Family Planning promotes Female Foeticide
Roop Rai | 30 Mar 2008

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<blockquote><a href="http://www.global-sisterhood-network.org/content/view/750/76">[A Punjabi village] Dhanduha's register shows that of the seven babies born in the last six months, there were six boys and just one girl. In the last one year, against 12 boys only three girls were born, and in the last five years, 34 baby boys were born as against only 18 girls. A sex ratio of just 529:1000!

But it's not fair to point fingers at Dhanduha. Everyone in the district knows of Nai Majara, the village where an on-the-spot survey conducted by deputy commissioner Krishan Kumar a month ago, of children in the 0-1 age group, came up with a ratio of 437:1000. A local NGO staged an instant demonstration in the village but its sarpanch Satnam Singh wrings his hands in despair. "It's such a shame for our village, but what can I do? This happens everywhere." Sure it does. And much more than anyone previously imagined.

Gobindpura is a village just off the main road to Jalandhar, with pretty bungalows built with money sent home by its expatriate population. With its fields of yellow mustard, the wheat crop just beginning to ripen and the juicy sugarcane ready for harvesting, Gobindpura presents a picture of agrarian prosperity. A prosperity which many feel is responsible for the village's fast falling sex ratio. Out of the 24 baby boys born in the last one year, the village produced just 10 girls. A sex ratio of 416:1000.


Satinder Kaur Wife of a landed farmer: "I have one daughter, and I know that if I don’t have a son soon my status in the family will come down. Femicide is not an issue in our family. I got my last pregnancy aborted, it <span style="font-weight: bold;">helped me to limit our family size</span>. Otherwise I could be saddled with a whole lot of girls until I get a boy."</a></blockquote>Satinder Kaur is not the only one wanting to limit the family size. In a country where there used to be <a href="http://www.searo.who.int/LinkFiles/Family_Planning_Fact_Sheets_india.pdf">an average of 6 children per woman in 1960s, the average has dropped to just under three children at 2.85</a> in recent years. This drop could be owed to Indian government's efforts of encouraging <a href="http://www.searo.who.int/LinkFiles/Family_Planning_Fact_Sheets_india.pdf">family planning since 1952</a> to slow down and stabilize the country's <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/3575994.stm">population growth</a>. The slogan '<span style="font-style: italic;">do ya teen bas</span>' (2 or 3 are enough) was a common sighting in newspapers in late 1970z but as TV gained popularity in 1980z, the slogan '<span style="font-style: italic;">hum do hamaare do</span>' (we are two, we should have two kids) became popular with it. The recent-most slogan to have caught on is '<span style="font-style: italic;">hum do humaara ek</span>' (we are two, we should have one kid). Some critics suggest that these <a href="http://www.thehindu.com/2006/01/16/stories/2006011610450300.htm">advertising campaigns were a futile attempt on government's part; India's population is still growing at an alarming rate</a>. However, there are reports that <a href="http://www.tribuneindia.com/2005/20051129/punjab1.htm#4">people indeed are beginning to family-plan</a> and it shows the most in states worst affected by female foeticide. Families now choose to have <a href="http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1937472.cms">only one or two children .. err .. sons</a>.

So, there we go. Yet another reason to justify the elimination of extra, unneeded burden of girl children. It is called Family Planning. Just like in the case of <a href="http://unwantedgirlchild.blogspot.com/2008/03/abortion-vs-female-foeticide.html">abortion debate</a>, this blog is not to judge the merits of family planning. It might or might not be necessary; <a href="http://www.albalagh.net/population/overpopulation.shtml">argument is still on</a>. However, what is certain is that a good majority of Indian population still wants one or two sons as opposed to two daughters if they plan to restrict their family to two children.
<a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/special_report/1999/06/99/world_population/379083.stm"><blockquote>Satnam Singh Sarpanch, (Village head of) Nai Majara: "No matter what people might say, at heart everyone wants a son. Imagine the plight of a couple who has two daughters in a row. Life in Punjab is cruel for those with too many daughters."</blockquote></a>Perhaps Satnam Singh is correct. Perhaps life in Punjab (India for that matter) is cruel for those with too many daughters, but isn't it about time that changed? Isn't it time that a girl child is given a chance to <a href="http://www.thehindu.com/2005/05/25/stories/2005052508330100.htm">prove her worth</a>?

I'll leave you today with a well-written <a href="http://hellorosetta.com/mag/?p=37#comment-788">article</a> that discusses causes and implications of female foeticide. An excerpt:
<blockquote>Our society is a complex of thousands of years of religious, cultural and circumstantial history. The freedom and respect for women in the vedic and post vedic periods has been eroded by successive waves of invasion and occupation, when victors treated the women of India as spoils of victory. The reaction was to put women behind ‘purdah’ by creating social norms which took away their freedom, rights and liberties, thus putting them at the mercy of men. Their visibility as intellectuals, artists, leaders and fighters disappeared. Thus, while Hindu men continued with their Devi or Goddess worship, the living devi was buried deep by these very same men.</blockquote>Read the entire article <a href="http://hellorosetta.com/mag/?p=37#comment-788">here</a>. <span style="text-decoration: underline;"></span><a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/special_report/1999/06/99/world_population/379083.stm">