Skewed sex ratio is not caused by sex selective abortions.

To truly understand girl baby hatred, please read Scaredy Cat’s email and his seemingly blasé responses to comments. This is how Patriarchy empowers the Parents of Sons. This Indian son (like millions of others) believes he is trying to be fair and gender neutral as he lays out clearly biased terms for a Prospective Bride and chances are his parents will find someone who is not able to refuse these terms.

Think about what exactly is this Indian son (like millions others) offering his life partner.  And exactly what Scaredy Cat gets out of this ‘marriage’.

Why doesn’t the skewed gender ratio enable Indian women to refuse such ‘marriages’? Because most Indian parents believe that an Indian daughter’s main goal in life is to Get Married and Stay Married.

Parents of little girls are heard saying, “Let her sleep/play/study/dress/have fun/avoid chores in her parents’ home because once she gets married and goes to her sasural (marital home) she will have to do as her in laws demand.”

Many parents also feel they must train their daughters for this tough destiny, some think it is their responsibility and dharma to get their daughters married. Nearly all Indian parents (and many women) accept marriage as a woman’s goal in life.

Once marriage is made her life’s sole purpose for one partner, but what Scaredy Cat has described for the other partner – it is easy to imagine why most Indian families don’t want to have daughters. For those who hold the traditional view, having a daughter means being prepared to raise a child whose chances of happiness are in control of families of Indian Scaredy Cats (or Shravan Kumars).

So if there was no way to selectively abort girl babies, India and China will still have a skewed sex ratio. Girl-child hatred is not new to these cultures.   Babies have been killed and buried in fields, left to die near garbage heaps, wrapped in wet blankets to cause pneumonia, drowned in milk or killed with neglect for centuries.

Take a look at some of the reasons these societies give for saving baby girls. Who would men marry if all the women are killed as babies. Sounds like a good reason to not kill daughters? When they can be wives of Scaredy Cats and Shravan Kumars why wouldn’t parents want to have daughters in these societies?

Another reason might appeal more to Indian parents, daughters can also be raised to be Shravan Kumars and Scaredy Cats.

Two news articles about skewed sex ratio which are (as usual) not talking about the real issue at all.

Dowry pours cold water on Chinese men’s hopes

By 2020, China will have as many as 24 million men of marriageable age who will not be able to find a bride

For generations, anxious parents in rural China, like those in India’s villages, prayed to the heavens for a son, reflecting the strong traditional preference for boys over girls.

In some Chinese villages, however, having a daughter is slowly becoming the rage, at least according to recent accounts of families having to shell out tens of thousands of yuan to find brides because of an alarming shortage of women.

The primary reason for this trend, scholars said, was an increasingly skewed sex ratio in China, with 118 boys born for every 100 girls last year — an imbalance that had been exacerbated by sex-selective abortions on account of the one-child policy that came into force in the late 1970s.

In India two couples fight over a boy baby.

Baby girl abandoned as couples fight for boy

A seven-day-old baby girl lies abandoned at the Umaid hospital in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, as two couples fight over their claims for a boy who was born on the same night.

But in a Patriarchal society you need a ‘heart’ to have a baby girl 😦

Gurgaon doesn’t have a heart for baby girls

Skewed sex ratio is not caused by sex selective abortions. It is caused by an unwillingness of the society to start seeing daughters (women) as real people with real feelings.

Related Posts:

Only when raising ideal daughters in law is not their goal, would Indian parents be able enjoy having and bringing up girl children.

Do you think this video can make Indian parents want to have daughters?


118 thoughts on “Skewed sex ratio is not caused by sex selective abortions.

  1. I think the fact that sex selective abortions were banned made them more popular or accessible. Worse the whole thing went underground and became more difficult for social workers to actually target and educate people who opt for sex selective abortions.

    The practice has also exploded in the well to do middle class of India who can actually afford such procedures repeatedly.

    Also in India we have a lot of sanctimonious humbug about not talking on issues of sex, childbirth and abortions. It is probably the same reason the government of India was caught napping before millions in India got infected with HIV. Only then did we see campaigns that spoke more openly on it.

    Even regarding sex determination, only after horrifying gender ration numbers is the government actually pushing for more social awareness instead of just making something illegal.


  2. “Parents of little girls are heard saying, “Let her sleep/play/study/dress/have fun/avoid chores in her parents’ home because once she gets married and goes to her sasural (marital home) she will have to do as her in laws demand.”

    Isn’t it surprising no parent ever pauses to think or question that?! Now let me go back and read the rest


    • My mother was told it was okay that she wasn’t ‘making’ us cook, since we were unlikely to get away with not cooking once we were married. And when I made a new lehenga-choli, one Diwali for my daughter and it was backless and I was told it was okay to let her wear such things now, because who knows if she would be allowed this once she grew up and got married.


      • I may get thumbsdown for this, but when I see my teenage cousins enjoying their lives now, I too feel the same way, who knows what kind of guys or families they will have to deal with after marriage. Really, when I see whats happening around me, I lose hope…


        • I agree with you…I also let my daughter have fun now although I do encourage her to help me from time to time…Who knows what her situation will be like in the future? Even if her in-laws and husband are good, she will have to contribute her time and effort to keep her household running even if it’s a nuclear one…


      • When I was newly married, my MIL told me it is better not to have girls- bring them up with such love and care, and then ‘give them away’ to some man who does as he pleases with her! Who knows if she will have a good life?!

        She should know. She came from a family of 11 siblings- all but two were girls, and married into a very patriachal family. Which it still is, to a large extent!:(


      • A lot of people think it is very virtuous to pamper daughters before marriage their logic being after getting married, girls won’t get such comforts. They consider themselves superior over those in favor of female feoticide.


