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Zoya Zaidi [FEMALE FOETICIDE IN INDIA]
Female Foeticide in India
Probably the day Homo Erectus became Homo Sapiens, the male must have realized he was physically stronger than a female, may be they fought tooth‐and‐ nail to begin with, till the woman realized that it is no use trying to win over the man physically and gave in, the man must have gloated that day in triumph at subjugating the female; he is still gloating! He must have begun to assert himself very early in the history of mankind; he is sill asserting. A woman must have started to ‘give in’ centuries ago; she is still ‘giving in’. A woman must have started to suffer from the day she developed the gift of feelings & of emotions; she is still suffering. Man has come a long way: He has become ‘civilized’, but his instinct to dominate over the weaker sex has remained, in fact it has turned into an obsession, a need, with time; With ‘civilization’ the tools of oppression have become more ‘civilized’ too, more and more sophisticated, cultivated, advanced and techno savvy; In fact the whole process of advancement of society can be traced in the process of suppression of women.
It must have started with the need to possess ‐land, property, women‐ and gain control over (land, property, women), it was free for all to begin with: who ever was powerful got the maximum property, land, and then women may be to serve him, provide ‘comfort’ to him, provide ‘satisfaction’ to him… With property must have come the need to control and manage people, the need to rule, and with the need to rule the desire to have power, with power the show of power, and what better way could there be to show power than the display of property. Property must have become a tool of ‘show of strength’. With show of strength comes the need to assert strength. To bully the weak, do dispossess them of their copyright© 2010, Oriental Women Organization 1
With that it must have become easier to boss over her. which he can exchange (e. Being relegated to the rank of a commodity she must have become a means of trading in commodities and getting more property. or made to give up the power of decision‐making. a ‘possession’. a son must have increased. She must have become a property of the physically powerful man. This must have lead to the dowry system. then alliances with neighbouring territories must have started. That must have lead to importance of being stronger of the two sexes. Now when giving off (giving off!) their daughters in marriage. this must have lead to wars of first smaller then big scale. With the craving to have more. This must have led to her becoming undesirable. as slaves. not satisfied with just that. not only physically but psychologically.g. then bigger conflicts with far off territories. the importance of being a man. Commodities. The beast in man must have resurfaced when he must have subjugated a territory. get rid of when not required. to ‘satisfy’ his needs. With growth of property. oppress and suppress her and finally dispossess her completely. And slowly and gradually a woman must have been relegated to a secondary status. Losing that she must have become a toy at the hands of man which he can make sport of as he pleases. later on. So. Losing all rights she must have lost the power. since she was a financial ‘burden’. and the power to posses them must have increased. rather than a human being.Dr. the need of an heir. by marriage alliance). Over the years her physical weakness must have been exploited to make her psychologically weak as well. as a part of won‐over property. rules regarding women and their conduct (read the determination of how much would be their limits. As dowry system must have taken root. the instinct to bully must have grown resulting in unprovoked assaults. man slowly and gradually must have started taking her as burden to be looked after and spend time and money on. Gradually over many years a girl must have been indoctrinated to feel inferior. he must have brought them over along with him and forcefully kept them and used them. This must have lead to enslaving of women and slowly to counting of a woman as a spoil of war. She must have been deprived of property rights‐ either at the very onset or laying down of rules. Man must have wanted more. intellectually and mentally as well. or later deprived of her earlier enjoyed rights. he must have taken steps to justify his action. Like all the rules of governance. keep or reject at will. The need to maintain an army must have arrived. With power and property greed must have taken root. as a commodity. After depriving her of all power and property. slowly a woman was reduced to a slave. even pay for being disposed off. A whole campaign aimed at subjugation of women must have started. pretty heavily. a thing. of how much they could be ‘allowed’ to do) must have been laid down. So. and in doing so. With wars the importance of women must have decreased. by even killing. manipulate her. either by abandoning or. a copyright© 2010. While on the other hand in order to carry on possessing things and property even after death. Zoya Zaidi [FEMALE FOETICIDE IN INDIA] little power to become more powerful. first pretty squabbles with neighbours. Not satisfied with what he already had. Each time a man must have gone further in repressing a woman. to appease his conscience and mollify others in the society. the groom’s people must have demanded that the father also provide for the daughter’s maintenance. the daughter must have come to be looked upon as something (“something”!) to be disposed off. use her. Attacks on weaker and smaller territories must have started. as a ‘thing’ to be possessed and used at will. his sexual greed. Oriental Women Organization 2 . he must have looted and possessed (read raped) women.
