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No More Girls: Why Do We Really Want Only Sons In This Country?

More from Shambhavi Saxena

By Shambhavi Saxena

I hope it’s a boy. I just hope it’s a boy. No more girls, please. No more girls.” These haunting lines were delivered by Iman Ali in the 2007 film ‘Khuda Kay Liye’, praying for the health of her unborn child, but also reflects on the traumatic experience of womanhood she has had, and capturing the general attitude society has towards daughters.

little girl

Daughters, it would appear, require constant surveillance and disciplining, in strict adherence to rules of caste, class, propriety and respectability politics. With daughters, there is no equivalent of “boys will be boys” for a breach of conduct. In India, the preference given to boys over girls, from freedom of movement to education to work opportunities, is systemic. The economic and political worth of men, as breadwinners, heads of families, and the predominant demographic in executive and legislative bodies, simultaneously casts them in rigid roles, as well as dis-empowers women who are economic dependents or, as most people see them, deadweights. As far as generations upon generations of parents have been concerned, raising a daughter is laborious, impractical and offers no returns. Daughters get teased, harassed, raped, work in lower paying jobs, wear provocative clothing, and can drag the family name through the mud with their “loose” behaviour.

maitri dore mermaid_illustration
Illustration by Maitri Dore

Now we can switch from active to passive voice and back all we want, but the fact of the matter is that we sit up worrying about our daughter’s lives when the sun goes down, or when their phone batteries run low, or when they’re unaccompanied because the world has always given us reason to do so. The very knowledge that a woman’s body moving through public space is quickly deemed public property by lecherous creeps of varying caliber is enough to make a parent wish for a son. Because apparently, it’s easier to have a son – for whom the patriarchy ensures multiple social safeguards – than remodel society to respect women, women’s bodies, and women’s choices. It’s easier having a child who more or less has it made when the doctor says, “ladka hua hai.

Our daughters are receptacles of honour. Our daughters mean an illegal bride price we can’t even afford. Our tendency to discredit, devalue and dismiss the experiences of women goes hand in hand with our tendency to treat even the most deplorable acts by men with impunity. Our favourite films warn us: “akeli ladki khuli hui tijori ki tarah hoti hai.” Our rapists declare: “A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night.” Our peers respond to our harassment by saying we don’t know how to set boundaries. Our daughters are a source of constant worry and trauma for us. So we want sons, instead. We want sons, because we can’t ensure our daughters’ rights to live safely and with dignity.

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  1. B

    You’ve written that daughters work lower paying jobs. I strongly disagree. This is a myth that is dragged by feminists needlessly and endlessly. The truth is, many employers select good-looking women over highly qualified men, just because of women’s looks. Furthermore, the wage gap myth has been debunked many times, so please stop bringing it up again and again. You are paid for your work according to your experience, academic credentials, skills, and how well you do your job. It is not a question of a man and a woman working the same job not being paid the same, even two men or two women working the same job are never paid exactly the same amount. Secondly, women earn less because women work less number of hours than men, take maternity leave, work easier jobs than men, and take courses in college which pay less.

    https://youtu.be/vyFjPHwF6To

  2. Amlan

    The article seems hypocritic in calling 2 child norm ‘discriminatory’. That means they mean to say that having atleast one son is utmost important, and those having 2 daughters should try for a third child in the hope of getting a son.So 2 child norm shiuld not be encouraged??. Ignoring the problems of Overpopulation and Working Women and also married women to keep giving birth one after another hoping to get a son. And that a family without a son is incomplete?? Instead of telling parents to be satisfied by God’s divine will, of whatever gender of child they are getting, be happy and adjust accordingly, you people are telling parents to conform to man made patriarchy and keep hoping for son?? And allow government to relax 2 Child Norm, in order to facilate their ‘struggle to get a son’. Instead of driving for a social change to end patriarchal norms and structures that lead to son preference, questioning government policies of utmost important, and good intent, wont serve any purpose.

  3. Amlan

    Ultimate solution lies in ending Patriarchal norms which leads to son preference. Patriarchal family is based on a sexist fantasy that every family will have a son.Hence existence of such a family is dependent on the existence of a son in the family.But, naturally and biologically speaking, to the disappointment of the patriarchs, is not the always the case. Hence, such a system doesnt suits the natural, highly random, God’s way of gifting families with children. Son preference and highly skewed sex ratio are a result of humanity’s sin of trying to force nature to kneel down to ‘Man’- made impractical, biased system, again further leading to other serious problems.