        • To pamper daughters before marriage because they won’t get such comforts after marriage is just the kind of warped logic our society excels in belting out–the virtuosity is misplaced at best and foolish at worst.

          However, I don’t get what’s wrong with such parents considering themselves superior to those in favour of female foeticide. The way I see it, they ARE infinitely superior to those who indulge in sex-selective abortions.


        • STF,

          I simply dont get ur logic. Why on earth are you comparing people who kill the girl child, to people who treat their daughters with love and respect and nurture their independence. For all the parents who pamper their daughter before they are married because they might face difficult situations in their marital life, there are few sets of parents, who really value their daughter as a human being and love her for what she is. Believe me, those who value their daughter, don’t think they are being virtuous, just that they are doing the right thing.


      • yes, i was too told the same. that was the reason i colored my hair just before marriage not knowing what would happen later. i made sure that i wear only sleeveless during my post engagement period, so that my in-laws know that i wear such dress. luckily MIL asked me to wear jeans and tops after wedding. she thought that is more manageable for construction field like mine and asks me to wear only salwar and not saree ( because even her UN-educated cousin’s daughter wear only salwar in village and not half saree). she wants me to be modern in front of them. Whatever, my purpose was cleared) . but her only request was that i should not wear it in front of her mother.that was ok for me.


    • I remember what my Aunt used to ( or rather try to ) frighten her daughters with.
      She was finding it difficult to discipline her rebellious teenaged daughters.

      After giving up one day to make them listen to her I heard her saying :

      “Wait till you get married! Let’s see if your MIL tolerates all this nonsense from you!”

      Shail’s post reminded me of this.
      Today’s these girls have mothers in law who are scared of them!



  3. “Skewed sex ratio is not caused by sex selective abortions. It is caused by an unwillingness of the society to start seeing daughters (women) as real people with real feelings.”
    I second that. I think a large part of this attitude stems from the fact that we live in a predominantly patriarchal society where the belief that males have superior authority and power is entrenched. The conception of women as largely domestic beings, whose only duty in life is to produce children or be loyal to their husbands, further, lessens their worth as people in the eyes of society. People views their kids as economic assets and liabilities, trophies, and the larger social norms and constructs have forever portrayed women as liabilities even though for a long time they have not only contributed in domestic spheres but also worked as farmers, construction workers, teachers etc. In fact a lot of times they have been the prime drivers of their families including financially. Societal thought process and norms have relegated women to the status of second class citizens for a very long time and continue to do so in many ways. When there weren’t any pre-natal testing, girl child infanticide was common, if they weren’t killed during infancy, they died in 4-5 years because of malnutrition, and if they survived those years as well, they were married off as kids, made to bear kids and die while giving births. The point being that newer technology only makes it easier for people not to have girls, but it’s not the technology that’s killing, it is the wider social attitude. Women are people still remains a radical idea!


  4. This whole attitude of ensuring that the Indian girl gets married and stays married creeps into our lives so easily, that it is alarming.

    Once I was laughing about how daughter fell in love with some Swarovski crystals while window shopping. My friend replied, ‘At that price you could buy gold instead, and that would at least come handy in her wedding’! I was flabbergasted!

    And just like the examples you cited, someone shared something on FB stating that Indian men would be ‘forced to become gay’ if female fetuses, kept getting aborted.. Clearly a lot of people do think that being a wife is the only reason women are needed 😦


    • “Forced to be gay”

      The complete ignorance and folly behind that sort of statement is ample proof of our homophobic society.

      Homophobia and gender bias are 2 sides of the same coin – societies deciding to discriminate against certain sections (whether it’s based on gender or sexual preference is secondary ) of their population.


    • //This whole attitude of ensuring that the Indian girl gets married and stays married creeps into our lives so easily, that it is alarming.//

      My parents do know a bit of my marital problems, but I worry about telling them too much. As my father once remarked,”It is good to know that you are able to cope. Sometimes, when you don’t call for a long time, I feel since there is no news, it must be good.”


      • Yes, I can understand. Most Indian parents prefer a dead daughter to a divorced one. 😦

        Your father is fervently hoping that you will stay in your troubled marriage so he can live in denial.


      • My father hears me out as long it is just a rant, if I say anything about making my husband or in-laws unhappy, he starts worrying, and asks me not to say/do anything that displeases them. He becomes so afraid of my life that he thinks adjusting is the best way to keep everyone happy.


        • You need to ask your dad if he values your happiness more than societys judgement ?

          seriously talk to him and irrespective of adjusting or not. This will give you an idea as to how much he will support you. I say this because sadly there are quite a lot of indian parents who don’t value their daughters ultimate happiness , there is this “adjust for the common good”. syndrome.
          I cannot for the life of me understand how one can put a price of the happiness of someone you gave birth too ( or helped in giving birth too) . to me it’s unimaginable that a parent values something else over their childs happiness. i see a lot of parents saying they will give their life for their child, but when push comes to shove they will want their child to persist in an unhappy situation to maintaint he status quo… so nowadays when someone says i will give my life for my child, i take it wit a pinch of sal 🙂
          so sit down and talk to tyour dad, tell him your unhappiness an dsee how he reacts. trust me it will either be an eye opener or you have one heck of awesome parents . wither way good ot know.


  5. i would like to comment on the second link provided by you, one that says that two couples were fighting over a son leaving the girl child helpless. this incident happened in jodhpur. and the chief reason for this fight was the greed of the menial hospital staff (dais and ward boys) . they told the mother of the new born girl that she had given birth to a boy. this so that they could take” badhai” from the family. something that may not have been offered in most cases with a girl child. an hour later they were informed that they had a girl. how would any parent react? would you believe it? would you not raise a racket? this whole thing became an issue cause it was being fought over a baby boy.

    as for the girl child’s helplessness. her real mother who was not sure if she was her own child, offered to nurse the child to sustain her but the doctor refused to let her do so unless she declared the child to be her own.

    agreed that these same people may have not reacted in this way if things would have been other way around. but the fact remains that the confusion was genuine and cause due to external factors.


