I knew India was not a very woman friendly place but now it seems, India is the most dangerous place in the world to be a baby girl. (Thanks for the link Dhiren)
The UN report is clear that high girl child mortality is explained by socio-cultural values. So strong is the biological advantage for girls in early childhood that higher mortality among girls should be seen as “a powerful warning that differential treatment or access to resources is putting girls at a disadvantage”, the report says.
“Higher female mortality from age 1 onwards clearly indicated sustained discrimination,” [link]
But, why don’t the Indian parents and society value girl children?
If dowry and finding them a husband is the problem? Then has making laws against dowry solved the problem?
It hasn’t, because parents who just have to get their daughters married by a certain age to a certain kind of man (who must be older, taller and earn more than the girl), have no choice but to give dowry, and accept some ridiculous conditions which appear normal to us because they have become a habit/custom.
It doesn’t matter that the daughter is completely self reliant, she still must marry before she is a certain age. So would it not help is women didn’t see getting married and staying married as their goal in life? I see that as the only thing that can change this horrible disbalance.
Picture life for women if they didn’t see marriage as their sole goal in life.
=>They work to be self reliant and since they have to take care of themselves, they learn to be independent.
=>They choose careers they have aptitude for without worrying about how it affects their prospects for finding suitable husbands.
=>Their parents have no fears about what the neighbours’ think because they are not thinking about what the neighbor’s grand uncle would say to the third cousin’s aunty who wants information about their daughter’s character (romantic life and virginity) to pass on to prospective bridegrooms’ families.
=>So less control of the entire community on who they meet, how they dress, what timings they keep etc – less stress for their parents.
=>Once there is no pressure to marry, they would be themselves. They won’t need to pretend to be what they are expected to be.
=>Once the fear of her reputation marring her chances of getting married is gone, parents would take sexual crimes against women more seriously.
=>Since parents make families, and families make society, this would the beginning of the society recognizing sexual harassment and sexual crimes as serious crimes.
=>Once the society takes sexual crimes seriously, so would the police and the government.
=>And that would result in an honest attempt to to understand sexual crimes, and that sincere effort would bring down such crimes considerably.
Sexual crimes would still happen but then they would not be seen as,
1. A woman’s fault (parents and society won’t tolerate such excuses)
2. As the end of her life,
3. As affecting her reputation.
Only when raising ideal daughters in law is not their goal, would Indian parents be able enjoy having and bringing up girl children.
A sad majority of Indians would then NOT support girl children living lives where they can’t expect equality and justice.
They will no longer pass off injustice as ‘Indian family values’.
Women like Ananya, who suffer from Stockhom Syndrome, would not need to be grateful to their abusers when their slavish obedience and submissiveness is repaid with pat on the head. And what’s more, they will not pass on these slavish values to their sons and daughters. And that would be a positive beginning.
In short, if parents see that their daughters can have control over their own lives and happiness; that they can have a voice and it’s okay for them to choose if, when and who they marry, then parents would not see raising little women as an avoidable challenge.