The Girl Child: Future of modern India
A child is the greatest creation of mankind. When a child is born it is the most auspicious moment for a parent's life, but still we disrespect God's own creation in the name of gender discrimination.
India, is an emerging and rapidly growing country in the spheres of science, technology, culture, education, etc. Our society is rich in social values and culture. We are citizens of modern India. But are we really so? There lies the question mark. Every year we hear thousands of cases in regard to female foeticide and social discrimination against a girl child. Discrimination against girls start from the very house they are born and from the moment they are born. In many Indian families especially those in the lower economic sections of the society, they do not want a girl child and female foeticide is more prevalent in these sections and even if they are born, they face numerous challenges as a girl child. Often huge amount of dowry at the time of their marriage forces parents to opt for a son instead of a daughter. Dowry deaths are very common in such families. A son is believed to not only bring in dowry to these families as well as look after the parents when they are old. These girls when are born start working at a very early age of 4 to 6 years and look after their younger siblings and also work at households. They learn from their childhood that they are burden to their families. This mindset again gets transferred to their own minds and they practice and follow the same tradition with their own child. This like a viscous circle. In villages the scenario is even worse. Often girls or women face communal ism, sexual assault, and assault relating to customs and culture of various cultural groups in villages. Many women face severe physical abuse and even death by a custom followed in many villages where women are considered witches popularly known as "daini pratha".
Children learn from their parents and especially their mother. We talked about families who belong to lower economic sections. But this gender bias is prevalent even in middle and upper-class families. It is not only related to economic conditions but it is a social problem. Mothers teach their daughters to be docile and they start doing household chores at a very early age. They are denied of the basic social right of good and equal education as to their brothers and even the basic right of free living. They watch their brothers going to good schools and receiving good education and enjoying a good and decent life. Even the mothers are denied to have a say at their home and can't even participate in the major decisions of their own life. She has to just follow the instructions laid down by her husband or the senior-most member of the family and follow them without a say of word. A break of rule results in punishment and often physical violence. A girl child watches this from her childhood and she lives her life in fear. She understands that she is a lesser being as compared to her brother and that she is expected to obey the rules of the family or she will face dire consequences. Such is the life of a girl in Indian society.
Sexual assault in young girls and women is another aspect of our society that we are much aware of but we do nothing about it. Girls are harassed and assaulted in schools and even in their own homes and often by their own relatives but they can't even talk about it. It is considered a taboo to talk about this and even to their own mothers. Mothers often understand but forbid their daughters to talk about it in public and fear to take actions against the accused due to lack of support from their own families. The girls are often married very young and they bear child at a very young age resulting in miscarriages, child death and often death of the mother. Lack of proper nutrition and care and and support leads to these deaths. Girls thus learn and start idolizing their fathers and brothers and start believing that whatever they are doing is right and that they can never question their decisions.
So how do we overcome this problem? Simple we overcome our own narrow-mindedness and start believing that girls and boys are equal and that both are blessings of God. Unless we change our own mindset we cannot bring about a change in the society. For this mothers has to change first. They have to start believing in themselves and start loving themselves. They have to understand that they are no lesser being than their husbands and brothers and that they have equal contribution in the family. They have equal rights to life and to education. Respecting elders, fathers, and husbands does not necessarily mean disrespecting and demeaning oneself. Every one should coexist with each other.
Men and women of our society needs to be educated and especially in rural sections of our society. Government and social organizations should collectively take measures and actions in villages to educate men and women. Many social organizations do so with the help of rural plays and counsel them. Education should be made compulsory for children from early ages and children should not be allowed to work at a very early age. Rural schools should provide proper nutrition to kids. Teachers should try to reach out to parents of the children and motivate them to participate in school activities and help them to understand the importance of education in their lives. Proper employment facilities for women and men in villages would solve their economic problems and they will understand that even the women in their families can earn and help in raising the family.
Gender discrimination has its own effect in middle-class and upper-class sections of the society. In states like Uttar Pradesh and Haryana female foeticide is very high and discrimination and sexual assault against women is also very high. Discrimination at workplace and harassment against women is also prevalent. Some of the ways in which gender discrimination can be minimized are as follows:
- People should be made aware of laws and rights that are available to protect women. Government should fund awareness programs that should be aired on television and radios so that it reaches general public.
- Special judicial laws to protect and empower women should be implemented.
- Round-o-clock services should be available from police, health, and social welfare to protect women against violence.
- Proper education, training, and awareness program to adults and children should be undertaken.
- Extensive research work and statistics should be gathered as to find out the causes behind the gender discrimination problem which will help in implementing corrective measures.
It is very unfortunate for a country like India where we worship Saraswati who is a Hindu goddess of knowledge, wisdom, music, and art but discriminate and insult women on the other hand. Such is the irony of our culture and our social values.
Overcoming gender bias is not an easy task and it will take years to finally bring equality among a girl and a boy. For this we need not only cultural, social, and economic changes, but also legal and judiciary laws and moreover implementation of these laws. A girl and a boy both are futures of our country and both complement each other. For this we have to fight our own evil and get over our own prejudices and be a good human being.
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