Children of Men?

When the country’s first child sex ratio (the number of girls per 1000 boys below the age of six) was taken in 1961, it was a staggering 976. When it was last taken in 2011, it was at a frightening 914.

According to the 2011 Census, as many as 6 states and union territories in India have a child sex ratio of less than 900. Punjab, being the lowest has 793, followed by Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra are all under 925, while Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Odisha are above the national average of 914. Even in Kerala, the state with the best sex ratio, the child sex ratio is at 963. Sikkim boasts the highest child sex ratio of only 986.

And all of this, despite the fact that, scientifically, it has been proven that the immune system of female babies is much stronger than their male counterparts’. The child sex ratio of this country is the only demographic that should have seen a positive trend, but has consistently fallen.

Sociology tries to give explanations to this phenomenon. It argues that there is a trend of male preference in this nation, there is lack of literacy and awareness, there have been social customs that have been against the girl child, and there is lack of effectiveness and implementation of government schemes.

But tell me, when is all that supposed to end? We call ourselves a developed nation, yet we still see thousands of cases of female foeticide and infanticide. We call ourselves an educated people, boast of being intellectually ahead of the West, yet, we see cases of girl children blatantly being denied education. We call ourselves forward on one hand and disrespect women who fail to comply with demands of dowry on the other hand. We say the government is trying its best, developing the nation, yet, our child sex ratio remains at a horrendous 914.

This is not development- it is silent, unhindered genocide.

And it will continue, until we as a people, together, decide to stop it. It can be done through simple ways- choose not to know the sex of your unborn child (which, by the way, is illegal under the Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques- Regulation and Prevention of Misuse- Act of 1996). When it comes to a child’s nutrition, if you see a family discriminating between the male and female child, explain to them what is wrong with this situation. Speak up against the ill-treatment of the girl child. Actively try to curb prejudices against the girl child in your daily life, like those of the girl child being a ‘burden’ on the family etc. Don’t participate in practices that directly affect the societal mindset towards the value of the girl child. Yes, I am talking about dowry, Female Genital Mutilation, honour killings, the taboo of periods being ‘impure’ and so on.

It took us 50 years to bring the numbers down from 976 to 914. We cannot to afford to waste the next 50 years and see the number fall to 0.

A Response to My Brother’s Anger At My Never-ending Feminism

My brother asks, annoyed “What then, is your ideal of equality between the sexes?!”

I take a deep breath and reply:

“It is a world where Eve isn’t villianised,
And banished
For simply being curious
And wanting to know what was out of her reach

A world where Sita isn’t made to walk through burning flames,
Twice
To prove that she’s untouched;
But Ram’s purity remains unquestioned

Where Paanchali-
Who wasn’t even Yudhistar’s to stake-
Isn’t pawned off in an attempt to humiliate her husbands

But not a single person considers it wrong,
Because it’s written down in texts age old
That it is but right.

Where Malala isn’t shot by the Taliban
At 15 for demanding
And standing up for her rights
Rights that she shouldn’t have to die for

Where foetuses aren’t killed by the millions
For having two X chromosomes
And female infants aren’t drowned
In boiling liquids as hot as their perpetrator’s anger

A world that doesn’t protect an acclaimed boy
Who is a sexual offender
And a world that doesn’t ask
But what was she wearing?

A world where if my son shall
Like another boy
He is not a criminal
Because love knows no gender, race, creed or religion

It is a world where my father’s ‘honour’ does not lie in my actions

A world where you aren’t actively taught to be afraid of crying
And to constantly wear the face of ‘masculine power’
Where you aren’t pressurised
To be something you don’t want to be

A world which does not celebrate and congratulate you
If your 8th grade teacher took advantage of you
Instead, feels ashamed
And rages and outcries at the injustice

A world that doesn’t treat a man’s depression
Like a joke- like something malfunctioned
And unnatural like it isn’t real
But acknowledges his right to feel something
And validates his meek emotions

A world where both sons and daughters
Are taught to
Be careful as they leave the house
And to behave themselves

It is a world that does not value you more than me
Or me more than you
But both of us equally.”

Punishment
Admire
Dramatic
Unstoppable

Because Being an Open-Minded Woman Does Not Mean I’m Blindly Following the West.

Let me start by clarifying one thing: Feminism is the fight for equal opportunities for both women and men.
Since time immemorial, the problem with society has been that it has given more privileges and importance to men. This is known as a patriarchal society where men are considered to be more dominant and women inferior. Perhaps the only exception to this would be the Amazonian society, but that disregarded men completely, so let’s not discuss that right now.

