Time to change the narrative

Today is the day of the girl child, a day when we talk about so many issues that the girl child faces. From childhood bias to abuse, from forced child labour to child marriage, and above all discrimination from the male child, the girl child is cornered all along in India.

During my pregnancy, it used to sadden me when people asked me about the gender of my child. There were hushed assumptions, discussions and expectations that the child would and should be male. Our country has strict regulations against gender revelation during pregnancy ultrasonography, and the reason behind it is the high rate of female foeticide and infanticide. Despite all the laws and regulations, people go about asking whether it is a boy or a girl.

In the eighth month of my pregnancy while at a shopping mall, a cleaning lady in the washroom came stared at my baby bump and said, “You are going to have a boy. Please gift me a box of sweets when your boy is born”. I snapped back, “So you do not want sweets if I have a daughter?” She looked shocked and cross with me. I said nothing. After my little one was born, I took time out one day, visited the mall, found her and gave her a box of sweets. She said, “So you had a boy?” I replied, “That’s not why I gave you the sweets. It is because my child came into the world safely, and I want a promise from you. Never ever again talk about the gender of the child. Tell every mother-to-be that you wish her and her child good health and happiness.” She smiled, took the sweets and said, “Sorry dear, I had said that because everyone wants a boy”.

I still wonder why are people so insecure about the birth of a girl child. Why can’t they get over the idea of gender bias? How deep rooted is misogyny and patriarchy that right from the womb itself, the girl child is not welcomed?

During chilhood, I never quite understood gender bias, for my parents treated my brother and me alike. We received similar education, upbringing and had equal opportunities to succeed. I realised the glaring inequalities only as I grew older, got married, started working and began seeing more of the world outside our loving abode, and that left me more shocked than ever. There are families that train their daughters to serve the men in the family. Doing chores should be taught to both girls and boys. But sadly, this does not happen in most Indian families.

The girl child receives instructions, all kinds of dos and donts. On the contrary, most families do not instruct their boys on their basic behaviour, demeanour or attitude. Their ego is boosted life long and they continue the cycle of abuse for the women in their lives. Our girls are not safe in our houses nor outside. We are far from even making it a safe world for our girls.

We need to change the narrative – you and I need to change it, one step at a time, being more responsible as adults teaching the next generation the right from the wrong. It is time to welcome the girl child with an open heart and mind, educate her in the best manner, empower her with rights that guarantee her freedom and opportunities that secure her independence. Every child deserves love, respect, a good life and happiness, irrespective of the gender that the child identifies with.

4 comments

  1. Very well said. Both boys need to be taught love and respect for all people, young and old, male and female, healthy and disabled. It is not just in Indian society that girls are treated as secondary beings- somehow this happens the world over, that little boys are treated like princes who can do no wrong and little girls have to be nice.

    Liked by 2 people

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