      • very true. i still shudder when i remember my MIL’s reaction to the birth of my second daughter. the first she had managed to “reconcile” with and even distributed badhai to family members. the second daughter was born at my mom’s place thank god”. and our neighbors did not know about it for weeks, till just before i was expected back. 😦 so i do know first hand how people react to the birth of daughters.


  6. I agree- Sex selective abortions are the result of the patriarchial mentality that runs deeps in our society. This mentality is the root cause of the effect that is sex selective abortions, giving rise to skewed gender ratio. Plus, the whole angle from which most campaigns target female foeticide is very weird. It is again from a man’s perspective. Save the girl child or else there will be no one to marry men. Save the girl child or else men will become gay!! Why dont we save the girl child because killing is wrong? Or because it is the right and default thing that needs to be done, because irrespective of gender, we are all born equal?!


  7. So many missing baby girls.. Do the people who practice such heinous acts stop to think about who these babies could have grown up to be? The country has lost such enormous potential by destroying them this way. We will never know if they could have been sports players, artists, writers, executives, social workers, politicians or just regular good citizens of the country. In my opinion this practice should be covered by major media outlets world wide. Let the people of the world know every detail about this shameful practice! All the pride that Indians show off about their ancient culture will be zilch. Then maybe it will make them stop and think! What kind of culture are you proud of that will kill an innocent human being, and what about the people who silently condone these things as they happen in their own families?

    Honestly, if I knew someone had killed their baby girl, I would be scared of them because if you are capable of such inhuman violence, then you are a real threat to society.

    (Sorry for the rant IHM, but this topic really makes me lose my cool..)


    • Just want to make a distinction here. Aborting is not the same as killing. People have a right to abort for whatever reason they please. The sex determination ban in India is against individual rights of a woman to make a decision on her own body. What is required is teaching men and women about women’s rights, not force them to have unwanted babies.


      • Yes I agree that abortion is not the same as killing. I was talking about infanticide actually. But what about that case in which they found female fetuses dumped in a well? Disposing of a dead fetus in that manner is definitely inhuman in my opinion.


        • I don’t know about dead foetuses or dead bodies, because I don’t really think dead people care what you do to them. Proper disposal of bodies is more for the benefit of the living, than for the dead. But I definitely care about girl children being strangled, suffocated or killed in any other manner. That is definitely evil.There was a report of a woman in Tamil Nadu who had killed EIGHT of her girls. And she was grinning on the camera. Honestly, I would have smashed the camera on her head.


      • There was a report recently that most Indians abroad have more baby boys than girls, clearly showing there is a sex-selective abortion. Also, it is reported that a lot of women go from rich families go abroad just to determine the sex of the baby.


        • This is true…. since abroad sex of the child is not withheld. So in my community too, the second child if girl is aborted on the basis of just that ….what i’ll do with another girl ? Instead, let me abort this one and try again for a boy….. Sons are considered waris and girls just another [ read husbands’ properties] it sears my heart when clerics and mullas talk like this in community majlis !


        • @Zahra – A college educated neighbor of mine had 4 girls one after the other, she was so tired and unhappy and once told my mother that she would rather be dead in child birth than bear a girl again. Her husband & family wanted her to have more & more children saying it is ‘God’s wish’, but in reality they were only wishing for a boy every time. She eventually had 2 boys but I remember how sad and afraid she was every time she got pregnant.


      • Fem, I agree. The PNDT Act is a knee jerk reaction.
        Banning sex-determination is a little like banning rape. Just because it is illegal doesn’t mean that it’s not happening.
        A more useful approach would be to increase manifold, funding for female literacy and women’s health projects.
        The government has no incentive to address the problem of gender discrimination.
        The men who run the government enjoy all the privileges of patriarchal power, why would they destablise a system that serves them well?


        • I think the logic in banning sex-determination is like banning the means to an end which is not a meaningless thing. So while one works on the reasons behind sex-selective abortions, one can stop making it easy for this to happen.

          The sad fact in India is that most legislation results in a grey market. But this in itself need not be a reason not to legislate. That would be like saying ‘why make any rules because noone will obey them’.


  8. Hey IHM, I am not sure how relevant you’ll perceive it to be but I want to point out something, I was wondering if news and discussions about sex selective abortions actually end up demonizing abortions per se, instead of the practice of aborting fetus, solely because it happens to be that of a girl child or the larger picture of male preference. I have had people say to me that pro-choice people are being hypocrites if they crib and cry about sex selective abortions. What they obviously don’t get is that pro-choice people know that these women are having abortions not because they don’t want the child, or can’t afford it as they just don’t feel capable or able to rear their children adequately at any given time, due to relationship, financial, lifestyle, health or emotional issues but because the child simply happens to have a vagina instead of a penis. The child isn’t the issue, it’s what’s between the child’s legs that is. This is about society’s projection of men being better than females, and females being more costly. I strongly feel that instead of banning sex selective abortions, we should target the attitude of the society at large because let us face it regardless of the laws, people have sex selective abortions and will continue to do so if such preference for males persists. I’d also like to point out how those save girls campaign are also heavily steeped in traditional beliefs and perceptions. They urge people to save girl child because if there are no girls, who’d marry those boys or who’d give birth to the next sachin tendulkar or amir khan.


  9. The problem is, as the heat is turned on ‘sex-selective-abortion clinics’ they simply vanish underground. Where, I hate to say, they continue to thrive. Make no mistake, such clinics are no less than committing murder and the fact they they chose a particular gender as a target make them even more worse.


