India holds a better future for women 15 years from now, indicated by the population projections made by the National Commission on Population under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. In 1994 Indian government has passed the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PCPNDT) to ban and punish prenatal sex screening and female foeticide. It is currently illegal in India to determine or disclose the sex of the foetus to anyone. Then the abortion laws were made strict. Most of the abortion centres got closed. Governments campaigned to save female children and after so many years of efforts, India saw a historic change.
Those days the population of women came down in the greed to have male children but no female child and save dowry money, and additional responsibilities. When the law became strict and abortion became illegal, the same families gave birth to a number of girls expecting at least one son. The increasing practice of female foeticide was evident by the decreasing male: female ratio in most parts of the country. These male-dominant power dynamics constructs the rationale which formulated a kind of validation in the social psyche for gender disparity and even for gender-based crimes. It also created a social mindset which considered boys’ be an asset and girls nothing more than a burden.
In rural India, you will find many families having multiple daughters for one son. In many Indian states, there is an uneven number because the families won’t stop having children until they get a boy or are too old to have children. For a long time in those communities and statesmen were the only ones who could work and bring honour to their families or many other things, so if they couldn’t have a Boy, then they were dishonoured. In other religions, it leads to a lot of families having multiple wives in order to have kids to try and get a boy, and having a ton of daughters and only 1 boy to carry on the family name.
Another reason is that due to incomplete birth registration, sex ratios in young children are used as a proxy measure, showing that improved health care and general conditions for females have been offset by increased recourse to sex-selective abortion. However, distinct geographical differences in sex ratio have appeared across the country; several states in the north and west have very high population sex ratios.
Women always played an important role in shaping the destiny of our civilization, yet the girl child, very often, not only faces disregard and disparity but sometimes the gravest forms of violence/crime. Even today, nothing would change much in spite of their growing numbers. In India, traditions/rituals undermine the very existence of girl children. Despite tremendous hue and cry about gender equality and the enforcement of laws for achieving the same, a large number of newborn girls are still being dumped in the garbage, while unborn female foetuses continue to be sniffed in the womb.
Our society has often dealt the young girls/women with a rough hand, beginning even before their birth and following through infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood (including pregnancy and lactation) till the last leg of their life. The long-standing tradition of son preference will never allow most of the families to stop production after one or two female children; they will keep on giving birth until they have one male child to their kitty. These growing numbers of females are coming from this want of a son and unwanted approach for them. Tomorrow they will have different challenges, the deprived male population may try all sorts of abuses to overpower the outgrown female population.
Many women have touched heights in various fields, both at the national and international levels. Urban India has already settled with female children but ruler India has yet to change a lot. We can celebrate gender equality when abuse of women stops when no acid attacks and rape cases. India is amongst the most unequal countries in the world to be a woman. The latest annual Global Gender Gap Index released by the World Economic Forum places India 17th from the bottom, with Afghanistan being the lowest. Unlike most nations in India discrimination starts in the embryo, and each year more than 46 million “missing women”. Every day, we are reminded in no uncertain terms that India is no country for women — within or outside the home. How can one really celebrate the growing number change in the female population?