My house help came home looking forlorn. On my enquiring, if all was well, he told me that his daughter had her third baby this morning back in his village in India. “Are both the mother and baby fine?” I asked concerned. He shook his head, “It’s a girl again,” he replied despondently.
My concern was instantly replaced with a feeling of absolute disdain towards a grandfather who announces the birth of his granddaughter as if he had been given a sentence of life imprisonment. His distress and misery following the birth of his granddaughter took me back to the birth of my own daughter, the news and her arrival into our family had been reason enough for celebration.
Here is a tiny baby whose only fault is that she is a girl born into a family whose joy of parenting is conditioned by the child’s gender. It sickens me to even think that I would take better care of my son and give him a better education than my daughter simply because he is a boy. In a world where women are a leading force of change, breaking through the glass ceiling, heading major organizations and thriving in the field of sport too, it is unfortunate that the girl child is still seen as a liability and will suffer neglect and abuse throughout her life.
It is easy to point a finger on the country, its culture or its people.
If Delhi is called the ‘rape capital of India’ with a recorded 3.57 rapes per 100,000 people are you aware that the very same statistics prove that New York recorded 10.48 rapes per 100,000 people.?
If there are villages that are still ruled by the dreaded Khap Panchayats that pronounce harsh unjust punishments in the name of age-old customs and traditions that are unquestionably being followed through generations then did you know that this is the same country that has a girl as young as twenty who is leading her village in Gujarat as the youngest Sarpanch.
If female infanticide and the ‘dowry system’ that is vehemently practiced has made India the most dangerous place in the world to be a girl in then how would you define the plight of Yazidi ‘slave’ women who were ‘up for sale’ on their owner’s Facebook page recently?
If India is the country where ‘male chauvinism’ wins over women being just an ‘economic burden’ then this is the same country that dedicates nine days in prayer and worship to the Hindu deity Durga celebrated with great pomp as ‘Navrathri’.
Injustice meted out to girl babies, little girls and women in one form or the other is prevalent throughout the world.
Change in the way the world looks at a girl or a woman will begin with you and me. should begin in our homes.
Change will begin at our homes.
Change will begin when you teach and show your son that his sister, younger or older, needs to be treated with respect.
Change will begin when you teach him that every girl and every woman is someone else’s mother or sister and rightfully deserves to be treated with respect too.
This might seem like an infinitesimal ‘change’ in an unyielding society that is rooted in gender prejudice yet quoting Neil Armstrong – One small step for a man is one giant leap for (wo)mankind.