This was written for the "point of view"
Last week was “catching up time” with old friends. Some of us are already mothers were discussing the pros and cons of raising kids, taking the second chance and sabbatical from work. During the talks, we learnt that two more friends were blessed with daughters. We cheered at the thought of the newest addition to our tribe. Clap, clap! Someone joked if He had his finger pressed on the button for “girls,” (like the TV commercial), because suddenly all we knew were proud, beaming parents of chubby, cute, pink faced baby girls.
While others were chatting and laughing about “girl power,” I remember a spine-chilling conversation I had with another friend.
This friend had always dreamt of having lots of kids. So it was no surprise that she took the second chance after her first daughter turned three. This time around her family members wanted the “perfect family” -- husband, wife, one son and his sister. A second girl child didn't fit into their scheme of things. And, to ensure that they don't have another granddaughter, they pushed my friend to go in for the sex determination test, which is illegal. She just refused. We will have what we have, she said in a way everyone understood.
The family, which my friend is married into, is upper middle class and highly educated. So one wonders why such people should push for a “male heir.” Perhaps because the birth of a girl spells “loss” in the family balance sheet, while a boy maximises the profit. It sounds cold, calculating and cruel, but that's how life is for the girl child -- those who are lucky to complete the nine-month term in the womb and live to see this world. Of course, there are families which welcome the birth of daughters with joy and warmth, but they are far outnumbered by those which see the birth of girls as a “liability.” For them, sex determination is a practical way to get rid off the liability. Perhaps they don't see it as cruelty. But, who knows, how they might react if this test was applied to boys. They might cry hoarse, “cruelty cruelty.”
Don't get me wrong. Never make the boys the victims for female foeticide. But why not welcome both with equal love, warmth and bless them and prepare them for a wonderful life. Celebrate the birth without discriminating against a gender. Perhaps I am a bit too optimistic, but if all women say “No” to kill one of their very own, like my friend did, we will have more reasons to celebrate.