  10. It’s funny but my mom use to say “don’t go into the kitchen and do work or chores, this is the time to do well in your studies and get a good education. You have the rest of your life to do cooking and cleaning”. I use to think most mothers were like this. When I got married my MIL would say “learn how to cook so that you can feed your husband and BIL good food”. I became sick once with what appeared to be a long term illness and her reaction was “You have to get well, what will he do if you are sick?” No concern that maybe I should get well for my own sake. Although I would hasten to add that she treated me very well when I stayed with her, but everything in her world revolved around her son and I was only put on this earth to cater to his needs.


  11. I’m going to make an extreme comparison here: Poison gas did not kill millions of Jews; the murderous hatred that the Nazis harbored did.

    It may seem insane to compare feticide to the Holocaust, but in many ways, the misogyny of many Indians approaches the antisemitism of Nazi fanatics. The Nazis blamed Jews for all their problems, we blame women. The Nazis stripped the Jews of their rights and freedoms, we do the same to women. The Nazis thought that the elimination of Jews was the only solution to the ‘Jewish problem’, our country seems to have arrived at a similar conclusion in killing infants that happen to be female.

    As Gargi has pointed out above, many of the campaigns intended to warn against infanticide/feticide are themselves deeply patriarchal. When I say this to people in real life, I am told that that doesn’t matter as long as they end up dissuading people from doing what they are doing.

    And that is the whole problem right there.

    Saving the girl child has never been an achievable end in itself and never will be. As long as there is patriarchy, as long as the skewed social dynamic prevails, as long as girls are considered a burden and little more than baby-making machines for another family, as long as all of these ideas are not, we will continue to have a skewed sex ratio.
    Infanticide is not really a social ill in itself, it is only a symptom of a much larger social ill, a social ill which is brushed under the carpet under such lofty euphemisms as “our culture and tradition”, the social ill of patriarchy, the social ill of deep rooted, socially-sanctioned, institutionalized misogyny.

    I meet parents, people of the middle-class who tell me how unfortunate they are because they’ll HAVE to pay dowry. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. These people pay dowry not because anyone forces them to, but because in their warped worldview, it is impossible to envision a woman as an independent individual, as someone who is not wedded to a faceless in-laws and his parents in tow, as someone who lives her own dreams just for the sake of living them. No sir, for she is a daughter, a future wife, a future mother, a future grandparent, a future mother-in-law, a future something, but never a person, never an individual. Therefore, she MUST get married by 23, she MUST have a child by 24, and she MUST bear a son by 25 and if she must do all those things, then it becomes necessary to beg and plead to the family of a male to take her in, to pay them for the privilege of having her as little more than a slave, to bow to them in humble subservience as though the genetic accident that led to their child being a male makes them all two-bit gods.

    What is this cultural pride we speak of? Is it to be reserved for only half of our people, only those that have a Y chromosome?

    I can set no pride in such a culture. I can set no pride in a society which denies its female members the privilege of existing. I can set no pride in a country, where even as I write nonsense, there are infants being murdered for being the wrong, unprivileged gender, there are fetuses being aborted because they have the wrong sex organs, there are mothers being forced to get rid of the very life that they have brought into the world.

    For the foot soldiers of patriarchy, there is no redemption.

    Damn them all.


    • Completely agree with the part about cultural pride. I see so many of these Indian cultural events held here in the US, with so many Americans gushing over how colorful our heritage is, and how exotic, and so on, and I think to myself, ‘Well if you knew what thoughts go on in the minds of millions of Indians, you would probably never want to interact with any one of them ever again.’ Not that Americans are saints, but the image that these shows project of India is a facade for the rot that lies beneath. Arre apna asli chehra toh batao…


      • I agree PGW! It’s frustrating to see people gush about Hindu Indian culture here, and glorify it like it’s a flawless thing, and extol the low divorce rates and what not. Especially if you compare it to the parallel vilification of Muslim culture! Sure, there are extreme Muslim sects, but the RSS exists too, and we’re no women’s lib champions! Sadly, most Westerners don’t see that. They have a very skewed perception.


  12. Yes so true, until attitudes change about the way females are viewed in Indian society this will not change. I believe I have read that in China girls are starting to be more revered because of the skew, yet I have heard horror stories of the opposite happening here in India, with scarce women being forced into “marriages” to a family of boys as a means to solving the problem of less women. The crux of this is exactly as you have said : “Skewed sex ratio is not caused by sex selective abortions. It is caused by an unwillingness of the society to start seeing daughters (women) as real people with real feelings.”


  13. I didn’t realise I was lesser than a boy until I met people who expressed their sympathy because my parents didn’t have sons. When I grew up, I found out that when my younger sister was born, my paternal grandfather refused to come to the hospital to see her – because it was just a girl (this despite the fact that he had four grandsons and this was only his second granddaughter). My MIL tells me that when her first child was born, my FIL was so sure that it would be a son, and when it turned out to be a girl, he was so upset he didn’t bother going to the hospital to see his firstborn.

    This preference for sons is so ingrained in our thinking that nobody even stops to question it and reflect on it. It is what it is. And I don’t see it changing anytime in the near future. The girl babies in this country are doomed.


    • My mother tells me similar stories.

      She was relieved when her second-born was a son.

      When I was born, my grandaunt predicted that my mother would bear only daughters because she came from a family with many daughters and few sons.

      In moments of anger, I curse this this wretched country. I pray that by some impossible miracle, only men be born in this “great” land.

      That should teach this “great civilisation” a lesson. NOT!


      • oh i actually said that once to a family that had only sons (biologically) and was proud of the fact : in this country, no family should have a girl unless her parents and family have performed a penance to have her. girls are blessings and you dont deserve them – because your family is cursed. 🙂 and i smiled after that. if i tel lu how i m related to that family, the gasp will double in size.


    • In addition, I wonder if these “son-worshippers” ever think of what a womanless society would look like?

