The Census 2011 figures are out, and on expected lines. A decade on, Haryana and Punjab continue to rank among the states with the lowest sex ratio in the country. Government incentives such as the Laadli and Shagun schemes have failed to check female foeticide. It’s clear that money can’t change the fate of girls who are either killed before birth or discriminated against if allowed to be born. The only way to let our daughters live with dignity is to change our mindset. Can the mother be the catalyst for this change? |
If finding a suitable girl is an uphill task in Haryana so is marrying one off with the dowry to account for. If ultrasound centers carrying out sex-determination tests continue to flourish, so do families who prefer boys to girls for the sake of ‘lineage’ and ‘convenience’.
Why blame the poor for considering daughters a liability? Most schemes target people living below the poverty line when the trust is for them a girl or a boy is practically just another earning member. It is in fact the middle and upper middle classes who have access to pre-natal tests and who go the extra mile for a male child. Daughters in such families are accidents that can’t be wished away. Their education is seen as a passport to a good match.
Neither parents nor girls realize how important it is to be financially independent till, of course, tragedy strikes. A job is seen as a status symbol, not a career choice. Girls in ‘good families’ are conditioned to shine academically but not encouraged to question norms or take a stand. As a result, they often ask and suggest but rarely decide and do. The girl eventually becomes a mother, who meekly surrenders because it’s a ‘she’ not a ‘he’.
If their education, and mindset, is straitjacketed, women’s health is also low priority. It is rare to find a middle class family concerned about the health needs of its women first. Women of the house nurse an ailment till it becomes unbearable and then suffer for want of timely treatment.
There is enough awarness about the consequences of a skewed sex ratio and the plight of women. What we lack is the will to change our mindset. Government schemes and laws cannot bring about a change neither can reservation empower women.
The acceptance of being as much as an individual as a man has to come form within. Women are not the weaker sexes nor are they any fairer. They are different yet equal, diverse yet similar, vulnerable yet strong. Daughter are a much a treasure as sons, if not more. Perhaps, it’s the mother in a woman who can trigger this change in mindset.
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