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Stop Discriminating Against The Girl Child

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A few years back in Riyadh, I met this distant family friend who very sympathetically said to me, “Chalain next time beta ho jai ga aur aapki family complete ho jai gi”– I was so horrifically appalled by her callous and insensitive remark that all I could say was, “I feel quite complete with my 2 daughters.

In this day and age, we still seem to be living in Stone Age wherein a family is completed when you have a boy. I was intrigued by this desire and I thought of delving further into this subject. Firstly, as I talked to many families, they told me wherever either of the gender was missing; the family would automatically crave for it. So if there’s a family filled with a cricket team of boys, they would die to hold a girl in their arms and vice versa. When one looks at this unfulfilled wish, one can very logically and humanely understand this need for a boy or a girl.

The problem arises when this need for a boy is so intense that it leads to so many pregnancies, that either result in female foeticide, or unwelcomed girl child into the family who is not loved and cared for in the way she truly deserves. Strangely enough, I have also seen educated families wanting to have their first born as a male. Why do we crave for a boy so badly? What precious blessings are attached to his birth? So here are my findings:

Women who have endured years of abuse, neglect and injustice at the hands of their in-laws and /or husbands feel some sort of security blanket wrapped around their existence that will protect them forever after the birth of this son. This male who is a part of her body will be her fortress for life. She depends on him emotionally and financially. She feels that if a daughter is born she is going to bring no good to her life. By having a daughter, she will have to suffer at the hands of another man in her life – his son in law.  A daughter is a “Paraya Ghar” and a liability in itself when we wed her off but a son is a financial asset for life.

In today’s world, when girls are seeking education or at least trying to work towards a life of strength, integrity, financial empowerment, why can’t we see that they will be there for us in the long run too? Even after their marriage, they will still take care of their parents. What difference is left in today’s world between a son and a daughter? An equally educated financially empowered daughter is fully equipped to take care of her parent, but only if we give her the wings to fly.

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Women who belong to a feudalistic mindset know that if it’s a boy, they will get a significant share in the family’s inheritance in the end. Even though from the religious standpoint, the financial responsibility of running a household lies on the son. He is responsible to take care of his widowed mother, unmarried brothers and sisters.  He will be responsible to give them a good education and get them married responsibly too.

The inheritance ratio of son and daughter as 2:1 as clearly mentioned in Surah Nissah implies that since it is his responsibility to take care of his family, that’s why he’s given more money to spend on his family wisely and justly. But my question is: What guarantee does the sacred XY Chromosome union gives you that he would be a prodigal obedient, just son and a brother.

Boys are needed by the parents as their life support, a lifelong asset, that doesn’t depreciate in value over time. In fact, it translates into a cash cow in the long run. Hence, all major investment of time, care, education, career is done on him not because of monetary gains per se, but because he’s our shining beacon who will protect us and take care of us for life. Obviously not all parental love is consumed with this monetary security. Since the boy brings prosperity, his birth is celebrated.

In our South Asian societies, parents of daughters always live under the shadow of a fear. Fear of assault, rape, injustice, abuse towards their daughter. Fear of getting her married to a respectable family. As they are at a receiving end, they bow down to societal pressures of dowry, lavish weddings. A daughter comes with tons of liabilities both financial and social as opposed to a son. With a boy, the family commands a stronger position and can get what they want at the negotiation table. I don’t say that it happens in every family. Obviously, with the advent of technology and education and changing social patterns, people don’t succumb to the pressure from in-laws so easily but we can’t ignore our basic social fabric which is quite heavily embedded in our DNA.

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Hence even today, we see an extremely intelligent, highly qualified, financially independent millennial girl’s parents pushing her to come with a trolley in front of larkay wallas simply because they are larki waalas. The dynamic is not equitable.

Fear of any physical injustice or assault to one’s daughter sends cold chills down the parents’ spine. Psychologically, they fear for her well being so much that until she reaches home safely from school, college, workplace, they don’t get peace.  A grown up boy is highly unlikely to be assaulted or raped. That difference arises from the physiological difference between a boy and a girl in terms of height, weight, and bodily strength.  And this very obvious physiological difference translates into a psychological difference among the parents too.

Therefore, parents with three daughters will worry about their family’s safety in general all the time as opposed to parents of a boy and three daughters.

They think that a boy will carry on the family’s name and its lineage will move forward and their name will continue to live until their son has a son and so on and so forth. I just wonder what purpose your family’s name would fulfill if the boy is born. What magnanimous difference to this mankind is made once your Prince Boy enters the world? I can see he’s definitely not the “chosen one” to use his patronus charm and save the planet from the Dark Forces.

For that, how about training and educating your daughters to learn the ropes and make it a success instead and let their children take it further down the road?

As for the “name” to live forever, how about build a school in your name, finance a business of a family, and provide quality education to under privileged children, help Old Home seniors, sponsor orphans, build a hospital, pay for sick people’s  treatment?

If you want your legacy to live forever, do loads of philanthropic work. You want your legacy to live, don’t differentiate between a son and a daughter. Raise your children with equality giving both your son and daughter equal opportunities to thrive and shine,  so as they become  loved and respected citizen of this society, you would feel complete as a parent and as a human being too.

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4 Comments

  1. Mohammad Baig August 8, 2020

    NEEDS TO STUDY GENDER AND WOMEN STUDIES TO GO THROUGH THE REAL STORY AND UNDERSTAND THE ROLE OF THE MEN AND THE WOMEN TO HAVE A LOVED FAMILY RELATIONSHIP AND SUSTAINED WELL.

    Reply
  2. Ahmed August 9, 2020

    “What guarantee does the sacred XY Chromosome union gives you that he would be a prodigal obedient, just son and a brother”
    So what’s the guarantee that the girl will be a good person? This is an irrelevant assertion placed right after an apt understanding of the Shariah. It shouldn’t have been in there.

    You want people to treat daughters and sons as equal, then tell them to love them for who they are. Their being alive. Not for what they can do or can become. This was even if it’s a third-gender child s/he will be loved.

    Reply
  3. Faiza Irfan August 31, 2020

    Thank you Gentlemen for your feedback! We as educated people of the society need to understand that in today’s global world of artificial intelligence, tremendous growth in technology and advancements, both boys and girls need equal growth opportunities to study and move up the ladder of career growth – In these days gender roles are quite interlinked and inter mixed too -We DONT live in stone ages anymore, wherein, men go out to hunt and get bread and butter and women stay at home taking care of the house and children – Today, these roles are not gender specific anymore – Hence, both the genders need to learn domesticity, infant care, child care because they both have their roles that define them and make them a WHOLE- Domesticity is a way of life so that we don’t live like animals – Hence If a wife has an urgent project deadline, it’s the husband’s responsibility to pick up some slack and do the dishes and clean the kitchen tuck in the infant – Hope you understand my viewpoint now –

    Reply
  4. Faiza Irfan August 31, 2020

    Absolutely you are right Mr. Ahmed- A Child be it any gender, be it any sexual orientation, deserves equal love and care by both the parents – That’s why I wrote that treat your children equally – There should be no gender bias –

    Reply

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