. ‐‐An old Folk Song From Uttar Pradesh First it must have been a girl or two killed on the sly. paying beyond means must have stepped in as a matter of honour.. God.. they must have again gone back to doing it secretly on copyright© 2010.. So. I beg of you. then man must have become bolder and bolder till Female infanticide must have become an accepted norm. Oriental Women Organization 3 . Zoya Zaidi [FEMALE FOETICIDE IN INDIA] girl became a potential financial drain on a man. Give me Hell instead. This must have slowly led to girl hatred. a show‐off. Practiced first discreetly. “Prabhuji mein tori binti karoon Paiyan Paroon bar bar Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Na Dije Narak Dije Chahe Dar. Somewhere down the line it must have become a matter of prestige too. then blatantly.Dr. With the laws coming up against female infanticide.” meaning: Oh. the more the dower the richer and higher in status of its giver. I touch your feet time and again. Next birth don't give me a daughter.
In today’s materialistic world a woman is fast being relegated to the rank of a commodity. the Section 307 IPC (of attempt to murder) and along with crime of abetment of murder etc. she has become a means of trading in commodities and getting more property. This term in itself envelopes myriads of meanings: It smacks of the fact that a) A girl is killed before she is born. and with it came the corruption…like the discovery of atom bomb: once it came into being there was no stopping it… And now we have Ultrasound for determining Sex of the Foetus. at the hands of monstrous practices becoming more and more rampant in a society fast losing its secular. b) That sex of a foetus is determined to be that of a female. Oriental Women Organization 4 . not one but many laws: the Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) 1994 Act. and a boon came into being. And then they discovered technology. the slogan (of Ultrasound Sex‐determination Centers) is: “Spend five hundred rupees now save five lacks later” (meaning there by get a female foetus’ sex determined and female foetus aborted. It speaks of a whole system gone corrupt. then carrying out abortion. It is a matter of grave concern that today in India we are discussing a thing like “Female Foeticide”. against destruction of half the population of society. social. d) There are doctors involved in first determining the sex of the baby. and humanistic fabric. marriage has become more of a business alliance than a sacred bond between two people. Zoya Zaidi [FEMALE FOETICIDE IN INDIA] the sly. to later save dowry money). a whole society involved in conspiracy against women. e) There is crime involved in violating. copyright© 2010. a simple and noninvasive technique.Dr. c) It indicates toward the fact that there is Technology privy to this heinous crime.
which needs to be addressed. It was therefore only in 1997 when the responsibility was delegated. Which banned sex determination tests all over the country. The Pre‐Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act. the first anti sex determination drive in the country. all the central government could do was to issue circulars prior to 1985. there is a case of between 32 to 48 million missing females in the Indian society as of 1991 that needs to be explained.000 unborn girls‐one in every 25‐are aborted (*2) As a result of which the number of girls has actually gone down drastically in India. according to a study conducted recently in India. Even though the women organizations across the country took up cudgels to put a stop to this new menace. there is still a social complacency among all sections of society. which were permitted by the MTP Act. the number of would be 455 million instead of the 407 million (in the 1991 census). 10 million female Foetuses have been aborted in India. but their value had leaked out by then and 1979 saw the first sex determination clinic opening in Amritser. a social action group in Mumbai. This was followed by a similar Act being introduced in Punjab in May 1994. to detect foetal abnormalities. the Forum Against Sex Determination and Sex Pre‐selection (FASDSP). This is because the amniocentesis test was claimed to be used for detection of foetal abnormalities. but in face of the MTP (Medical Termination of Pregnancy) Act. In 1986. 28 September1994. This however. Since the advent of Ultrasound and detection technique of determination of sex of the foetus came into being. they were helpless.Dr. This Act carries a three‐year imprisonment sentence and an Rs10. In 1997 UNPFA report “India Towards Population and Development Goals”. Thus. an abortion can be legally carried out up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. According to the MTP Act. Oriental Women Organization 5 . led to the mushrooming of private clinics all over the country.” copyright© 2010. the Maharashtra government enacted the Maharashtra Regulation of Pre‐Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act1988. In the absence of any law. about 50. Zoya Zaidi [FEMALE FOETICIDE IN INDIA] Amniocentesis first started in India in 1974 as a part of a sample survey conducted at the All India Institute of Medial Sciences (AIIMS). 000 fine for offenders. Punjab. Despite this. estimates that 48 million women were ‘missing’ from India’s population. the first systematic study on female Foeticide by an Indo‐Canadian team. The report states “If the sex ratio of 1036 females per 1000 males observed in some states of Kerala in 1991 had prevailed in the whole country. if any abnormality is detected between 12 to 18 weeks of gestational period in the foetus. initiated a campaign. A shocking picture emerges‐every year. New Delhi. that is. The implementation of this act initially faced problems as monitoring agencies had to be identified at all levels. Succumbing to public pressure. that actual implementation of the act began (*1). banning the misuse of medical technology for sex determination in all government institutions. These tests were later stopped by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Both these were however repealed by the enactment of a central legislation.