      Until science discovers a way to have sons outside of female wombs, Indian society is stuck with women.

      How HATEFUL it must be to need so much, the gender that you hate so much.

      The only reason women still exist in India is because of our son-bearing wombs. That is the bitter truth.


  14. While I don’t agree with the method, I can see why the “men won’t have brides” is used as a plea against female infanticide. This is a problem with cultures where thoughts and values about life are based on conservative ideals; people don’t see the point of doing or striving for something beyond their immediate or future self interests. The “If it doesn’t help me in some way, I cannot be bothered” phenomenon where the concept of humanism and social justice is not understood.

    The idea of having a girl child with a plea for humanity and an infant’s right to life (regardless of gender) is incomprehensible to people who don’t understand humanity or right to life. So “Save the Girl Child” activists in such situations go for the lowest common denominator, save the girl because someone is going to need a wife. A more ‘lofty’ approach against female foeticide would work only if people understood the concept of humanity, the idea of children being more than investments and as future cogs in the wheel of society.


    • Absolutely – Most Indians are all about ‘What’s in it for me?’ No societal or long term visions interrupt their (our?) mean little lives.
      While we are all so called ‘educated’, big difference between education and literacy !


      • “A fool’s brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education.”
        – GB Shaw. Sums up the ‘educated’ in India perfectly.In India, religious mumbo-jumbo is taken for philosophy and spirituality, supersition (astrology) as science and as for art, the less said the better.


    • The argument between the “tactical” and “strategic” camps is an old one.

      All I’m going to say is that in my eyes, the battle to save the girl child has NEVER been merely about stopping sex-selective abortions and infanticides.

      The battle has been to make people see that a girl child is just as valuable as a boy. This is a much broader aim.

      A “save the girl child” activist who parrots patriarchal ideas in the hopes of bettering the sex ratio is doomed to failure from the very outset. Patriarchy is incompatible with the idea that a woman is just as valuable as a male, and without this idea being attacked directly, any gains made will be temporary and superficial. The girl child cannot be saved if society remains patriarchal. The lofty approach, I humbly contend, is the ONLY approach that has any hope of succeeding, and this approach is the only one that should be used.

      It may seem easier to couch things in patriarchal terms, but even if that line of action manages to save a few infants, it will ultimately succeed only in perpetuating the very ideas it preaches against, and condemn many more thousands to death in the long run.


      • I have personally interacted with activists who used both tacks and as unfortunate as it may seem to blogger ‘activitists’, the humanitarian plea doesn’t work in most cow belt cultures. They tried ‘field trials’ with both approaches spanning several decades and gather appropriate data to assess the effectively. The humanitarian plea, as unfortunate as it may be, has been largely effective because as I said, Indian people do not see beyond the “what is in it for me” mindset. The idea of doing something or trying to understand an issue from a purely impersonal perspective doesn’t make sense for them.

        To lay it out in perspective, I’d put out a few personal observations which may seem crude, but are painfully real. The majority of women involved in ‘save a girl’ campaigns do it because it resonates with them as a crime against the female sex. The majority of men on the other hand, are not in it because they are enlightened on the issue. They are in it either to ‘look good for the ladies’ or because they see a scarcity of women as a threat to their mating potential. I ran an international volunteer organisation Give A Support where almost all the male members were in for meeting ‘gori chicks’. They’d make appearances at the house parties and awareness gatherings, but when it came to actual TB or polio camps, most of them would do the disappearing act.

        Personally, I think online ‘activists’ and armchair idealists don’t have the right to criticise the tried-and-tested methods used by field activists. Field activists are result oriented people and understand issues on a deeper and more realistic level than people can understand discussing on blogs and news sites. On that note, how many commenters here ever bothered about the social, economic and sexual rights of the disabled people?


        • *gather appropriate data to assess the effectivity.

          I really need an edit function.


        • Atheist Indian even if one is not aware of/interested in/indifferent to any other causes, it is okay to discuss the one that one feels strongly about. If everybody had to be aware of every cause before they could speak/blog about any one cause, we would take a long time to even begin to talk about any issues.

          The appealing to better sense absolutely doesn’t work – I agree.

          What would work is ensuring that women are not deprived of opportunities to do whatever the society sees as worthy/valuable – be bread winners, support their families and parents, actively participate in social activities, be seen in public spaces, carry forward parents name, be able to work, marry, live, feel as safe as the next person etc

          So instead of appealing to better sense, I would like to see schools with toilets and easy education loans or free education, freedom to choose their partners, making it easier for women to stay single etc.

          These tested and tried methods – basically appealing to the parents and society, have not yet worked – infact nobody really seems to care if they work. There are villages where they are proud of not having any barat coming – they are smug that they can ‘buy’ brides for less than they pay for a buffalo. [Link- Four kinds of marriages in modern India. Which ones would you ban? ]

          Why do you think should bloggers not criticize or basically discuss the methods?

          Would like to know what you think of this post,
          So what could make even the average, selfish, money-minded Indian family welcome baby girls?


        • My examples weren’t to put down the cause that you are striving for. I simply highlighted that most people who fight for a cause in India are in it for vested interests, rather than a greater social concern that would appeal to a more humanitarian activist. On that note, the people in female infanticide cultures don’t see the plea of a girl child’s right to life as something they should be concerned about because as you have pointed out, girls in these societies are considered a burden rather than an investment.

          On a second read, I realise my comment might have sounded somewhat snarky and off. I apologise, I tend to get a little aggressive sometimes. Bad habit. I agree, improving women’s social, education and economic options would go a long way to improve the status of women in these societies and by effect, stop women being considered such a ‘burden’ on their parents. How could we go on to bring about such changes?

