Question: At the core of the evil of female infanticide lies the “Dowry”. How far do you agree with the above statement?
Answer by Sunanda J. Chatterjee:
Female infanticide is a grievous sin and occurs in many parts of the world, but is most prevalent in India and China.
In general, the societies that practice female infanticide show other signs of gender bias including child marriage and sex-selective abortions. The more patriarchal the society, the more atrocities on women. In these societies, girls are more likely to be malnourished, more likely not to be treated for illnesses and more likely to be illiterate.
Female infanticide has multiple reasons. In traditional Chinese and Indian cultures, men are valued more because of their economic potential and the likelihood that they will take care of aging parents, while women are considered as ‘parayadhan’, or ‘someone else’s property.’ Taking care of a girl child has been compared to ‘watering someone else’s garden.’ A daughter will move to her husband’s house after marriage and will not help with her own parents’ care. What’s horrendous is that women will often perpetrate such atrocities on their own daughters an daughters-in-law, firmly believing that the male heir is inherently more valuable.
An important consideration, of course, is the dreadful custom of dowry. Not only is a girl child less helpful in bringing income, when she is married off, the parents must pay unreasonable sums as dowry, which often bankrupts the family.
A son, on the other hand, will earn money and provide for the family and will bring in dowry when he gets married.
In that context, the same cultures encourages child marriage; they are really ‘getting rid’ of their girl child. She is an extra mouth to feed and drains family resources and will not provide economic benefits later on.
Many societies also believe that it is the son who will perform the last rites and if there is economic hardship, the male child will be given preference.
What’s most astounding is that female infanticide or sex-selective abortions are also prevalent in middle and upper classes in India.
But in general, female infanticide is more an economic issue than a religious one since all religions condemn the practice.
Thus, ‘dowry,’ the chief economic challenge for families, is a huge contributor to the problem of infanticide.
Sunanda J. Chatterjee is the author of “Fighting for Tara”. Grab a copy of her novel from the link below:
With Great Love,
Er. Amit Yadav