against the national average of 927 (*5). 000‐50. according to the then India’s Health Minister Ambumoni Ramadoss’ s statement in the parliament (*6). nearly 78. when only two people were convicted. in Russia. India accounted for 4 million. In Delhi alone the situation is “becoming alarming”: only 814 girls are born for every 1000 boys in the Capital. 000 sex determination tests were estimated to have been done in seven Delhi clinics themselves. copyright© 2010. 30. ‘Missing girls’ was coined by the Noble Laureate Amritya Sain. the ratio is even less. The irony of the whole situation is that in the 10 odd years since India enacted the Pre‐Natal Diagnostic Technologies (PNDT) Act. mainly due to causalities of World War 11 (*1). 40 to 50 million girls have gone missing from Indian population since 1901 as a result of systematic gender discrimination in India (*3). Only 23 cases have been registered under this act so far. As per consensus 2001. This has consistently increased over the years: ‘Saheli’. Between 1982‐92. not a single person was convicted till the beginning of April 2006. and indicates ‘the difference between the estimated number of girls that should have been born and the number of girls that actually exist. There are 95 to 97 males to 100 females in Europe. the situation is getting from bad to worst. Zoya Zaidi [FEMALE FOETICIDE IN INDIA] The term.Dr. While the 2001 consensus showed Delhi’s sex ratio to be 865 for age group 0‐6 years. Of the 15 million illegal abortions carried out in the world in 1997. the number of sex determination clinics multiplied manifold and nearly 13. 000 female fetuses were aborted after sex determination tests in the country. launched a campaign against selective abortions. fined and pronounced five years of rigorous imprisonment. According to the UNICEF. On the 8th of March 2006 New Delhi Governor. has reported that between 1978‐82. the child ratio in Punjab is 793 girls to 1000 boys. Oriental Women Organization 6 .’ The 1991 censuses are only indicative of this disturbing trend when elsewhere in the world women outnumber men by 3 to 5 percent. 000 female fetuses had been aborted. 90% of which were intended to eliminate the girl child (*1). So. 88 males to 100 females. This is the lowest child ratio in the country (the average being 927 girls to 1000 boy) and as compared to 1991 consensus it shows a decline of 82 points (*4). Between 1986‐87 alone. As is evident from the above‐mentioned figures. much so that TODAY India tops the list as far as illegal abortion and female foeticide are concerned. a Delhi based NGO.
Oriental Women Organization 7 . Thoraya Obaid. Zoya Zaidi [FEMALE FOETICIDE IN INDIA] Undated picture shows newly born babies lying on a hospital bed in Agartala capital of Indian northeastern state Tripura. and ‘Missing Girls’ on the phenomenon of the same name. ‘ Girl Unborn’. new laws are made and new legislatures are still being coined in India. “Equality benefits equal opportunities to education. besides a country wide campaign has been launched to create awareness about the girl child. thanks to Renuka Chaudhary. assets and services. In conclusion I would like to share two of my poems on this grievous problem with the readers. had remarked then. 000 million girls ‘missing’ from the worlds second most populated Nation in the world: India! Ironically the theme of the 2005‐2006 year World Population Day was declared by United Nations to be ‘Equality Empowers’! The UNFPA Executive director. societies become more prosperous. that has resulted from the practice of Female Foeticide after the advent of Ultra sound in India. When both men and women are able to participate equally and exercise their full human rights. As the world will celebrates 11th July as the World Population Day. which is quickly acquiring epidemic proportions.Dr. we will be helpless observers to the phenomenon of 60. where women have equal excess to income. we are still severely wanting in measures to successfully tackle this serious issue. But. about the appalling practice of Female Infanticide still being practiced in parts of India.”(*7) Alas! How far we are from this goal! India since then has taken lots of measures to save the girl child. copyright© 2010. the world benefits. the present Minister of Women and Child Health in the Congress lead India. families become healthier.
