Missing Mums: The Thing About #SelfieWithDaughters

By Anugraha Hadke:

After my father got to know about the #SelfieWithDaughter campaign trending on social media, he promptly took out his cell phone and took a picture each with my sister and me. I waited patiently for him to get done to remind him that he neither had a Twitter account, nor was he on Facebook. To which he promptly replied, ‘So what?’

Ever since the hashtag began trending, fathers have very enthusiastically posted pictures with their daughters in overwhelming numbers. The one question that is being increasingly asked is, where are all the mothers?

There were a few mothers who did put pictures, well, either they were grandmothers long gone, or not Indian mothers.

It all probably traces back to Sunil Jaglan, the Sarpanch of Bibipur, who started the campaign as a contest in the village in Haryana with the aim to reduce gender selective elimination in the state with the lowest sex ratio in the country.

Following his example, hundreds of fathers showed their pride in their daughters, with hopes to challenge the patriarchal mind-set of son preference in our country. Maybe the Sarpanch wanted to encourage the fathers because it can be seen that when the ‘man of the house’ is proud of his daughter, then she is more likely to be able to live, and grow. It’s also possible that the absence of mothers shows the deeper problems of patriarchy.

Today, there are 918 girls per 1000 boys, the lowest recorded child sex ratio in the country since 1951. This, inspite the fact that the general ratio in India has been steadily improving.

We are still living in a society where sons are the pride of the household, while girls are seen as a liability, a burden. The daughters of the house symbolise the family’s ‘izzat’, that her ‘honour’ (which is invariably attached to her sexuality) is tied to the house. A systematic, multi-layered cage of patriarchy entraps the girl child, who falls prey to gender selective elimination, still widely prevalent in the country. Beyond that is the restriction put on their social, economic, cultural, and even nutritional growth.

There are many deep-seated issues that stem from our society, religion and law that are stifling the girl child of India. And only a systematic and persistent chiselling of this multi-layered patriarchal cocoon with continuous dialogue, reforms and policies will help break it down.

While it is good to know that the fathers are being encouraged to step forward and be a part in shaping the future of the young girls of this country, this is not where the ball should stop rolling. Fathers need to ensure that their daughters have rights over land and property, access to the most basic constitutional rights like education and freedom from restrictions over their mobility and choices.

So go ahead, take that selfie, but don’t let yourself forget that there are millions of girls who will need a lot more than that.

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