How can women-folk want to abort girl children, they are female too!

So how can women-folk want to abort girl children, they are female too!

They can because it is not Men versus Women. Patriarchy and related social evils (preference for male children, dowry, honor killing, forced marriages, joint families, female infanticide and feticide etc) thrive because some people – both men and women, benefit from controlling the lives of many other people (both men and women).

In a traditional set up, parents of sons generally benefit from patriarchy and so if they want such benefits badly enough, whether they are mothers or fathers, they both would be willing to abort a girl baby.

Why is it thought that a mother would be reluctant to abort a female fetus because she was a female fetus once? She is at no risk of being aborted anymore. If there are consequences the man and the woman would both suffer from them.  Say if their son doesn’t find a spouse because there aren’t enough women, or if their daughter is sexually assaulted, then the father and the mother would both be affected.

It’s true that Patriarchy oppresses women much more, but this gender bias does not benefit all men (or harm all women equally).  Do fathers-of-daughters, or sons-of-victimized-mothers, or men who can’t marry the woman they love  benefit from gender bias or Patriarchy? Also, patriarchy encourages women to ‘have’ male relatives – sons, brothers, fathers, even cousins and uncles and husbands (something they have no control over) – thus encouraging female feticide.

Patriarchy benefits some men and some women, and so some men and some women support it in various ways, like by aborting female fetuses or by blaming rape victims (to continue to control women’s lives and sexuality, feel good about themselves as Patriarchy’s loyal foot soldiers, amongst many other reasons).

Controlling women’s freedom and sexuality also forces men to be providers and protectors for adults who should not have needed to be provided for or be protected. It also deprives many men of wholesome relationships with women.

In the long run, Patriarchy benefits nobody – not the individual, not the community. A community is made up of individuals and unless the happiness of all the individuals is valued, the community has failed – like ours has. Nobody really remains unaffected like Amir Khan explained so simply in Satyamev Jayate, episode one.

Some more facts.

Parents and families who abort baby girls are not doing this out of love for the male child – this kind of parenting mind-set sees a child as an investment or a commodity.

Men can hate other men (or women), women can hate other women (or men).

I think some of us accept without questioning what culture/tradition/custom/religion/great grand parents/society etc has passed on. And some of us question and think, no matter what kind of environment they grew up in. And  Education and even IQ levels don’t seem to matter as much as attitudes.  (Maybe because our education doesn’t seem to encourage thinking and questioning?)

It seems it’s mainly the mindset that matters. It’s not uncommon to see narrow minded, prejudiced, insecure and controlling people in families where everyone else is liberal and respects individual rights. Or more commonly, exactly the opposite – one family member who doesn’t understand why some people’s happiness is less important than other people’s happiness. These are the people, men and women, who have spoken against Patriarchy and fought for reforms.

Related posts:

A woman is not a woman’s worst enemy. Patriarchy is.


34 thoughts on “How can women-folk want to abort girl children, they are female too!

  1. Have heard of a case where the midwife tried to dip a 2 days old girl baby in chest deep boiling water for few mins to kill her (the baby luckiy survived though)…So like you said mindset and sometimes in cases like this profit matters…


    • I agree – but also consider, if families did not want their baby girls to die, then those who want profits will change their tune and start expecting profits through bakhsheesh for a baby’s birth instead of through killing her.


      • If the daughters take care of their own parents instead of abandoning them. The sons don’t need to worry as their sisters would take care of their parents.
        Since it’s the women who do the actual caretaking – cooking – cleaning feeding etc , unlike sons who don’t involve themselves in day-to day problems.

        There would be no- saas bahu drama- no dowry demands and fires and no fights. The mother would like to help the daughter and vice versa. Daughters would be vauled.

        There would be no female foeticide- and the skewed ratio of girls and boys would balance out since Now every parent would want a daughter who will take care of them.

        And anyway, son-in-laws are treated like royalty by the daughter’s parents – so there would be no drama on that forefront.

        time for a change in the 21st century.


  2. I totally agree that education or IQ levels have no role whatsoever in helping us behave rationally, it all lies in our mind set, our way of looking at things and the logic (if any) we use before deciding how we want to act in any particular situation.

    Blaming social beliefs and trying to justify our actions on the grounds of traditions is a lame excuse. As you rightly pointed out, society is nothing without individuals. Where individuals are at a loss of happiness, basic values and even of life itself (in cases of feticide and infanticide) the society can never be at gain no matter how hard we try to justify our deeds.