he often wondered: Did he hear the baby cry? Or. she sat with her baby! The GIRL was a “Still-Born-Baby!” But. true! copyright© 2010. It was. Zoya Zaidi [FEMALE FOETICIDE IN INDIA] Girl Unborn (Female Infanticide) My friend who came from the near by village. Tossing and turning in her bed. declared “Still-born!” And as a little boy. In nightmarish dreams all night…? ‘Till one day the “Dai” went crazy! Vacant eyed. As she patted a bulge by her side… But. That.Dr. Oriental Women Organization 8 . did he notice the familiar blue? On the neck of the baby. more often then not. Told me this story of human pillage. whenever a baby girl was born. why was she unable to sleep. it was just a figment of his imagination? Did he see a certain gleam? In the midwife’s dark-black eyes.
they were employed & paid heavy pockets. Oriental Women Organization 9 . Zoya Zaidi [FEMALE FOETICIDE IN INDIA] They say. an act oft-repeated By force of habit.Dr. to “strangulate” the girlchild. Can spell your own “doom”. India Copyright©: Zoya Zaidi *”Dai”-colloquial for midwife. If you don’t cap it!!! And now they say: There is Ultrasound! You don’t “need” the “Dai” around… Author: Zoya Zaidi Aligarh (UP). and to “keep-quiet”… copyright© 2010.
Wrung her neck. only the watery starchy broth! She missed the bus to the school.Dr. she missed the bus: Her brother got all the milk. She. Her brother got all the rice. Threw her into the Trashcan! Where have all the missing girls gone? Gone! ‘Gone. to the grave yard’! She missed the bus While being born: They pulled her back. to the Trashcan! As an infant. Oriental Women Organization 10 . copyright© 2010. Zoya Zaidi [FEMALE FOETICIDE IN INDIA] THE MISSING GIRLS (Female Foeticide) Where have all the ‘missing girls’ gone? Gone! ‘Gone. to the grave yard’! Where have all the missing girls gone? Gone! ‘Gone.
Cleaned off. A mop. Already with a child or two! copyright© 2010. She had no books. She had no clothes. a wiper: She swept and wiped the floor. She cooked the food! She missed the bus. Oriental Women Organization 11 . Zoya Zaidi [FEMALE FOETICIDE IN INDIA] Her brother got on… ‘Cause: She had no shoes. her own blood! Whatever was left Her tears washed‐up! She missed the bus to ‘college ‘ too She was ‘married’. When she sat down to eat: Her father and brother ate up all! The crumbs were all she got… But she had a broom.Dr. Vegetables. How could she then get on? But she had flour. rice and spice.
Oriental Women Organization 12 .Dr. Zoya Zaidi [FEMALE FOETICIDE IN INDIA] But she got on the bus To the graveyard! She went up in flames in Shamshan Ghat… Where have all the missing girls gone? Gone! Gone. to the graveyard! Gone! Gone. copyright© 2010. yes! Here she got on For sure!!! Where have all the missing girls gone? Gone! ‘Gone. to ShamshanGhat! She got the bus to market too: She was sold for a thousand or two! Again and again… She got on the bus to Hell too! Again and again… Oh. gone to ‘Hell Gate’! For ages they wondered: What to do? How to‐get‐rid‐off This unwanted baggage Of doom! They used the pillow on her face.