    Solution:- Humanity Kneel down to nature and God instead of the other ‘conventional’ way around.

    Since, its not always that a family will have a son.So, the criteria that only a son should hold the family lineage, itself be removed. ie, replace patri locality and Patrilineal with lineality and locality based on birth order.That, the eldest or the youngest child out of the two, irrespective of gender, will hold and pass on the family name, stay with parents to take care, invite his/her spouse(of the opposite gender generaly, as in majority of the cases and of the opposite birth order) to join the family in a marriage. While the other sibling joining his/her spouse family in a marriage. In this way every family and parents will have either a son and a daughter in law or a daughter in law to be with them. Then, a couple are having 2 daughters or 2 sons or a daughter and a son, wont end up being a problem at all. And subsequently, Son preference will see a drastic end.Couples with single child can get their Child (at proper legaly and socially marriagable age) with other single child family to form a joint 4:2:1 or 4:2:2 family.

  4. Amlan

    Ultimate solution lies in ending Patriarchal norms which leads to son preference. Patriarchal family is based on a sexist fantasy that every family will have atleast one son who will hold the existence if the family linecin future.Hence existence of such a family is dependent on the existence of a son in the family.But, naturally and biologically speaking, to the disappointment of the patriarchs, is not the always the case. Hence, such a system doesnt suits the natural, highly random, God’s way of gifting families with children. Son preference and highly skewed sex ratio are a result of humanity’s sin of trying to force nature to kneel down to ‘Man’- made impractical, biased system, again further leading to other serious problems.

    Solution:- Humanity Kneel down to nature and God instead of the other ‘conventional’ way around.

    Since, its not always that a family will have a son.So, the criteria that only a son should hold the family lineage, itself be removed. ie, replace patri locality and Patrilineal with lineality and locality based on birth order.That, the eldest or the youngest child out of the two, irrespective of gender, will hold and pass on the family name, stay with parents to take care, invite his/her spouse(of the opposite gender generaly, as in majority of the cases and of the opposite birth order) to join the family in a marriage. While the other sibling joining his/her spouse family in a marriage. In this way every family and parents will have either a son and a daughter in law or a daughter and a son in law to be with them and hold the family. Then, a couple are having 2 daughters or 2 sons or a daughter and a son, wont end up being a problem at all. And subsequently, Son preference will see a drastic end.Couples with single child can get their Child (at proper legaly and socially marriagable age) with other single child family to form a joint 4:2:1 or 4:2:2 family. (edited and corrected).

  5. Amlan

    Ultimate solution lies in ending Patriarchal norms which leads to son preference. Patriarchal family is based on a sexist fantasy that every family will have atleast one son who will hold the existence if the family linecin future.Hence existence of such a family is dependent on the existence of a son in the family.But, naturally and biologically speaking, to the disappointment of the patriarchs, is not the always the case. Hence, such a system doesnt suits the natural, highly random, God’s way of gifting families with children. Son preference and highly skewed sex ratio are a result of humanity’s sin of trying to force nature to kneel down to ‘Man’- made impractical, biased system, again further leading to other serious problems.

    Solution:- Humanity Kneel down to nature and God instead of the other ‘conventional’ way around.

    Since, its not always that a family will have a son.So, the criteria that only a son should hold the family lineage, itself be removed. ie, replace patri locality and Patrilineal with lineality and locality based on birth order.That, the eldest or the youngest child out of the two, irrespective of gender, will hold and pass on the family name, stay with parents to take care, invite his/her spouse(of the opposite gender generaly, as in majority of the cases and of the opposite birth order) to join the family in a marriage. While the other sibling joining his/her spouse family in a marriage. In this way every family and parents will have either a son and a daughter in law or a daughter and a son in law to be with them and hold the family. Then, a couple are having 2 daughters or 2 sons or a daughter and a son, wont end up being a problem at all. And subsequently, Son preference will see a drastic end.Couples with single child can get their Child (at proper legaly and socially marriagable age) with other single child family to form a joint 4:2:1 or 4:2:2 family. (edited and corrected)..

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