In India there is indeed a mammoth problem of prenatal sex determination and elimination of unborn female fetuses. This menace is being tackled in many ways including stringent laws, social interventions in the form of awareness creating TV programmes, religious leaders fervently appealing people not to indulge into these activities and so on. But all these have met with limited success. Cynics have gone to the extent of prophesying that till the time that the monsters of dowry and inferior status of women in Indian society continues to be live, nothing can change this picture. However I was pleasantly surprised to see a beautiful change. It is possible that this might be just one sparrow and not really heralding the summer. But it was very real and heart-warming.
I just returned from a trip abroad. During this trip I could closely watch three families from India travelling as co-tourists. All of them were from very orthodox and conservative families of Northern India as their family name gave out. I noticed all of these families had two to three daughters each. It is well-known that these communities are rampantly plagued by the problem of prenatal sex determination and subsequent female feticide. However all three of these had only daughters. While talking with the parents they seemed to have no complaints about their having only daughters. They were very clear that there was no question of knowing the sex of the baby before birth leave aside eliminating the female fetus. “Sir what a shame on us if we from good families too start doing all this when we know it is not only a crime but also a sin” was their straight forward reply. Those who had three daughters did say that they tried the third time only hoping it would be a boy. But birth of the girl was not a pain though there was some despondency. But still they were clear – no question of prenatal sex determination and no question of female feticide. “Whatever God gave, we accept”.
There were some common factors in these families that I noticed. Ofcourse they all hailed from a very conservative and loudly dowry giving communities of India. They all were very moneyed, educated at least graduates and very religious people. In some recent programmes it has been shown on TV that in the Indian society people with these very qualities indulge in prenatal sex determination maximally. But it is also true that in any given society these are the very qualities of education, religiousness and well placed socio-economic strata usher in social changes.
I know it is too early to predict a change. I know this might just be an exception. But I fervently hope that this could herald a possible change in the offing. I know “Woods are dark and deep, miles to go before we sleep”. But let me end this blog with a small heart-warming feeling of hope – is there a change happening somewhere amidst all the gloom? I want to feel so!