This Blog provides an insight on the Kashmir-issue, India and Pakistan. The articles on this Blog can be best described as thought-provoking. The articles thrive to trigger debate about the miseries enslaved Kashmiris are facing and discuss also possible solutions to this long standing conflict. It also aims to convince readers why Independent Kashmir is the best solution for all parties involved.

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Why female infanticide?


Currently social activists express concern on girl infanticide. Sermons on social and moral reform made through print and electronic media make little impact. History tells us the initial matriarchal society gradually passed into patriarchal society sidelining the woman from all family affairs. Woman was to bear children and do home chores only.

History tells us that the practice of girl infanticide prevailed around 200 BC in Greece. Only one per cent out of six thousand families had two girl kids. Greek philosophers had their own views about women. Aristotle said that a woman in her nature does not enjoy full human person. Woman could not be trusted. Except for a few high class families, generally women were treated like beasts and slaves in Greece. Catholic Church borrowed the views of Aristotle as Christian tradition. St. Thomas Aquinas in his initial works called woman a net of Satan. Thus all satanic actions were attributed to woman. Priests in Middle Ages harboured same views. It was the Reformation in Europe which forced a change in this attitude. But French philosophers like Voltaire and Rousseau thought woman a burden on men who were supposed to take care of them. However, in his work Emile, Rousseau laid stress on educating women and recommended new ways of educating them.

With the onset of industrial revolution in England, women were forced to work in coal mines but were paid less than men labourers. In 18th century there appeared the Feminist Movement in Europe and some rights were conceded to the women which they did not enjoy previously. Previous and present centuries witnessed a revolution in the status of women who now have equal rights with men with whom they work side by side.  It gave exposure to their talent: they became pilots to fly planes and landed on moon. In all walks of life they proved their worth.

Now that the phase of their advancement and equality with men has been ushered in, there has cropped up the question of girl infanticide. Not only in India, even in China as well was female feticide practiced. A 1997 WHO report speaks of disappearance of 50 million girls. China has imposed ban on second child.  Birth of a girl child meant its infanticide. Nearly a million girls are killed each year in China and boy is considered a support of old age. Although a ban is imposed on ultrasound tests but in rural areas people pay hefty sums to get the sex determination by ultrasound. There is no woman for 111 million Chinese males.

For two reasons a girl is considered a burden among Indians. First, she cannot serve her parents in their old age because she is married and settled in her husband’s house, and second is dowry. In the backyard of Christian Missionaries hospital in Ratlam in M.P. 390 corpses of baby girls were discovered. In many Indian villages 2000 boys have only 59 girls. According to available information on an average 3500 baby girls are made victims of infanticide. In Tamil Nadu, 193 baby girls were killed in 1993 in one village only. UNICEF reported 8000 abortions in Mumbai in 1984. Out of this number, 7999 were females. Sex determination has become a lucrative business. Female population in Punjab and Haryana is 15 % less than that of males. In Jammu region males outnumber females. Some doctors are involved in the dirty business of sex determination though the government recently ordered closure of many private clinics for the same reason.

John Thor writes that female infanticide in India is centuries old custom and is not considered sin. In May 2010 a Palestinian male killed his wife for the reason that a second daughter was developing in her womb. He had already fathered three sons and a daughter and his brother had six sons. He was jealous of him. In her work titled Infanticides and Foeticides, Marina Porras writes,” Female infanticide is the intentional killing of baby girl to the preference of male babies and from the low value associated with the birth of females.”

Not to speak of India and China the developing countries, no fewer than 300 cases of Neonaticide have been reported from the US and UK. The strange thing is that no woman had to remain behind bars for more than one day for this crime. Mothers explain the cause of infanticide that first they are of very young age, poor and unmarried. Moreover we remain isolated from society. It means the female infants are killed in the US and UK because their mothers are unmarried and they have given birth to the babies without having married.

