Thursday, August 14, 2008

Boys get preference

The news about the BBC documentary brought to mind the national award winning movie, 'Karuthamma', in Tamil by Bharathiraja. A movie with a strong message, it served as an introduction and a reminder to one of the social evils existent in our country. Karuthamma is a story of female infanticide prevalent in many parts of Tamil Nadu. It shows how the female child is unwanted and killed just after being born, the reasons being, poverty, the cost of bringing up a child and the high demands of dowry. For me who had only heard about it, and read of cases in the newspaper, the movie served as a reminder, of how fortunate I was. It was also a pointer to the ills of the society of which we are all part of.

Preferential treatment of boys is something most of us are familiar with or have been touched by, in various forms. If not from within the family, then we hear it from relatives and friends of the family, or from the society we live in. Also, it can be heard and felt in various ways. It starts from the pride and joy the family has when a boy is born and continues in the form of preferential treatment they get throughout their life compared with their female counterparts, in the choice of toys, food, education, life-partner.

It has to be accepted that female infanticide is rampant today, with science aiding it of course. This is not going to change unless education is seen as a means of empowerment. As a means to be self-reliant. As one of the tools that aid a person to take decisions with the convictions it requires - especially in a society like ours where a girl does not have much of say in her own life. And made compulsory, especially for the girl child.

In the many interactions with students, as a teacher and today as a colleague, there is one disturbing fact that I have come across. When asked what they intend to do after their degree, many girls say that they are taking a degree as it will help get them married well. This has been told to them which they repeat without giving a thought. Today, in India, (along with the IT boom), many bride-grooms like their prospective brides to be educated and well-versed in English as jobs take them across countries and across socio-economic levels. Hence, parents of the brides look at their daughter getting a degree as a means to find better son-in-laws too. The sad part, I feel, is that the purpose of education gets lost. It is not spoken about as a means to make oneself knowledgeable, confident and self-reliant.

This is not to say that every girl with a degree must work or that education gets wasted if one is a home maker. No. The question is, “Isn't the goal wrong ?”. Such education, will it aid the cause of women's empowerment in our country, except in statistics ? How is it going to get translated to the next generation ?

I would love to believe Arun's words. That each generation will take one more step. That the same goal will not be applied to the child. That change will happen, slow and sure.

Fortunate I was, Blessed I am,

To be born, Where I was,

At that time,

To parents, Strong,

Who waivered not,

Who battled long,

To get for me,

What they thought,

Is my due,

Is my birthright,

To Live, Armed,

With education.

For birth is random,

With no choice,

And things may have been different,

In another place.

Another time.


sarathy said...

Hi mam, as to my eyes, the India have been changed a lot. Nowadays its not a matter whether a boy or girl.The one who studies well will get their preference. I am seeing lots & lots of families (neighbours & friends) who made their daughters to study professional education and son to a graduate or diploma, as because he is not interested in studies (But still as u depicted this ratio is less).

In these recent days, girls are more competive and showing much interests in studies. They are equally getting placed. Even in a firm (especially IT), they are shining like anything. They are ready to possess any big responsiblities and executing it well.

May be accroding to their parents, the graduation may be just for her marriage, but girls are not taking it like that. they want to prove themselves.

Nowadays if we seen into any villages in tamilnadu, most of the girls would have atleast completed their graduation. It was once we were amazed to see one girl in village who completed her degree. The situation is slowly changing. And will completely change one day.

Hope we will welcome that day soon.

- Sarathy

Leonardo said...

Sapna, you can imagine how bad I think situations like that are. If there is any cultural "value" imposing or encouraging that kind of attitude it is just plain wrong. Absurd. In my opinion.

Sasidhar Reddy K M said...

As i see, the illiteracy is like that and economic power are the two crucial factors making them to act like that for girl children. One thing is sure, Those who are literates are taking care of their daughters by providing what they want for the education or career or some thing.

The first generation children those who are getting educated now for the first time from their family by so many organisations like CRY, Give India or some thing will never send their children to work or make them get get married earlier. They will definitely send them to school, college or some thing. The scene of statistcs a big drama in many cases which i really hate from my research on that.

Recently, i have noticed in several places about this issue while i care for this kind of.. girls are also given great liberty in all the educated families say if the parents have completed atleast their +2, then their children are encouraged to study well with out a bar in most cases.


Kam said...

Back again, I read in a book by Charles and Mary Lamb about Shakespeare's works. From the text in the preface of the book, we can see, not only in India, In united Kingdom or in so many developed nations where English was the main word, Girls were not allowed to read the works of Shakespeare until they reach some age where boys were preferred to be allowed to his works in libraries.

Not to add fuel to fire, just found this text as a reference to what you have posted.