Gendercide : A Social Evil

“It’s a girl” – Ideally it should be a proclamation of joy. Instead , in the current setup of the society, especially in India and China, it’s the three deadliest words in the world . Evan Grae Davis as a filmmaker , had spent more than two decades of life capturing the different humanitarian issues which had plagued and endangered the entire human species – his endeavor had taken him to the Aral sea in Africa & the killing fields of Cambodia . The Aral sea, which formerly was one of the four largest lakes in the world , had shrunk to 10% of its total size by 2007 ( the shrinking has been called ‘one of the planet’s worst environmental disasters’ ) and where once a prosperous fishing industry had thrived , now stands a dry desert – solely owing to Russia’s cold war. The killing fields of Cambodia is the place where probably one in the biggest history of genocide had been scripted. Evan had filmed and experienced it all , the pain and agony associated to the events and the places .

When he came down to India along with Shadowline Films team , he learnt and experienced something which pronounced a heart aching melancholy , probably more than Cambodia or Africa – Gendercide . As the presentation explains (You can watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42i1sIZ-9kQ ) – Genocide is the deliberate systematic destruction of an ethnic or religious group whereas Gendercide is deliberate systematic destruction of a gender group , usually female . While shrinking of Aral sea was caused by political and supranational issues and killings of Cambodia was a pure genocidal issue , Gendercide – is entirely societal .

Evan lists out few startling statistics – 200 million girls are ‘missing’ in the world today. The UN estimates some were never born , more were killed as an infant. In India over 5 million are aborted , the mortality of women is 75% , over 1 hundred thousand are killed every year for dowry reasons . In China – forced abortion and forced sterilization owing to the one child policy by the family planning police resulted in 37 million more men currently living than women.

An epidemic of sex trafficking – women are kidnapped and sold as child brides to families who would otherwise find no bride for their boys, prevails in China. Worst of these, shocking – Evan filmed a row of graves , not of seventy or eighty plus deceased adults but of eight infant girls who were strangled by their mother as she believed that they wouldn’t find a place in the society she lived if born as a woman. This tale was recalled by the mother of the eight now dead girls, without remorse . She was married off as a second wife to her sister’s husband, just to bear children to him. She is clearly a product of the environment which she lived – she resembles the epitome of the society.

Gendercide as an issue if we post-mortem, would lead us to numerous faces who can be held responsible , but the superset of all those nameless faceless entities being Us – We , the people , the society , the norms ,the beliefs and the setup. Although its an extremely complicated matter and approaching to the conclusive core is a daunting task but let’s start from the inception of the issue – the root of the son (male) preference . In an ideal setup of the society, every individual is assigned some value , which affirms his belief in his existence , ‘Why am I born , what role do I play in the family , how do I serve to the society,’ and so on. These basic questions once answered conclusively frame the psychic setup of the individual . Now, let’s deviate from the ideal society and take a close look at our current societal setup . Although biologically speaking , it’s the man’s 23rdXY chromosome which determines the gender of the child but the current society holds a woman or the mother responsible when “It’s a girl” . Going back to the ideal society ideology , the girl child in most of the family setups, is instilled with the belief that however educated or high-riser, she would have to play the role of a subordinate second class ‘burden’ of her father’s family first and next would have to play the role of ‘caring house wife’ once she gets married . Worse enough , in her post-marital life sometimes her dignity is weighed by the dowry she brings in while she is married off and next, the gender of the kid which she would bear . The society detests a girl child but somehow ironically forgets that it would need future mothers in order to take the bloodline forward . A girl most of the time is held responsible for something she doesn’t have a control on – why is she born as a girl to why had she given birth to a girl child – ridiculously cruel but true .

Rita Banerji , one of the activists who had raised her voice to stop this issue puts it up aptly “…the misogyny that promotes the objectification of women, treating them like usable and disposable objects, has such deeply pervasive cultural and historical roots, that it sometimes seems impossible to surmount. It permeates every corner of society.” Whenever we see or hear something on this issue , we just nod , sigh and fold our lips to promise – Something needs to be done – without any iota of conclusion what needs to be or who needs to do it. Rita , once more , points it well –

Take a good hard look at our psyche – Turn the mirror around ourselves – Let’s start with our own family members – How do we treat our wives, mothers , sisters , next our household maid , next our office women colleagues , let’s try to instill the sense of worthiness in them – WE NEED YOU.

Let’s think differently , let’s educate by treating them differently . Devaluation of woman in our own culture is heinous , sinful. We can make gendercide famous – one day we can make it a memory of the distant past.

Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDx Gateway Mumbai in December 2012.

This post is written for the Idea Caravan Contest powered by Indiblogger, in association with Franklin Templeton Investments.

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