Female Infanticide: An Issue Worth Exploring

With India’s rise to First World economic status, the “growing pains” of a rapid ascent in prosperity often become evident. A rich and under-appreciated culture is held back by a paternalistic mindset.

I am proud of my South Asian heritage, even amidst all of the media portrayals of Indians. Either India is referred to as the “call center capital” of the world, or we as a people are considered over-educated and undervalued. There is a another and darker side that is rarely spoken of,  let alone heard, of in the civilized world. One issue that needs to be more prominent in the world is female infanticide.

Female Infanticide is defined as the deliberate act of killing a female child, and it began in the 1780s. In India, as well as other developing countries, women are viewed as a liability – not worthy of their rightful place in the world. Abuse perpetrated against the female is hardly a new topic, but to terminate a pregnancy simply because of gender is deplorable.

According to The Economist,

“Sex selection abortion is one of the largest, least noticed disasters in the world. Because of males’ greater vulnerability to childhood disease, nature ensures that 105 boys are born for every 100 girls, so the sexes will be equal at marriageable age.”

In India and China, a son is preferred for several reasons: to carry on the family name, inherit property and, light the funeral pyre which is only allowable by the eldest male child during a cremation.

As a fairly liberal New York woman, I fully support a woman’s right to choose. That said, the abortions carried out in India occur after it is made known a female child is in utero. The alarming and escalating situation further enforces a mentality that a male child that is considered the only viable option. Gender selection begs the question, what will happen to women in general?

UNICEF states that in the states of Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana, 5% of girls were “eliminated.” Within the span of a decade, that figure has jumped to nearly 15%. 7,000 fewer girls are born every day.

In her book, Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, Mara Hvistendahl asserts that what started out as a population control tactic quickly became an obsession of Western Policy makers. Through tremendous aid and donations, the very first amniocentesis tests, which initially tested for genetic abnormalities, later became used for identifying fetal gender.

Sabu M. George, an activist with 25 years of experience, asserts:

“There are highly organized and vested investors, a powerful lobby of doctors and companies selling ultrasound machines that cater to the sex determination market.”

Western influence will not stop this perverted practice. However, through education, concerted effort and focused attention, more light will be shed upon his hidden and horrific tradition.