Suppressed was the very first out cry! Women whispered in corridors. ‘She’ ever was? ‘Cause.. Zoya Zaidi [FEMALE FOETICIDE IN INDIA] To stifle the scream. Oriental Women Organization 13 . She never was!! copyright© 2010. Lest it was heard! The very first scream of the ‘birth’! She could not even get to cry.Dr.. Which kept them awake‐ Conscience pricking eyelids and eyes‐ All night! Then one‐day technology came: What a boon! Shot to fame! Now we can ‘do the job’! Without a clue! Who can say. Midwife could not sleep after daily chores: Their souls were black as the night.
Oriental Women Organization 14 . who never was! No funeral‐pyre. & whirring of Suction pumps… Or. Who can say? There ever was A ‘Girl’ Missing ’!! Where have all the missing girls gone? Gone! ‘Gone. copyright© 2010.Dr. to the dustbins’! Where have all the missing girls gone? Gone! ‘Gone. & ‘Curettage’ Hear a bit of crunch! The ‘job’ is done!! In a minute or two… No evidence left behind Oh! What a find! (This USG* is just divine!!) All is thrown into the ‘Dustbin’. Zoya Zaidi [FEMALE FOETICIDE IN INDIA] Oh! So easy: Just a scan! And then. ‘Dilatation’. gone…’ ‘Missing girl’. the forceps & ‘Sound’.
well and good! If a girl‐you know. Oriental Women Organization 15 .Dr. no clue: The crime is ‘Missing’! And so is the ‘Girl’! The girl is ‘missing’ And so is the ‘evil’! And the black‐soul can go on… Where have all the missing girls gone? Gone! ‘Gone. to the grave yard’! Where have all the missing girls gone? Gone! ‘Gone. Get a wifey. gone… Now. the men are hard pressed too: How to get a wife or two? No problem! Go to the market place. what to do?) You keep your land & inheritance too copyright© 2010. Zoya Zaidi [FEMALE FOETICIDE IN INDIA] No ‘Shamshan Ghat’! No evidence. get a slave! ** She will wash and clean up too Cannot ‘blame’ you whatever you do! A machine for bearing children too… A baby every year or two: (If it is boy.
this caters to the ‘demand’ for women in these states to the already existing acute deficit. gone. Zoya Zaidi [FEMALE FOETICIDE IN INDIA] Just like a slave in olden times… Just like the slaves. Oriental Women Organization 16 .Dr. gone… Where have all the missing girls gone? Gone! Gone. without a trace… Wiped off from the face of Human race… Is her value really at stake? Time is witness to her plight! And so are you! And so am I! Author: Zoya Zaidi Aligarh (UP). right now… Where have all the missing girls gone? Gone! ‘Gone. Shamshan Ghat: Cremation Ground copyright© 2010. India Copyright ©: Zoya Zaidi *USG‐Ultra Sonography **Women are being ’sold’ by their own poor parents to land owners in Rajisthan & UP from poorer States of Bihar. gone. West Bengal & Bangladesh.
cms *5 http://www.com/southasia/article_1032807. Photos by and Copyright ©: Zoya Zaidi The Author is a senior medical doctor.un.indianchild. copyright© 2010.hsph.org/depts/dhl/population/ Images: Newborn babies in Tripura: http://.indiatimes. ‘Innocence’.php?l=en&art=5558 *6 http://news.php/Female_foeticide_still_a_problem _in_21st_century_Indiaimages *7 http://www.htm *4 http://timesofindia.monstersandcritics.php?content_id=85598 *3 http://www. ‘Little Girl Gathering Fire‐wood’ and ‘Too Many’. since last 25 odd years.asianews. Oriental Women Organization 17 .html *2 http://www.com/southasia/article_1032807.monstersandcritics.indianexpress.harvard. India. a Physician and specialist in Immunology and Rheumatology.edu/Organizations/healthnet/SAsia/forums/foeticide/articles/foeticide.com/res/web/pIe/full_story.monstersandcritics.php/Female_foeticide_still_a_problem _in_21st_century_Indiaimages Photos: ‘Pinky the little Mother’.it/view. Microsoft Internet Explorer http://news.com/abortion_infanticide_foeticide_india.Dr. ‘The little Dhoban’. and is running her own clinic in Aligarh (UP). Zoya Zaidi [FEMALE FOETICIDE IN INDIA] References: *1 http://www.com/articleshow/607894.com‐India World Population Day.
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