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Gender Selectiveness

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December 23, 2016

Why in news?

A Kerala newspaper offered ‘scientific’ advice for conceiving boys.

What is the current scenario?

  • Indian society has long had a preference for sons.
  • As a result, sex-selective abortion and female foeticide have led to the country having one of the world’s most skewed sex ratios.
  • According to the Census 2011, there were 914 girls to every 1,000 boys in India for children up to the age of six.
  • A report pointed to the fact that in the absence of prenatal sex selection, several families resort to repeated pregnancies in their quest for a male child and data has shown that at every family size, there were more boys born than girls.

What is the issue?

  • Fuelling the country’s obsession with sons, a newspaper in Kerala called Mangalam, last week offered “scientifically proven” advice on how to conceive a boy.
  • Among the advice offered by the newspaper are eating plenty of mutton, never skipping breakfast and always sleeping with the face turned leftwards.
  • The column contains more ridiculous food habits to be followed to “ensure male baby”.
  • Several women in the country even pin their hopes for a male offspring on what are known as sex-selection drugs.
  • Women are consuming these harmful drugs ­– linked to birth defects and stillbirths – without realising that the sex of a child cannot be altered in the womb.

What are the consequences?

  • The article in the Kerala daily just goes to show that gender selection is widespread despite initiatives taken by the Indian government, NGOs and health workers.
  • The message isn’t going through and the people still value boys more than girls.
  • Apart from the obvious gore in this practise, it also reflects a mentality that proves harmful to girl children, when the “escape” the sex selectiveness and enter the world.
  • Stereotypical gender roles that assign certain duties and ideal behaviour to people impact the way men treat women.
  • When children are exposed to an imbalanced power system from almost the day they were born, a sense of invincibility makes boys believe people will excuse their deplorable behaviour.
  • Children are not born violent, or aggressive or disrespectful of women. They learn to be so from grown-ups and other sources.

How prevalent is the crime among juveniles?

  • More and more young people are taking to heinous crimes such as rape are magnifications of this mentality.
  • Rape was the third most prevalent crime among juveniles in 2015 after theft and trespassing or burglary, says the National Crime Records Bureau.
  • In 2015, more than 41,000 juveniles were apprehended across the country, 1,841 on rape-related charges.
  • 1680 cases of rape were registered under juveniles in India under Section 376. Minors were booked in 88 cases of gang rape.
  • Moreover, as one of our columnists noted, notions of honour are central to the discourse on rape.
  • The rape of a daughter, sister or wife is a source of dishonour to males within the family structure. This deters the reporting of rape to the police.

What should be done?

  • In order to change the long-standing preference for sons, there is a need to first change the image of girls in our society.
  • Violence against women will not decrease unless there is a thrust on having a gender-neutral approach towards policies and programmes.
  • This is because investing in men is also a way of ensuring women’s empowerment, because a gender sensitive father, brother or spouse will positively impact women’s lives.


Category: Mains| G.S-II | Social Justice

Source: hindustantimes, The Wire



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