alarming. There are many states in India that are unevenly gender balanced. In some states there are more men than women and yet this apathy continues.

I wonder when Indians will wake up to the reality that you cannot have a society of just men. The very reason for which the girl child in India is sacrificed at the altar of greed will become its nemesis. When will Indians wake up to the fact that this indiscriminate slaughter of the girl child will lead to so many other problems in the society, social and moral? I wonder when Indian women will wake up to a day of complete freedom and respect, when they are considered and treated on par with men not only at their jobs, but also in their homes. Wake up India, wake to the truth that your women can do what men can, if not more. Jai Hind!! Hail Mother India!


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    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Crystolite, thanks for the read and the comment. Yes, I do wish that more people will read this and an awareness is created. I hope to be writing more to make my voice heard on this subject.

    • crystolite profile image


      7 years ago from Houston TX

      Interesting and informative article that should be looked into by people at the top.thanks for sharing this bravo.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Denise I can see that you are passionate about this subject. Yes the reality is that the 'y' chromosome is from the male and yet women get abused for not bearing a male child. Things have got to change, this has to stop. I am writing about this sad state of affairs where ever I can. I do appreciate the voices that join with mine and make it heard louder. Thank you Denise for standing up for what is right!!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Sofs, thank you for writing this informative and emotional hub. I'm glad that you mentioned the fact that it is actually the male who determines the sex of the baby, although it was just a brief mention. Isn't it ironic that in this male dominated culture they are ignorant and justifying their ignorance with blame-blaming a female for the outcome that is purely their own?

      It is outrageous, infuriating, unfair and dangerous. I am saddened that the world in general treats females with such disrespect. When I was growing up both my sister and I were constantly furious with the chauvenistic attitude from the men in the family, my father included, until he became more educated. My grandfather, uncles and male cousins were sickening with their disparaging comments to the female family members.

      I was well aware then of the fight for womens equality. I was also aware of countries, such as Africa, China and India, where women were treated even worse than how American females were treated.

      I say, fight on. Something must change. I am a firm believer in social activism. How does one protect their daughters? Their sisters? Their loved ones whom they marry? Is there any hope or resolution? We are talking ancient tradition and a country steeped in adhering to unfit beliefs while turning a blind eye to the injustice.

      My heart is saddened reading about the reality of all of this.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Talloni, thank you for drawing a parallel with China and showing the outcome..the sad thing is that people know what happens, but they do it so that their family will have an heir to carry on the tradition.

      I am glad that you have written a heartfelt commentary on the sate of such practices and I hope that our voices will be heard and the winds of change will blow in fast.

    • RTalloni profile image


      7 years ago from the short journey

      The lack of women in China because of gendercide, largely due to their one child per family policy, has created a situation for young men that was inevitable. An astonishing lack of foresight has resulted not only in frustrated young men who want wives, but supposition about how far-reaching the consequences will be. Could their government actually decide to "cull" the young-adult males?! Who would have believed what they have already done to their people?

      Even if there are sincere governmental efforts to change their situation, such as stating on billboards that their current "policy" is that parents pay attention to the "gender imbalance" problem, the indoctrination of so many for so long, the fear instilled by the government regarding the policy (horror stories about forced abortions abound, not to mention the imprisonments when there was success at having 2 children), the uncertainty that the people live with because of changing policies all work against real progress in "reeducating" the people of China.

      However, the fact is that although China is a supreme example of how the problem has worked out, the women of many countries in the world generally live under conditions that include such a fear of the men in control of their lives that they can't even bring themselves to protest. They have no protection if they want to refuse gendercide via abortions or infanticide, or any of the other atrocities against them personally and corporately.

      China, for instance, is telling the world that they are changing their policies, but reports are that the efforts are very limited, and many think that it is just a cover-up for the time being. Until China is a free nation it will be impossible to be sure of the truth about the situation its people face. "Truth invites scrutiny, error demands tolerance." It is very important that people who are able speak up on behalf of these who cannot speak for themselves.Thank you for writing this hub.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Shocking reality yes.. but there is hope for the Indian Girl child, if more voices are raised.

      Yes Fucsia I agree with you depressing as it is, I hope someday a wind of change will blow in..but we could cause the wind to come in sooner when we raise our voices.

    • fucsia profile image


      7 years ago

      When I read things like this, even if I already know, I am equally shocked. Is shocking, unthinkable ... But it happens, today.

      But I think we also need to be optimistic: the important things do not change in a day and the World is slowly changing . The day when the Indian women will wake up free will come. In the meantime we can, we must, divulge this information to make the World aware and to push the common opinion against these barbarities.

      Therefore.... Thanks for your Hub

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Yes it is unbelievable and absolutely biased attitude against women. But what beats me is that the educated and the elite are also prey to such attitudes. If only people woke up to the new reality to see what a Sunitha Williams can do, or Kalpana Chawla could prove to the world, India would be a better place.

      Thanks Tim for taking the time to make this voice louder!

    • timorous profile image

      Tim Nichol 

      7 years ago from Me to You

      Hi sofs. It's unbelievable that this is still going on. Did it never occur to anyone that you will always need a female to bear those male children...? Such closed-minded adherance to tradition has no place in a civilized world. Thanks for speaking out, not just for women, but enlightening those same minds.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Harsh reality, is it not? Well, this is what most Indian women face. It is time that this changed. Thank you Carrie now you know one more thing that you have to be thankful for! God Bless!

    • carrie450 profile image


      7 years ago from Winnipeg, Canada

      I cannot imagine living such a life as this, killing their own flesh and blood because she's female. Thank God I was born in a free country. Thanks sofs for this informative hub.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Incomprehensible is the word, most traditions and customs that have not changed with the times are beyond comprehension. India is not a dark place, but illiteracy, ignorance and clinging on to meaningless customs have made it so. As a woman my heart cries out.

      Thank you Karanda for taking the time to raise your voice with mine. I appreciate the support.

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Having been brought up in a world of free choice I find this incomprehensible, especially in light of the fact that I am female. Thank you Sofs, for bringing this to the attention of the world.


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