The horrifying gender discrimination stories made me really thank God for giving me a family that supports gender equality. Well, that’s what I thought before I got an insight on what my family really believes in. Well my parents are great. They have no issue on me and my sister being girls. The problem is my paternal grandmother. When my uncle had his first child -“unfortunately” a girl – my grandmother didn’t eat for 2 days. Want to know why? She was angry at the Gods because in spite of her devoted faith, God didn’t heed her prayers! Both her sons have daughters. Why did God not relax the rules and given at least one boy?
The birth of my cousin sister was a full on tragedy. I and my sisters are not the only victims here. Every Indian household has the same story. When a boy is born, people exclaim celebrations. A boy means insurance for the family. He would carry the family name forward plus provide monetary help for the family. What can a girl do? Well, she is just a burden. She can’t even protect her family name, let alone work! I have seen women cry their hearts out when they find that their newborn is a little girl! How low and shameless can that woman be who in spite of being a woman herself blames her fate for being given a girl as a child?
Imagine being a small girl and seeing your parents give new clothes to your elder brother in Diwali while you get nothing? At this very moment, this young girl is bound to forge her new identity. She starts thinking she is worthless. She begins to feel inferior and tags herself to be second-rate. In such a scenario, you can never expect the girl to live up to her full potential.
How bad is gender discrimination? Well its bad, real bad even at the global level. Statistics have shown that girls face discrimination more in the developing countries. Poverty-stricken families see their girl child as an economic predicament. This viewpoint has resulted in a complete neglect of the girls in countries like Africa, Asia and South America. Women breast-feed the baby girls for a lesser time than the boys so that they can get pregnant pretty soon enough with a boy! This has led the girls to be neglected in basic nutrition which leaves them weak and fragile. This continues even after they grow up. They get less food, no healthcare and on top of that they have to endure the abuses of fellow men.
Infanticide and sex-selective abortion are common in the developing countries. Statistics brighten the picture even more. Jaipur, one of India’s developed and modern cities of 2 million people, have reported 3,500 sex-determined abortions every year. China has its own story. After China implemented the one-child policy, around 50 million Chinese women have gone “missing” in the last 20 years. The institutionalized killings and neglect of baby girls have acquired a high momentum due to China’s one-child program.
The issues do not end here. Even if the girl manages to escape the shackles of infanticide and abortion, she becomes easy prey for the predators of sex-trafficking. This is very common in the countries of Southeast Asia. Poor farmers are constantly being approached by traffickers who promise to provide hefty sums of money in exchange for their daughters. When it’s hard for you to even provide one – time meal for your family, such offers glitter like gold and takes great courage to refuse. A report states that 1 million children around the world are part of sex trade and one-third of all the sex workers in Southeast Asia are in the age group of 12-17.
It’s high time we step up against this menace. It’s a shame to sit around when our fellow sisters are being tortured beyond repairs. Look at all the developed countries and all the developing countries. What is the difference you see? When I look at it, all I see is the way women are treated in the developing and developed countries. Women in developed countries are way better off than those in developing countries. The statement that there is a direct link between a country’s attitude towards its women and its socio-economic improvement is fairly justified.
One of the first things that can break the legacy of gender discrimination is education. Providing women with the basic skill set can open up new and better paying opportunities for them which can become the key to eradicate poverty. Poverty is the actual evil that has been the root of all gender discrimination. Once the girl child is educated and gets a proper employment she is more likely to be accepted into the society. Just like a boy is seen as a ray of hope for a family, the girl would achieve the same quota if the concept of girl education takes shape.
Only education cannot help. Awareness can play a key factor here. Most of the parents have no idea what their little girl can accomplish and that she is not less than their boy. They have to be grilled to believe that their daughters can do exactly what their sons can do for them. Many Government initiatives and NGOs have already taken up this initiation. Let’s all become a part of this movement to eradicate the germ called “Gender Discrimination!”