Academic journal article Gender Forum

Sociology of Female Foeticide and Infanticide. Where Does the Law Stand?

Academic journal article Gender Forum

Sociology of Female Foeticide and Infanticide. Where Does the Law Stand?

Article excerpt

1Society is the systematic ordering of social relationships based on definite patterns. Both men and women together contribute to the continuity of human generations on earth. Nature designed both sexes for the perpetuation of the human races. Traditional India has always accorded full respect to women in every walk of life. The notion of ardhangini (better half in Hindus) suggests that there was equality between men and women; neither of the two being superior to the other [Prabhu 1958:22]. Majumdar [1961:206] has aptly remarked that the status of women in India can be more understood in the Indian ethnology than in that of religion or Brahmanism. During the Vedic era women enjoyed almost equal status with that of men. They were allowed to participate in the social affairs of the society except on few occasions. The daughters were awarded the same status in ancient texts. Though sons were given preferential treatment from the beginning, there have been instances where we find that the Rigveda praises the father of many daughters. Matrika-Puja should take place first; the Kumari-Puja was performed at the end of the all Vedic rituals [Upadhyay 1974:43]. Initiations of girls were common, and they were provided all sorts of facilities to develop their personality fully. Like their brothers the girls wore the sacred thread (Upavita-Dharana) and used to pass through the period of Brahmacharya. According to Sarvanukra-manika there were as many as twenty women who are credited with having composed the hymns of the Rigveda. Apart from a literary career, women entered fields of teaching, medicine, business, defense and administration [ibid :44-46].

2 The traditional value system of Indian society, sex segregation, poverty and the growing problem of dowries - all these have created an atmosphere where females are often considered a nuisance. The result is a declining child sex ratio in succeeding census reports. The mentality and attitudinal problem at the level of society are directly responsible for occurrence of such gaps in the society leading to various kinds of other problems in the forms of violence, rape, foeticide, infanticide, marginalization, powerless, exploitation, cultural imperialism and traditional notion of polyandrous marriages to women of our contemporary society. Justice Iyer [1979:31] has aptly remarked:

The fight is not for women's status but for human worth. The claim is not to end inequality of women but to restore universal justice. The bid is not for loaves and fishes for the forsaken gender but for cosmic harmony, which never comes till woman comes.

3 The survey published by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum-better known for its annual business bash in Davos-shows that full economic and political empowerment remains a distant dream for million of women in much of the western world, let alone developing countries. Of the 58 countries covered by the survey, no country has yet managed to eliminate the gender gap but the Nordic states - Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Finland - have "succeeded best" in narrowing it. They seem to provide a "workable model" for the rest of the world to follow. Other "female friendly" countries include Britain, Germany, New Zealand, Australia and, significantly, several East European countries where women still benefit from the support system built during the Communist era [Sinha, et al.2008:303].

4 To minimize the gap between man and woman, girl and boy, efforts have been made at an international level. Gender equality and the empowerment of women were considered one of the eight Millennium Development Goals by the United Nations Population Fund in 2001. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation celebrated the Decade of the Girl Child in order to confront discrimination against girls between 1991 and 2000. The UN Declaration of Rights of Children from 1959, which indicated that "the child, by reason of his physical and natural immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate protection, before as well as after birth" was concretized into the UN Convention on Rights of the Child in 1989. …

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