          The ‘bloggers’ part was my personal opinion on the issue. It does irk me at times when people theorise on the effectiveness of campaigns when their observations are purely idealistic and theoretical. Again, I might have gone a little off here, considering I have been a ‘blogging activist’ for the last one year or so. Time and work constraints. Anyway, I’ll check out the links you have posted once I get a break; I have to go for briefings.


  15. Hey IHM,

    I think you are getting a bit idealistic about pinpointing the reason for out of balance male/female ratio.

    This is not simply treating women as worse (or not worth the effort of bringing them up). This a systemic problem which has been legitimized by customs, traditions, practices, policies and equally important – lack of persistence and systematic actions that could be taken against the outrageous aspects of communal life in India.

    There is only a marginal group of activists and concerned citizens who have the mind and courage to admit that just because something has been practiced for 1000 years, it doesn’t mean it is good/moral/harmless.

    The rest of the society entertains a strain of habits, generation after generation, which only make the situation worse.

    Abortion is just one of the bubbles that burst into the public from time to time.

    On the other hand you have movies, TV shows, commercials and rigid educational methods that praise and advertise the “beauty” of life full of discrimination, captivity and abuse.

    India does not have or even want to have a plan against destructive social behaviours. India is too concentrated on making money on marketing its worst traditions and trying to counterpart the enticing image of the West with insane conservatism. India is scared that if people are let free to live their lives the way they want, there will be an outburst of social changes and political reforms which will destroy the privileges of higher castes, men and the rich.


    • YES! Your comment seriously just made me clap my hands. I agree with you 100%. Now, the question is: what can be done about this?


    • I wish I could put this comment in a frame and hand it to my ex. This is exactly what I have been thinking, but have lacked the courage to say to him because I know he will retort back that I have never lived in the culture. But forget it, I’m saying it. I don’t have to live somewhere to have an opinion/think critically and make an argument based on common sense that his cultural conditioning is clearly blocking.


    • “India does not have or even want to have a plan against destructive social behaviours. India is too concentrated on making money on marketing its worst traditions…”
      Quoted for truth. The attitude in mainstream India is (more money = better society).


  16. I keep wondering how many mothers would actually have the heart to abort or kill their daughters without social pressure. If there was no need to bear sons at all costs, why would any woman consent to such madness?


  17. This hatred of girls and women is so ingrained that in Canada in Brampton, which has a large Indian immigrant population, the government has noticed that the gender ratio is skewed and there are more baby boys than girls being born to Indian parents.

    It makes no sense. They come to Canada for a better life. Their daughters will have the rights and freedom equal to men. There daughters will have equal opportuntities in work and education. There is no dowery. They are not a “burden” but still they are aborting female fetuses. If Indians even in a country like Canada dont want to have daughters I cant see things changing in India anytime soon

    . Ladies, as Indian women, we are becoming an endangered species.


    • may be its a ploy .. a conspiracy endanger indian women…then cross the indus valley and get fair gori mems to give birth to fair and very fair ….. more sons and less girls…you know just enough wombs ! [ smirk,disdain intended !]


  18. abortion is itself a crime and then going bu gender-biased is all the more crime. i think abortion of girl child is merely due to pressure.
    1. dowry

    its ppl’s mentality that , after spending so much money on their education and living you need to get them married off by spending lot more money. in fact i was not allowed to do my masters as my grandparents felt that, if i do M.Tec, then i need an guy with masters degree, that means more dowry. luckily i got married to an non-engineer who didnt expect any money,

    but now there is a pressure on me to have a boy baby as i already have a girl. its just not my in-laws but also my parents who want me to have a second child and praying that it has to be a boy. when me and my hubby are happy with just one girl child.

    there are so many schemes given by govt, if you have a single child and that too if it is a girl. there is no school fees till 12 std. after telling this to my in-laws, they are happy and they dont want me to have another child.

    does a scheme decide whether i should have another child? and also what gender the child should be?


    • Hey ashreyamom!
      I Know you are entitled to your own opinion, so while you might never go for such a procedure, please don’t equate abortion to killing or a crime. While all of us might wish that pregnancy happened only to women who really want a child, who feel emotionally, physically and financially ready to care for that child, who have the necessary support to bring up that child well, and whose lives will be enriched as a result of their pregnancy, that is not the case for every pregnancy that happens. Rape, incest, fetal impairment, contraception failure, financial constraints and difficulties, emotional and physical health issues..There are so many reasons why a woman might go for abortion. So everyone should have the right to choose.

      The problem with sex selective abortion is that women are often “forced” to abort and the abortion doesn’t take place because a women doesn’t want a child, feels incapable of rearing a child due to health or emotional issues, relationship problems, financial or lifestyle issues, but, because the child has a vagina instead of a penis. It is a manifestation of a larger social problem and that is the widespread patriarchal notion that men are superior to women and bringing up a female child is costly and not worth much.

      In fact I will go on to say that our job shouldn’t be forcing people to have unwanted girl children, but weeding out the notion that males have superior authority and women are domestic being whose only job is to produce children and serve their husbands. I should know how it feels to be an unwanted girl child. Although my parents are liberal, the extended family is highly conservative and still taunts my mom for giving birth to me, I was often shabbily treated by my grandparents until my mom gave birth to my brother. Of course after he was born all their attention went to him. We are now estranged. I live with my mom, dad and brother happily now. One of my friends was born into an army family and her mom and dad disowned her all because she wasn’t a boy, she was later taken to Australia by her maternal grandfather and brought up there. These are the stories from high class educated families. I have been to villages, where unwanted girl child are treated in a much worse manner. Many suffer from malnutrition, their parents treat them disgustingly and they are often married off at small ages.