Now what outrages me is that when people say feminism is a bad thing and are anti-feminists. I mean do they not understand that feminism is something that will benefit society as a whole?

I have come across articles which are against feminism and feature women holding placards stating why they don’t need feminism, or why they feel feminism is sexist. These placards usually have signs like “I don’t need feminism because I am not oppressed.”
And the only thing going through my mind at that time is what does this first world woman even know about oppression?? Does she know that there are women around the world who are fighting for one chance to get an education? That many women are blatantly denied what she takes for granted, just because they belong to the female gender. What does this woman know about not being able to rise in her firm or earn the same salary as a male co-worker, even though she is working equally as hard as him, because she is a woman? What does this woman sitting in her air conditioned three storied house know about the woman somewhere in the world who has to walk miles to fetch a bucket of water? What does this woman know about that single mother, who never got an education, but is working tooth and nail to ensure that her daughter or son never has to work that hard in life?
Granted, I am judging this woman based on a photo that I saw on the internet, but if she has the resources to sit in front of a computer and upload a photo like that, I’d say she is better off than most of the women I talked about above.

Many say that feminism is bad as it creates a divide in society and fights for a privileged treatment of women.
But here’s the shocker: Feminism is the fight for equal opportunities, for both women and men. It is the fight to bridge the divide in society, which is caused because of society’s patriarchal nature. It’s not asking for better treatment of women, it is only asking that women get the same, equal rights and privileges as men, in all fields.
Yes, there are women out there who are making it on their own, but not all women are equipped enough to make it on their own. For example, a girl child in a village in any south Asian or African country might be expected to work at home rather than go to school, as according to the sexual division of labor the patriarchal society has established, she is supposed to stay at home and take care of the house, and education would ‘do her no good’. Hence, she is not sent to school, and so is not equipped with the basic thing she needs to make it on her own: education.

Feminism aims at bringing education to that little girl, who longs to grow up and change the world (come on cynics, every child wants to change the world at some point or another!).

And that is why India needs feminism. India needs feminism as that little girl, if given the right opportunities, may one day become the Prime Minister, and actually make a change. India needs feminism because I should not be the only one who is told to be safe when I go out of the house, but my brother should be told the same and both of us should be taught to behave ourselves. India needs feminism because people need to understand that just because I am wearing certain kinds of clothes, I am not ‘asking for it’. India needs feminism because the housework my mother or didi does needs to be valued as much as the work my father or didi’s husband does outside the house. India needs feminism because that little baby girl who just got aborted or burned alive for being a girl deserves a chance at life. India needs feminism as people need to understand that the woman who just got appointed as a minister might only be a college graduate or less, but she is certainly more qualified to run the ministry than that man sitting next to her who can’t even talk to save his life and only cares about the money that will go into his Swiss Bank Account. India needs feminism because when my friend wants to pursue fashion designing instead of engineering he should not be called names and poked fun at for choosing a ‘girly’ job. India needs feminism because I am not the devil incarnate for believing that a woman should think for herself. India needs feminism because I should not be taught from an early age to be embarrassed about being loud and tom boyish-that I should be quiet and delicate- unlike my brother who is taught to be loud and aggressive. India needs feminism because people need to understand that I am just as capable of getting the job done as my male counterpart, even if it requires lifting a load. India needs feminism because it can no longer be a patriarchal society: it has to be an equal society.  The world needs feminism because at the end of the day, it did not start with just Adam or just Eve, but with both of them. Because this world needs equality between the two sexes for development and progress.
Yes, there are many men also who are not given opportunities, feminism aims at bringing equality to all. If both girls and boys are not getting an education in a village, then feminism will ensure that both of them get an equal opportunity and chance at education. Think about all the problems that men face, because they aren’t ‘macho’ enough. Feminism aims at eradicating those problems. It aims at blaming the rapist for a rape, and not the victim, regardless of the gender of either. It aims at all humans being able to express emotions and feelings, even themselves, regardless of their gender. It aims for a world where if my son wants to be a nurse and my daughter a WWE fighter, I won’t have to tell them to ignore the jokes: because there would be no jokes. People would accept it as normal and move on!

Feminism is not that I don’t want a guy to carry my grocery bags (if I’m tired, then why not?). But it is the fact that more often than not, I am capable enough, strong enough, to carry them myself.