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India Wants More Daughters

For thousands of years the prejudices of giving birth to a daughter have run deep in India whereas by contrast a son is considered an asset and a reason to celebrate.

Daughters can be a burden as tradition dictates the bride’s family pay the groom’s family a large dowry on marriage.  Sons will inherit property and his parents will enjoy the wealth the bride brings to the family.

This traditional preference of having boys has led to thousands of girl foetuses being aborted yearly, with the abuse of modern pre-natal scans that are now readily available.
 
The pre-natal scans that were built to protect the health of both mother and baby are now being used as a death sentence for unwanted girls.

Selective abortion was outlawed over 12 years ago and experts estimate that during this time India could have lost up to 10 million girls with gender-based abortions.

Government to Pay Families to Keep Baby Girls

India has now launched a scheme whereas families are being offered sums of up to £1,500 to help give birth and raise their baby girls. This money is to be paid in stages and a close monitor will be kept on how it is spent.

This ‘allowance’ by the Indian authorities will carry requirements if families are to receive the money.  On completion of her schooling her nutrition and health will be checked and when she reached 18 a sum of money will then be handed over to the family.  It also stipulates that the young women should not at this stage be married.

India’s Woman and Child Development Minister, Renuka Chowdhury told reporters “This will force families to look upon the girl as an asset rather than a liability and will certainly help us save the girl child”.

Condoning the abandonment of female babies as opposed to abortions, Renuka was quoted as saying “lf you don't want a girl, leave her to us. “The government will bring up your children. Don't kill them".

Marriage Crisis and Lack of Brides

The scheme has been introduced by a desperate response to stem India's dramatic deficit of women.  The country has almost 8% more men than women and they are now asking what future does it have without enough women.

With the shortage of baby girls being born, a marriage crisis has now hit the men and potential brides are becoming hard to find.  Many are now having to looking even further outside their region for their brides. Poor communities have taken to ‘selling’ their daughters for marriage and breeding children.

A generation of unmarried men who are unable to find wives is already emerging.  Some villages are overflowing with frustrated bachelors and in Haryana, a quarter of the female population has simply disappeared.

One villager who had to purchase his wife from Bangladesh said "I couldn't find a local girl," so I had to go outside to get married. But it wasn't cheap."

His bride looks about 15 and is now hundreds of miles away from her family, friends and home.

Government officials are making spot check on clinics to double check that doctors are not abusing the modern technology of informing future parents what the sex of their child is.  Unfortunately the illegal systematic abortion in many clinics is still very common.

Traditions of Old Age and Chidlren in India

The worry of being taken care of during old age is another factor within the Indian community.  Daughters get married and leave home, son’s stay and bring their new bride to live with them and help take care of them when they get old.

Boys are highly regarded and traditions for thousands of years have dictated how children take care of their parents when they can no longer work or look after themselves.  Generations of selfish, scared and ignorant people especially within the poorer villages may have now led their country into this crisis.

Over the last 25 years with its estimated count of million of girls that have gone missing from India’s population, most will have been aborted, some would have been killed after they were born and others will have been left to die. 

Indian women with British citizeship and living in the UK can be placed under the same pressure by their families to have boys.  The Oxford University study suggests 1,500 girls are ‘missing’ from the birth statistics in England and Wales from 1990 to 2005.

For the many millions of ‘lost’ girl feotuses we offer a silent pray and for the 100,000 that will be saved in the first year by India’s ‘save the girl’ scheme, I say ‘thank god’.