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Girls Still A Taboo

Girls Still A Taboo

July 23, 2011

The disturbing lengths that parents will go to have boys, as they take their daughters for sex change operations.



The world is in 21st century where we would believe that gender equality is now recognised in most democracies even though not completely perfect; right? Wrong! In India, in the state of Madhya Pradesh there are parents who desperate for a son, have resorted to inhuman surgery and changed their daughters’ gender. The children in question are said to be aged between one and five.

India’s National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights has ordered the Madhya Pradesh government to investigate claims that 300 girls have under gone surgeries to become boys in procedures that cost the equivalent $3,200 (£1,992) each.  Dr. Brijesh Lahoti who performed the genitoplasty said, “In India, there is no problem in performing these surgeries as only the consent from parents and an affidavit is required.”

Although the surgeries were performed in Indore in Madhya Pradesh, the children operated on were from across the country. The president of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics in Indore, Dr V P Goswami said, “Genitoplasty is possible on a normal baby of both the sexes, but later on these organs will not grow with the hormonal influence and this will lead to their infertility as well as their impotency. This is shocking news and we will be looking into it and taking corrective measures. Parents have to consider the social as well as the psychological impact of such procedures on the child.”

India’s civil society activists have reacted with outrage, saying the practice has made a mockery of women in India and that girls are not safe even after birth.  Ranjana Kumari of the Centre for Social Research and a leading campaigner against foeticide said the surgical transformation of girls into boys without their informed consent was a sign of India’s growing “social madness”. Ms Kumari added, “It seems the more educated and wealthier you are, the more there is the killing of girls.

It is not uncommon in India, which has a population of 1.2 billion for families to prefer boys. Yet the lengths to which parents will go to secure a baby boy are disturbing with sex selective abortions, known as foeticides. According to the Centre for Social Research there are now seven million more boys than girls under six years of age in India. A study it conducted in 2009 revealed that a staggering 7,000 female foeticides occurred every day in India. The same study said that over the past 20 years, as many as 10 million girls had been killed by their parents either prior to their birth or immediately after.

Ms Kumari believes the solution lies with the government, “In India we need to emphasize the spiritual wealth a girl brings to a family. We also need to support them with financial subsidies and jobs.” It is clear that till now both the education and public awareness campaigns have failed to shift attitudes on preference for boys over girls.

Photo credit: Joel Dousset 

17 Comments

  • Sangeeta Haindl
    By
    Sangeeta Haindl
    21.08.11 10:15 PM
    @Yadhav Krishnan...Thank you!
  • yadhav krishnan
    By
    yadhav krishnan
    21.08.11 12:05 PM
    Hats off!!.., It was en eye opener!!
  • Sangeeta Haindl
    By
    Sangeeta Haindl
    01.08.11 03:10 PM
    Hi Monita, Yes it goes back to basics and education...Indian society needs to rethink its attitudes to girls and actually value them. The adverts and some of the films in India have to change. Everything needs a radical shift.
  • monita
    By
    monita
    31.07.11 08:06 AM
    To address the problem of female foeticide, we need to first address the underlying cause. Why do people prefer boys to girls- girls bring dowry,Parents of a boy can retire early and live totally dependent on son for as long as they wish with zero responsibility. The harsh truth is parents committing female foeticide are not the only ones who should be held responsible for the act, in my perception every man who accepts dowry, every girl who agrees to being given away with dowry and hefty fancy wedding, paid for by their parents, every person who ask a girl's parents why their grown up daughter is unmarried is responsible for every single girl child in the country. The responsibility lies with each one of us. As Gandhiji said, "be the change you want to see in the society". Take action. Condemning is for politicians.
  • Sangeeta Haindl
    By
    Sangeeta Haindl
    26.07.11 09:36 PM
    Hi Madhav,

    Your are right! It is just that - inhuman and it should not be happening.
  • madhav mishra
    By
    madhav mishra
    26.07.11 09:11 PM
    sex change or female foeticide, both are just sick.how can you kill a human life.thats just SAD and inhumane!
  • Sangeeta Haindl
    By
    Sangeeta Haindl
    24.07.11 11:35 PM
    Hey Cooper Patel, You are absolutely right. India has the technology, it is an emerging economy with a growing middle class and is radically changing...I see it every time I visit India. I also see the positives.

    Yet there is still a huge discrepancy in what India sees as 'moving forward' and with how it views women and being female.

    India is a male dominated society, nothing has changed at all here. There is no real equality. I feel Indian women are always having to compromise. They compromise with everyone, everything and even with themselves. In modern India this is backward thinking.
  • Sangeeta Haindl
    By
    Sangeeta Haindl
    24.07.11 11:24 PM
    Vijay Menon thanks for reading and replying...though I feel we have moved this debate on to a much bigger picture, which is about the real position and value of women in Indian society. This is the under lying message of why I chose to high-light this story.
  • Sangeeta Haindl
    By
    Sangeeta Haindl
    24.07.11 11:24 PM
    Hi @gtoosphere...thanks and appreciate your point.
  • CooperPatel
    By
    CooperPatel
    24.07.11 10:27 PM
    This shows India is still backward in many respects.
  • Vijay Menon
    By
    Vijay Menon
    24.07.11 06:57 PM
    The news is not true as someone has pointed out. It was confirmed medically impossible to do such a thing

  • gtoosphere
    By
    gtoosphere
    24.07.11 03:56 PM
    @Sangeeta: I agree with your analysis and most of the content of the article. I just wanted to point out that HT goofed it up a bit in an attempt to sell more papers.
  • Sangeeta Haindl
    By
    Sangeeta Haindl
    24.07.11 02:41 PM
    Thank you all for taking the time to read my post and while there may be some questions marks about the Hindustan Times, I personally don't think a paper like the Hindustan Times would quote respected professionals...that's just my view.

    However, I think the main point here is that today in India the birth of baby girls are still not accepted in some families and parts of India. It is still taboo.

    What we do know is that female foeticide is happening and is real.

    Again from my own personal perspective and from what I have seen and experienced, I believe the way girls and women are treated in India still has a long way to go, education and changes are needed so that are really viewed as equals.

    I know from the work my mum does in a local government hospital in India that every now again the 'burn' cases come in of new brides set alight because of dowry issues.

    I think this story highlights some of the deeper issues in Indian society about how girls/women are viewed.
  • Inexcusable
    By
    Inexcusable
    24.07.11 02:48 AM
    It did seem a bit strange! Wow, I guess the HT gets the award for poor sensationalist negative journalism with no research!

    I thought these were supposed to be quality newspapers - they seem to be nothing but "national enquirer" type ripoffs!

    The Hindu, on the other hand, seems to have some sobriety and conscientiousness behind it.
  • gtoosphere
    By
    gtoosphere
    23.07.11 09:23 PM
    What was reported in the Hindustan Times was found to be medically impossible. This article looks like it is based on that.

    "As it turns out, they need not have bothered. Senior doctors and surgeons say the operation, described on the front page of that newspaper as “turning girls into boys,” is medically impossible. "

    http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/article2259991.ece
  • Inexcusable
    By
    Inexcusable
    23.07.11 07:03 PM
    This is, of course, totally inexcusable.

    The first thing the government should do is ban these operations. The next thing they should do is educate people, and quickly. Assuming that the government gets some time off from (allegedly) siphoning off the country's wealth to their own private swiss bank accounts of course!

    Interesting that it states that the richer and more educated families are more likely to do this? That seems somewhat counterintuitive, no? Are there any numbers to back that up?
  • Noel
    By
    Noel
    23.07.11 06:22 PM
    just appalling!!

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