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Why does Female Infanticide Occur in India?
Female Infanticide, the systematic killing of the female sex, is a common problem in India. It occurs almost every day. Female infanticide directly impacts the male-to-female ratio within the population.
Statistics from The UN Children's Charity reveal that 2000 illegal abortions happen every year because the unborn child is a girl. As previously mentioned, infanticides significantly disrupt the balance between the two sexes, leaving more males and fewer females in a population.
What Causes Female Infanticide?
India is a developing country, so one would presume that a youthful population is highly beneficial to contributing to the economy. But in many areas across India, parents have this mentality that only boys/men can work. Women shouldn't work other than in their house. Their lives revolve around household chores and giving birth to children.
Parents fail to realize that women too can work and make their families proud. But no. Their thinking is that the "boys" will take care of them in the future, earning more for them than their daughter. As a result, they kill the unborn girls or dump them in trash cans once a baby is born and is a girl. The Atlantic revealed small babies were found abandoned in alleyways, temples, churches, shopping malls, parking lots, and also garbage cans. How much worse can the situation for women in India get? People need to start changing their mentality that women are lesser than men. In reality, they do more than a man. They give birth to a baby, do housework, and at the same time manage their work.
Another reason for the high rates of female infanticide is the fact that men have a higher earning power. Indian perception dictates that the men are usually the main income earners since they are more employable and earn higher wages than women for the same job. However, these people fail to understand that women can do the same.
The dowry system is another key reason why female infanticide occurs. Some babies are killed so that parents are free from paying a dowry. It is a tradition in India for the parents of the bride to give a dowry to the groom of his family. This dowry consists of valuables and large sums of money. Families in India don’t want to go through this financial burden and as a result, kill their infants. One must wonder why the bride does not get any money even though she too is educated. In India, the higher the groom is educated, the higher the price of the dowry is to be paid. Hence, the existence of this sort of system further promotes female infanticide.
Even though there are many problems regarding female infanticide, the government has passed strict laws to tackle the issue. In 1994, the government passed a law banning ultrasound scans to determine the sex of the baby, a crime that could result in three years of jail.
India has tried to tackle this issue in other ways as well. One initiative taken in the State of Tamil Nadu was to attack the underlying economic problems. Where parents had one or two daughters but no son, and either of the parents was willing to be sterilized, the government offered the parents money to help look after the children. This was paid annually for their daughter's education, followed by a lump sum on her twentieth birthday, either for a dowry or to fund their higher education.
What Can We Do As People?
We can change our perception of women and give them a high status in society. Until we do that, people’s perceptions of women will not change. At the same time, we need to bring equality to the world, increase pay for women so that they too can provide income to the family, and meet their own needs.
© 2022 Tushar