      Anyhow I sympathize with your condition. My mom was forced to try for a second child, even though my parents did not want to, all because their first child happened to be a girl and the extended family wanted my dad to have a son, so that his name could be carried forward. By the way if your understanding with your husband is great and you guys are satisfied with having an only child, both of you can convey the same to yours as well as his parents. Please don’t feel pressurized, go for it only if you want to and only because you want a child and not specifically a boy.
      Also if you weren’t allowed to pursue your masters, I am sure you can do it now or in future whenever you are ready. Getting an education or pursuing something you always wanted to should not have an age.
      All the best!


      • hi Gargi
        yes i agree with you.. but aborting for financial constraints is bad na.. money might not be there today. but we can earn tomorrow.. what if we are not able bear a child later??
        same was the situation in my family. and finally my parents had second rather third one also as daughter. so, grandparents couldn’t do anything but just accepted the fact.
        oh yes, my in-laws are great.. they want me to write GATE next year and want me to study unlike my parent. so, i am lucky to have good in-laws n hubby too.
        yes in case i want to have a second baby, i wouldn’t mind if its a girl and i am already ready with a name for her. :).
        talking about the ill-treatment. even i faced it. my cousins who are boys were treated much Superior to me by my grandparents. i was asked to do their work also. but later when we grew, my granny understood her mistake and now she
        like girl children also.


        • Hey again!
          Well let’s just agree to disagree here. Some people are poor and too ill-prepared to manage themselves with whatever money they have and often feel that bringing another person into the world would only add to their burden and wonder what the point of it is anyway when you can’t adequately provide for the child. There are so many reasons for why people choose to abort, reasons we might not be able to think of or understand. Now I or you might never go for an abortion in such situations, because our rights to choose for ourselves entitle us to make that decision. Similarly, the same right to choose allows the other women to make whatever decision she thinks is best for herself, her family or as per her circumstances. You and I might judge them, but I shall never impose my views on them because there is an equally legitimate decision.
          I would like to quote some lines from an fbomb article here- The right to choose means “A woman has the right to be abstinate. A woman has the right to have sex. A woman has the right to take birth control. A woman has the right to refuse birth control. A woman has the right to conceive, and give birth. A woman has the right to raise her child, with or without a father figure. A woman has the right to put her child up for adoption. A woman has the right to adopt. A woman has the right to terminate her pregnancy. A woman has the right to choose what is right for her. And what is right for one woman may not be right for another.”
          Obviously one way to reduce the number of abortions is to talk about prevention, contraceptives. “What method is right for a person is highly individual: we all have different lifestyles, personalities, agency, sex lives, relationships, health histories and one size does not fit all when it comes to contraception. The best method for anyone is always going to be the method that particular person can use properly and consistently, can afford and access, which fits best with their own life and health history, needs and concerns and is as effective as they want and need it to be.” –Scarleteen
          Such information isn’t accessible to a lot of women and even if it is, some just can’t afford the contraception that suits them the best; often their partners are not willing to use contraception. Also we shouldn’t forget that sometimes contraception fails.
          Anyway I hope you get my point. And let me tell you it’s great that you have got such supportive in-laws and a nice husband. I really appreciate their efforts and your willingness to study further and I am glad that your grandmother realized how wrong she had been. You have my best wishes 🙂


    • @ashreyamom: I’m going to disagree here and point out that legally, abortion is not a crime, unless it’s after the 20th week. Morally, the whole world is divided on that topic. I for one feel that giving women more control over their bodies is far from a crime.


      • ” It only gets a life (heartbeat and nerves) in the later stages of pregnancy, when abortions become risky, anyway.” Fem, I am shocked that you believe this. A foetus has a heartbeat that can be seen and heard as early as the 6th week.


    • “abortion is itself a crime” – No, it is not. It is (or ought to be) a fundamental right of a woman to do what she pleases with her body, and this includes putting an end to any unwanted pregnancies. In spite of having suffered so much, I fail to see why you wish to now take away other women’s rights over their own bodies by declaring abortion is a crime.


      • yes FEM and Ramya, i agree that we have right to do what ever we want to our body.. i am more considerate about the life of the little one wanting to come out and live…
        it is acceptable if it is for any medical reason..
        but abortion in the name of unwanted pregnancy is nor fair. at least for me. people can as well take precaution rather than killing a life. i am sure we are in a country where people talking about animal welfare and not killing them etc etc.. then fetus also has life. i don’t think we can kill it for our convenience.
        i am also thinking of the people who want to have kids and are unable to conceive one. then you would not think of killing one.
        again talking about unwanted pregnancy
        1.girl under 18 yrs not knowing the consequences getting pregnant: for that educate the kids and make sure such things dont happen
        2. girls getting pregnant due to false love or relation before marriage( as it is not acceptable in put society yet. that itself is another debate); then take precaution is the statement.
        3. ladies who have kids, or the gap between two pregnancy is less etc etc: again u need to take precautions. here, after knowing the consequences i f they dont take precautions no body can help.
        4. health constraint. : say hormonal prob or baby has some defect which is incurable . such things we dont have control. then if the doctor suggests, then i think u can think about it.
        or else abortion is a crime for me. it is nothing but killing a life. :(.
        anyways it is my view . there can me many people who differ from me.

        or else for me, abortion is a crime.


        • Abortion is not a decision parents (or mothers) take lightly, it’s often traumatic for the mother – I think the mother (like everybody else) should be able to choose what to do with her own body. What I find wrong is when married Indian women are made to use abortion as a substitute to contraception – I know of several Indian women who have had more than one abortions because the husband or his family didn’t believe in using contraception.


        • IHM,

          i didnt see that till now in my life. using abortion as a means of contraception. how sad.. do they really know the health and cost implication on it. sad ..


