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In search of a girl child - with the boy girl ratio in India falling, girls are becoming increasingly hard to find.
Four years ago.
I call my mother a few days before Navratri.
Amma: uff, I am having trouble finding a girl
RM: What? Girl?
Amma: A girl child, a kanya ponnu to give the clothes for Navami pooja. You know RM, with this girl-boy ratio going so haywire, eventually we are going to have no girls left in this world and everyone will be searching frantically for that one girl who is left and she will become like a Goddess or something.
I laugh at my mom’s imagination.
Three years ago.
I am getting ready to pick up R from the daycare after a day of work-from-home, the door bell rings. A lady and her husband are outside.
Lady: Hi, is there a little girl in this house?
RM: Errr…no..I mean, yes but she is not here now
Lady (a bit disappointed): Oh okay, can you please give her this? (She hands me a dabba of prasad, and some coins in it and a big water bottle.)
RM: Errr..who are you?
Man: We live on the 10th floor of your building. We were searching for a baby girl to give the asthami prasad and yours is the only one we were told about, so we came to give it.
RM: oh okay, come in, come in, and so on…
Two years ago.
I get a call on the intercom.
Voice: Madam, Do you have a girl child in the house?
RM: Who is this please?
Voice: I am calling from **** flat; actually we were searching for a girl child for the asthami pooja of navratri and unfortunately there are none in the vicinity we know. Then the watchman said that you have a daughter who is about 3 years old. Can you send her and we can do her pooja?
One year ago.
Office friend: You know RM, my mother in Meerut is having so much trouble trying to find a small girl for the asthami pooja. Everyone seems to have only boys.
The door bell rings and RD opens it. A lady says that someone told her that there is a girl child in our house and she has been searching all through 3 buildings to find one to give the asthami prasad.
I get reminded of my mother’s words four years ago.
Is it true? Are kanya ponnus* really getting difficult to find? Or is it just that I am experiencing this because I have a 5 year old at home? I do feel if the female infanticide continues at this rate and Khap panchayats continue to flourish, what else should we expect?
Will my mother’s sinister words come true, in the future?
*kanya ponnu – A girl who has not yet attained puberty. In the south of India, such a girl is given clothes, prasad, etc since she is considered to be a Goddess.
Similarly in the north of India, a girl who has not yet attained puberty is treated as a Goddess on the Asthami day where people actually do her pooja by falling at her feet and giving her prasad and clothes and stuff since she is considered a Goddess incarnate.
Today’s changemaker that we’d like to highlight is Population First, a non-profit that works on the issue of population in India, from the perspective of women’s rights and access to information about reproductive health as well as contraception. Rather than looking at it as a question of numbers to be “controlled”, Population First focuses on working with local communities and using tools including mass media, to improve the very poor awareness on ground about fertility, spacing and women’s autonomy over their bodies.
The Laadli campaign by Population First focuses on sex selective abortions that are rampant in India despite being illegal. You can follow them on Facebook too.
Pic credit: Doubleray (Used under a Creative Commons license)
R’s Mom is a working mother in Mumbai trying to balance work, home and baby. Learning the ropes of new motherhood and wanting to spend more time with baby. Running to catch up with read more...
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If you want to get back to work after a break, here’s the ultimate guide to return to work programs in India from tech, finance or health sectors - for women just like you!
Last week, I was having a conversation with a friend related to personal financial planning and she shared how she had had fleeting thoughts about joining work but she was apprehensive to take the plunge. She was unaware of return to work programs available in India.
She had taken a 3-year long career break due to child care and the disconnect from the job arena that she spoke about is something several women in the same situation will relate to.
More often than not, women take a break from their careers to devote time to their kids because we still do not have a strong eco-system in place that can support new mothers, even though things are gradually changing on this front.
A married woman has to wear a sari, sindoor, mangalsutra, bangles, anklets, and so much more. What do these ornaments have to do with my love, respect, and commitment to my husband?
They: Are you married?
They: But You don’t look like it
Me: (in my Mind) Why should I?
Why is being married not enough for a woman, and she needs to look married too? I am tired of such comments in the nearly four years of being married.
I believe that anything that is forced is not right. I must have a choice. I am a living human, not a puppet. And I am not stopping anyone by not following any tradition. You are free to do whatever you like to do. But do not force others. It’s depressing.