Fortunately Quranic teachings consider men and women as single humanity. It means it teaches that on the basis of humanity they enjoy a level in consonance with human nature. In the revolution brought about by our Holy Prophet 1400 years ago the woman was given a status not only as a complete human being but was also introduced for a holy relationship as mother, sister, daughter and wife. God Almighty says: Oh Man, we created you from a couple and distributed you into communities and tribes and introduced your identity. The respected among you is one who is an abstinent. (al Quran).  This proves that the rights of men and women are naturally equal. In another verse the Qur’an says: We created you from one soul and made couples out of you. Many humans were created out of this in the shape of males and females and then made them spread over the entire world. This clearly shows that God has identified males and females among humanity which means that in terms of humanism there is no difference between them.

In pre-Islamic Arabia life was very difficult in the desert with scarcity of water. Out of pressures of poverty Arabs of those days buried the girl child alive,

God Almighty has called the birth of a girl child as happy tiding. God says: When he was brought the good news of the birth of a daughter to his wife, his face would turn black and he felt ashamed. Was he to bury the girl alive?

We are told to believe that women in western countries are free. But we know she is put to flesh trade and tax is realized from that. Marriage has become a farce in the western civilization. While the woman was granted human status only in the 18th century, Islam granted it to her 1400 years ago. The holy Prophet has repeatedly said that one caring a girl child well would for sure go to paradise after death. Now the question is why do the followers of the holy Prophet kill the girl child in embryonic stage? Let us look for the reasons.

In many Kashmiri families girls are discriminated against boys in many aspects like education, food, dress and social freedom. Boys are given preference in these aspects. The fact is that girls do many more home chores than boys do and often take upon themselves the caretaking of a younger brother or sister. In rural areas women generally work in the field and on farms side by side with men. You will find them working everywhere in orchards, fields and farms. But despite that girl infanticide is rampant. Girl infanticide is becoming a critical issue for this society with the potential to bring it to the verge of disaster. This crisis cannot be controlled just by the sermons of religious leaders.

From the point of view of Islamic teachings the birth of a girl child is good news. I see in it the scheme of carrying forward the human race. It is only through a girl that the race of Adam perpetuates. The same girl when grown up becomes the mother and gives birth to great prophets, ascetics, intellectuals, doctors of divinity and scholars who are the instruments of improvement of the world.

Detested are the wretches who terminate the life of a girl child before it sees the light of the day. Indeed girl infanticide is a crime against human evolution. Who knows a human being born of the murdered girl child could have become a great doctor, philosopher, engineer, a religious divine or a good man.

What are the reasons?
1. Education is becoming costlier day by day in our society. Teaching standard in government schools has come down considerably. For this reason people want to send their wards to private and prestigious institutions.
2. Instead of girl, a boy is given preference for receiving education in the home because a boy is considered support of old age.
3. Marriage of a girl becomes a burden on her parents. Enormous expenditures are to be incurred on nonsensical formalities associated with the marriage of a daughter. For this reason marrying off a girl has become a ticklish issue. We have girls with post graduate degrees but still unmarried because their parents are not in a sound financial position. Many bride seekers want employed and serving brides. Dowry is so scaring that parents are not sure whether after giving good dowry their daughter will have a comfortable married life.
4. It is important that a girl is not underrated in comparison to a boy. Sense of security has to be created in the girl.
5. Woman deserves more encouragement so that she is attracted to various creative aspects of life like science, medical science and technology etc. They deserve to be given weight in admission to professional institutes.
6. Media hype should be given to the need for raising the status and respect of girls in society.
7. Governments should provide social and economic security to the women and children. Various concessions should be allowed to them. 8. Dowry should be strictly banned; wazwaan should be restricted or better dispensed with fully.
9. Religious scholars and Ulema should propagate the equal status given to women in Islam.

Essentially each member of society should shoulder the responsibility and make a commitment that he will not succumb to gender discrimination.

Article was published in Daily 'Greater Kashmir' on 15-07-2011