'We worship goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswati, Parvati, Durga and Kali and claim they represent wealth, intelligence, strength and power and then offer prayers for a boy child, or worse still, want to abort a girl child!'
Cuckoo Choudhary feels all Indians have a duty
to end female feticide
Aanchal mein hai doodh aur aankhon mein paani...”
detest this quote now which symbolizes perfect womanhood,
although I must confess it was one of my favorite ones in school,
partly because it sounded “rich” from a literary perspective. And
partly because I did not understand its meaning well.
Okay, I thought. “Is this really an educated woman?”
Before I could open my mouth, she continued, “For instance, one can sleep
at night even if the son comes home late as it really does not matter where he
is and what he is doing. On the other hand, if the daughter is late, that is a
major problem, because what she does away from home late at night might
end up becoming your responsibility.”
I guess it is not rocket science to figure out the “responsibility” she was
referring to. It had nothing to do with crime against women, in either Delhi
I was amazed, ashamed, and dumbfounded. My head started to spin. Why
these double standards against female gender in ‘Mera Bharat Mahaan’, even
I always hoped people would worry equally about their sons and daughters
with regard to what they were doing away from home late at night. How
come what a son does outside the home with, or to someone else’s daughter
does not matter? Are we that selfish and shameless? Or was I just over-react-
The conversation left a very sour taste in my mouth, and her monologue
stayed with me throughout my journey back home. I was very uncomfortable
and depressed. No wonder, I thought, discrimination still exists against
females in India to the degree that female feticide is still occurring there.
Disgusting. I hated it. I was ashamed to be an Indian. But, how would that
help? I had a strong desire to do something about it, right that day, and right
at that moment. Coincidentally a few days after my return I came across an
article on female feticide in a magazine.
Auntie’s voice resonates in my ears, and is not very pleasant.
I start reading the article which states that in the year 1992, 37 million
women were reported as ‘missing’ in India, and in 2001, the number rose to
44 million. The article made reference to a December 2006 report which
stated: ‘ Ten million girls have been killed by their parents in India in the past
20 years, either before they were born, or immediately after, and a minister
even referred to it as a “national crisis”.
What absolutely amazed me is that this was happening despite a law in
India that bans ultrasounds and other prenatal tests from predicting the sex
of the unborn child. “The United Nations says an estimated 2,000 unborn
girls are illegally aborted every day in India,” the article continued.
I could feel the warmth in my face, my ears turning red and my blood pres-
sure rise as I somehow managed to scramble through the rest.
It continued, “Punjab loses every fourth girl, and was reported as being the
leading state in female feticide, followed closely by Rajasthan. Haryana had
witnessed a dip in sex ratio as well; 618 girls for 1,000 boys, thought to be
result of female feticide.” The article also commented on other ways in which
women were being abused in India including bridal burning, etc, but to me
that was not important. What was vital was that these hideous crimes were
still happening. I needed to find out why, and that it needed to stop.
Despite all advances in science, it is still not uncommon to see couples in
India offer prayers to god in order to be blessed with a child. Not to say that
a baby is not a blessing from god, but for many, if the child happens to be a
girl, the blessing soon becomes a curse and the ‘precious gift’ is done away
with as soon as possible before extending another demand to god for a male
It is also no secret that the yearning for a son is deep-rooted in both rural
and urban areas, and many prayers and lavish offerings are made in temples
in the hope of having a male child.
A look at some facts: Abortion was legalized in India in 1971, mainly to
assure that pregnancy can be aborted if it results from sexual assault, con-
traceptive failure, baby having severe congenital malformation, or if the
mother is incapable of bearing a healthy child. Amniocentesis, another pre-
natal test was introduced in 1975 to detect fetal abnormalities, but it soon
began to be used for determining the fetus’ sex.
But the ultrasound test has emerged as the all-time winner. Being non-
invasive, it has quickly gained popularity among the masses and is now avail-
able even in some of the most remote rural areas. It is being used widely for
sex determination and, in many instances, with the intention of aborting the
fetus if it turns out to be a female.