        • Trust me when I say this no woman is going to try to become pregnant for the sole reason of being able to go run out and get an abortion. If there were no rape, incest or fetal impairment cases and everyone had access to birth control and all the methods we had were 100% effective, and there was no lack of cooperation around contraception in sexual partnerships, all pregnancies would be wanted. However even if every wanted pregnancy remained wanted, it is certainly possible that many women would still want and need abortion. Life doesn’t become static while one is pregnant, ones circumstances can always change, so even though abortion would be the last thing one wanted, yet one might still decide to terminate, usually based on very serious or grave circumstances.

          The point her ashreyamom is that while you are entitled to your own opinion, you wouldn’t approve of such a thing for yourself and you might even judge those people, every woman has the right to make a reproductive choice she deems right for herself.


        • If abortion is a crime for you, don’t do it. Do not advise others against it either. There are many, many reasons a woman will choose to abort, and none of them includes aborting for the fun of it as you seem to think. So such advice and opinions are not helpful to women already suffering.

          “then fetus also has life” – Nope! It only gets a life (heartbeat and nerves) in the later stages of pregnancy, when abortions become risky, anyway. In the first couple of months, when most abortions are performed, a feotus is just that – a feotus.

          People can differ in opinion from you and that is acceptable. I have friends who will never abort, but they do not go about making such blanket statements, trying to influence others. Doing so is not acceptable Do keep in mind women already get a raw deal. If you go about saying they shouldn’t make decisions on their bodies, except in case of illness, it will only confuse them further


  19. Sex -selection is because of attitudes and also because of the pressure society , extended family and the parents themselves feel.
    We have 2 boys – twins and when i was pregnant – first we wished we had a few more years before kids!!! but then whats done was done and then we hoped to have 1 child only – boy or girl and realized i was carrying twins !!! then we consoled ourself that maybe it’ll be a boy and girl ( ideal family 2+2 🙂 ) . we were travelling abroad when i was a few months along and my husbands friend is an ob-gyn in sweden and he said he could tell us the sex, my husband didn’t care i was dead eager to know. i thought my head would explode if i didnt and boy were we dissapointed, pretty much ruined the vacation for us. since now we knew it was 2 boys and we were 100% sure we will not have any more kids. so no chance of girls , it was sad, took me a while to get over it, since i had visions of being an ideal mom an draising my daughters to be independant , choosing her own mate etc., etc., so much so that we didnt mention anything to anyone when we got back, a few friends knew we had an ultrasound and they all thought we were having TWIN GIRLS !!!! hence the reticence to share the info…
    these were quite well off and educated people who actually felt bad for us 😦
    They don’t to this day understand why we waren’t happy to have boys. we were very happy to have healthy kids but someone not going to put a girl ever put a damper on our happiness + we both didn’t want to deal with twins and twin boys at that…

    My friends tell me i can always treat my DILS’s as the daughters i never had, but now when i sit and think about it, i don’t necessarily want that, i don’t think i can take grown adults and make them daughters . I just want them to be good friends with me , adult to adult , love my boys , be loved in return and live happily, they are someone’s daughters and they can stay that way.


  20. As the adoptive mother of a girl that was discarded in China, I wish women who abort baby girls would know that there are families all over the world that would adopt those baby girls and give them wonderful homes with bright futures. I’m in the United States but I met families from Australia, England, Norway, and Canada when I was in China picking up my daughter. Those families were also adopting girls from China. What a shame to abort a healthy little baby when there are so many in the world who would love to have that baby as part of their family.


  21. IHM, I think that being anti-women is not a uniquely Indian or subcontinental phenomenon. It exists in every patriarchal society. I just finished reading Mona Eltahwy’s piece “Why do they hate us” (,0). While she writes about the Arab world, she makes a very valid point. Most people from traditional societies tend to treat any criticism of that way of life- no matter how well founded as a personal insult. “The West” becomes the monster being blamed trying to culturally dominate these societies- these arguments are the same whether it is Tunisia or Saudi Arabia or India. They always argue Our culture is not like this. It is only “some” people who do these things. External influence is “bad”- even if it is an influence that tries to liberate our women. And a lot of women collude in this oppression.
    I think it is not an unsolvable problem, though- it will solve itself over time. Unfortunately the pace of change is very very slow in traditional societies and a lot of meaningless oppression and suffering will take place before women get their due there.


  22. Dear blogger, the reason is pretty deep and biological. Having a son, increases the possibility for the genes of mother and father to spread further. For the son, there is a chance that he can impregnate many women thereby propagating his genes and also that of his parents.

    So the evolution has “psyched” the parents to want for a male kid. This is not patriarchy or “conditioning”..but only Cold biology


    • Dear Commentor,

      Here’s some more cold biology. Only the mother knows that the child is truly hers. The ‘father’ can only take his partner’s word for it. Only recently have DNA tests become possible, and they are not done as a matter of course.

      Therefore, only women know for sure that their genes are being passed on. My mother will always know I am her daughter, my father has to assume that I carry his genes. When I have children, only I know that they carry my genes for sure. My mother will also know that my children carry their grandmothers’ genes. And so on.

      Therefore biology dictates that women are a safer bet for passing on their genes. Evolution should have psyched our society to want daughters – what guarantee do you have that your son’s children are really his? This is not matriarchy or conditioning – it’s only the Selfish Gene. 🙂


    • Actually considering in the wild, many male mammals kill male babies because they will be a threat to their leadership (alpha male), it’s not really biology at play here.. If that was the case, men would welcome daughters..


      • Also, daughters carry more paternal geners rather than sons. Sons may carry the family names, but genes? That’s another story.


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  24. Many parents also feel they must train their daughters for this tough destiny,

    i was surprised for certain words used in a blog, i have few questions to ask for yourself
    first how many total abortions happening and out of that how many on gender bases if so on which gender and what ratio ?

    how many hate girl baby and how many like girl baby ?
    what is tough destiny in above line ? is your mother feeling tough destiny, do you even rise voice against your mother on any issue in your total life?


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