Why are female children still at risk in India despite progress in education, increasing participation of women in economic and political activities, and an overall improvement in the status of women? Is there any significant shift from ‘son preference’ to ‘daughter discrimination’? The widespread use of sex-determination tests and abortion facilities has given an opportunity for parents to achieve the desired family size and the desired gender composition of children. There is an intensification of gender bias particularly among the peasant communities. The rapid fertility decline, not accompanied by changes in the cultural values and gender inequality, has resulted in a deliberate attempt to ‘get rid of girls’.
For a woman, it is discrimination that emerges as the major stumbling block in the path of progress, in every walk of life starting from the fetus. In India, there are a lot of evidence from history, of practices that builds identity of and existence of women’s leadership in society. Looking at the historical perspectives, control over women was seen as a social norm; hence the ancient Indian systems are talkative of keeping a guard on women throughout their lives, at all levels of her life.
Realizations of the huge list of challenges that a women faces throughout her life would have made even women not to prefer a girl child, but a boy. Demographic data proves such a hypothesis, and the growing technological interventions to identify and finish the female lives in the womb itself is a growing trend irrespective of all legal and social measures. Thus science and technology in the modern era is also misused against women’s lives. Be it a family in urban setup or rural setup, desire of having a son is always there and entry of the girl child is seen as a problem.
One of the reasons associated with lesser preference for girl child bearing is a fear that whether they can afford a proper marriage for her- both for financial and social concerns. These all forces the family members to marry her early as early as possible- sometimes even before her adolescence-instead of making her capable in establishing herself in the world around. As a result, she grow in terms of age but with lesser confidence and larger concern, as an unknown follower and dependent of all male-centric values, far away from concepts of equity and equality.
In recent times, a lot of recognition, reinforcement, positive changes are happening on all these areas, though not matching with the needs. A lot of questions are being raised, lot many organized efforts are breaking the silence of women on these high-ended discrimination. This is time to equip and empower women with equitable social norms; with science and technology that helps such empowerment. We need to ask why woman don’t cast the right to conquer her destiny, why should she wait head bowed by the roadside with tired patience, hoping for a miracle on tomorrow.