    The change has to begin at individual level, for it all lies in our minds and our deeds.


  3. People are averse to change IHM. We think it is bad manners to question traditions and customs which we take pride in calling our culture. I don’t think anyone has really thought of what our culture really is and if we want to have a change in it. It’s a very wide topic and I’m sure most people who use internet are sane enough to understand this. But there are people who are outside of the internet, and it is their thoughts that need to change.
    And the first thing that we need, right now, is RESPECT for each other. No matter how wrong the person is according to your beliefs, you need to respect his views. I think it’ll take a long time to even get this into people’s minds.


    • I think there is a thin line between respecting someone’s views, and challenging their views/limited beliefs in the name of progress. They may not ever agree with you, but at least you might be a voice in their head. I think we have to challenge views respectfully, but never respectfully decide to stay mum on these important issues.


  4. I volunteer with an NGO that works for the girl child so have talked to women who do this. Most times it is not the would-be mother’s decision to abort or abandon the female foetus/child. She is literally forced to.
    We run an orphanage for abandoned girls. One of the children is V, now a brilliant 18-year old. Her mother had two daughters already and was told by her MIL, a fairly well-do-to sort, that she could go back home from the hospital only if the third child was a boy. The mother had to abandon the newborn V because she thought at least the older two would get a home.
    This is just one example.


  5. Just thought I’d add what I read in yesterday’s newspaper (Pune Mirror). Sharmila Tagore thinks Saif is ‘morally’ responsible for her, Soha and Kareena now that Mansoor has passed away. She did not use it as a general thing i.e. every member in a family is responsible for the other members but rather used it in a specific context (Mansoor’s demise). So when women of stature who exert tremendous influence on society (she used to head the Indian Censor Board) are such die hard fans of patriarchy it seems an equal and egalitarian social fabric is too much to ask for. So yes, I too completely agree that IQ or education has absolutely no bearing with peoples’ attitudes.


    • I am not really surprised, didn’t expect much better, wonder if her daughter Soha also feels that way… 😦
      I would like to hear what Bipasha Basu, Preeti Zinta or Deepika Padukone might think.


    • I think she was playing to the gallery.

      I’ve never understood why Hema Malini, Jaya Bachchan and Sharmila Tagore go to such lengths to come off as the quintessential “Bharatiya Nari”.

      Umm, shot’s taken ladies, so quit mouthing rehearsed lines.

      I love the movies that they did in the sixties and seventies; and am really disappointed when they make such asinine statements in the media.

      Maybe their screen personas were more likeable than their real life selves. 😦


    • I think most women think of “being taken care of” as a very nice thing, which adds to the ‘feminity’ as seen in a traditional way. As I also commented on one of the previous posts, it all starts as young girls are made to read fairy tales where most often than not, a weak, delicate woman is save by a brave knight/prince. From very early on, it is seen as something to be thankful for..that someone is there to take care of us and to rescue us. I tell you, self help is so under rated today! All of us men, women are ‘morally responsible’ for ourself. Our husband or son or daughter or anyone else is not morally responsible for us.


  6. I agree, they see children as a liability vs an investment and unfortunately for the majority here girls continue to be a liability – For the obvious reasons such as dowry and patriarchy – things will not change unless we identify the root cause and try to eradicate that.
    But somehow I cant get over that female doctor in the sting operation they showed in satyameva jayate very nonchalantly telling the lady that even if the baby is born there are so many ways to kill it .. She was so cool about it .. chilled me to the bones …


  7. How come nobody asks why so many of the Indian royals supported the British against Indians – after all they were Indian too? Or how come some tribals ‘sell-out’ to the corporates or the government – after all they are tribals too?
    Why do we only expect women to be these super-sensitive creatures who care for each other – Aakhir ek aurat hi ek aurat ka dard samajh sakti hai.
    Why is abortion supposed to be more abhorrent for the mother than the father?
    Women abort female fetuses because sometimes they don’t have a choice – their parents preferred to save for their dowries rather than making them self-sufficient and their in-laws/husband will not accept a baby girl. Sometimes they might have a choice to put up a fight but may not do so because they don’t think it’s worth it. Because they also truly believe that everyone is better off if they give birth to a son.


  8. //Controlling women’s freedom and sexuality also forces men to be providers and protectors for adults who should not have needed to be provided for or be protected. It also deprives many men of wholesome relationships with women.//

    Agree completely. It is a sad situation. The men, though, seem not to realize that things could be so much better if they look at the women as human beings with many facets, not just someone to keep their house and bed.

    Also keep the women concerned trapped in a place where they just exist, not live.


  9. I think it is a matter of education. a few of my uncles were so patriarchial ( don’t have contact with them now) but evena few decades ago, they treated their wives like maids. event hen 1 uncle had a wife who worked and yet she came and did seva for him and his parents ( when they lived with him) , she passed away later after suffering from parkinsons and the uncle suddenly realised how hard it was to raise a son – even though he was in his teens by then. Now the son is married and the uncle never learnt his lesson. he treats his DIL like a maid. wanted her to stay home since the son earns enough but wanted a highly educated DIL. someone suitable for the family. his son though was a free spirit , remembered what his mom went thru ( of course helped along by us 🙂 ) and married his ‘ JAAN’ the dad of course blames me. the pioneer of love marriage, the pioneer of ‘not respecting elders’, the pioneer of ‘ running away to get married’ etc., etc., seriously i never ran, we took a car and drove to tiruvannamalai to get married and then flew to bombay so i don’t know where the running myth came in.
    anyway some people never learn life’s lesson, they go on with blindfolds. the uncle now is old and laments his fate to everyone, he never paid for his son’s education or provided much emotional support, yet the son keeps him in comfort, provides wholesome meals, both take the time to chat to him and provide him with transport if he needs to visit his brothers and yet.. he complains about his ‘no sanskar DIL’ – her fault, she works, and lives life per her desire AND makes sure he is comfortable.

    He will never change, no amount of life’s hard knocks, i don’t see any solution to this. the only saving grace when he passes on, he’ll take his patriarchial mindset with him. hopefully the next generationw ill be spared.


  10. A few issues at hand, why in the Indian context fighting against patriarchy is more than tough:

    1) Education is understood in a very poor academic sense. University is a place where people cram for the exams, without any sense of holistic development of an adult personality. It’s usually 4-6 years of engineering on daddy’s money and mommy’s lunches. Extension of childhood with a short expiry date. After such experience who wouldn’t feel obliged to pay the parents back? Especially when you have no earned money yet, you can only pay them back in blind obedience. If you look at a stretch of 3 generations – that’s a big problem.

    2) People don’t have kids out of love. They have them, because it is expected from every couple to produce offspring and it is a common belief that when kids grow up, they will take care of the parents in every possible way – especially financially. Children in India are like a retirement plan, health insurance and social security taken together. People do not discuss being ready for parenting, family planning, contraception. With this approach to parent-child relation, who would want to have a daughter?

    3) Restricting and controlling female sexuality has always been the most primitive and narrow-minded way of holding a strong grip over a larger community. You can see it in almost every religion and so you can see it in almost every collective society. It takes eons to realize that individuality is something you cannot trap. Let’s say India is not there yet.


  11. I can see that our parent’s generation believed that girls are a load on the parents. However, I assumed that this thought would not pass on to the next generation. But horror of horros, it has. I would blame this generation for sure , for not seeing things like they should be and following their parent’s views like blindfolded fools.

    This reminds me of the experiment with the monkeys in the cage and water splashed on the monkey whenever it tried to climb out of the cage. I think I read it in IHM’s blog.


  12. I find it interesting, and horrifying, that Indian society will do more to protect a cow, than they will a woman, or girl-child.

    Someone brought up this irony a few posts ago, but I feel it is worth mentioning it again. It is interesting that cows are permitted to wander the streets freely, but Indian women are not. It is interesting that a cow is seen as sacred, yet a woman, the giver of life who without, there would be no Indian sons either, is seen mostly as a commodity.

    I don’t care how old the culture is. Doesn’t make it right. In fact, I would venture to say that if things have remained the same for thousand + years, this might be a cause for a red flag. Change is the only constant in our lives, and we are meant to evolve. So what happens when a culture never evolves? Never changes? Continues to harm more than nurture?


  13. Pingback: Can we blame everything on patriarchy? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  14. Pingback: Why do we never talk about sisterhood, about women defending one another and supporting each other? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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