Welcome to SPN

Register and Join the most happening forum of Sikh community & intellectuals from around the world.

Sign Up Now!

The Daughter Deficit

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by spnadmin, Sep 13, 2009.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
    Expand Collapse
    1947-2014 (Archived)
    SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Messages:
    14,551
    Likes Received:
    19,200
    The Daughter Deficit
    By TINA ROSENBERG
    Published: August 19, 2009


    In the late 1970s, a Ph.D. student named Monica Das Gupta was conducting anthropological fieldwork in Haryana, a state in the north of India. She observed something striking about families there: parents had a fervent preference for male offspring. Women who had given birth to only daughters were desperate for sons and would keep having children until they had one or two. Midwives were even paid less when a girl was born. “It’s something you notice coming from outside,” says Das Gupta, who today studies population and public health in the World Bank’s development research group. “It just leaps out at you.”

    Das Gupta saw that educated, independent-minded women shared this prejudice in Haryana, a state that was one of India’s richest and most developed. In fact, the bias against girls was far more pronounced there than in the poorer region in the east of India where Das Gupta was from. She decided to study the issue in Punjab, then India’s richest state, which had a high rate of female literacy and a high average age of marriage. There too the prejudice for sons flourished. Along with Haryana, Punjab had the country’s highest percentage of so-called missing girls — those aborted, killed as newborns or dead in their first few years from neglect.
    Here was a puzzle: Development seemed to have not only failed to help many Indian girls but to have made things worse.

    It is rarely good to be female anywhere in the developing world today, but in India and China the situation is dire: in those countries, more than 1.5 million fewer girls are born each year than demographics would predict, and more girls die before they turn 5 than would be expected. (In China in 2007, there were 17.3 million births — and a million missing girls.) Millions more grow up stunted, physically and intellectually, because they are denied the health care and the education that their brothers receive.

    Among policymakers, the conventional wisdom is that such selective brutality toward girls can be mitigated by two factors. One is development: surely the wealthier the home, the more educated the parents, the more plugged in to the modern economy, the more a family will invest in its girls. The other is focusing aid on women. The idea is that a mother who has more money, knowledge and authority in the family will direct her resources toward all her children’s health and education. She will fight for her girls.

    Yet these strategies — though invaluable — underestimate the complexity of the situation in certain countries. To be sure, China and India are poor. But in both nations, girls are actually more likely to be missing in richer areas than in poorer ones, and in cities than in rural areas. Having more money, a better education and (in India) belonging to a higher caste all raise the probability that a family will discriminate against its daughters. The bias against girls applies in some of the wealthiest and best-educated nations in the world, including, in recent years, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. It also holds among Indian immigrants in Britain and among Chinese, Indian and South Korean immigrants in the United States. In the last few years, the percentage of missing girls has been among the highest in the middle-income, high-education nations of the Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

    Nor does a rise in a woman’s autonomy or power in the family necessarily counteract prejudice against girls. Researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute have found that while increasing women’s decision-making power would reduce discrimination against girls in some parts of South Asia, it would make things worse in the north and west of India. “When women’s power is increased,” wrote Lisa C. Smith and Elizabeth M. Byron, “they use it to favor boys.”

    Why should this be? A clue lies in what Das Gupta uncovered in her research in Punjab in the 1980s. At the time, it was assumed that parents in certain societies simply did not value girls. And in important ways, this was true. But Das Gupta complicated this picture. She found that it was not true that all daughters were mistreated equally. A firstborn daughter was not typically subjected to inferior treatment; she was treated like her brothers. But a subsequent daughter born to an educated mother was 2.36 times as likely to die before her fifth birthday as her siblings were to die before theirs — mainly because she was less likely to see a doctor. It turned out that a kind of economic logic was at work: with a firstborn girl, families still had plenty of chances to have a boy; but with each additional girl, the pressure to have a son increased. The effect of birth order that Das Gupta discovered has now been confirmed in subsequent studies of missing girls.

    What unites communities with historically high rates of discrimination against girls is a rigid patriarchal culture that makes having a son a financial and social necessity. When a daughter grows up and marries, she essentially becomes chattel in her husband’s parents’ home and has very limited contact with her natal family. Even if she earns a good living, it will be of no help to her own parents in their old age. So for parents, investing in a daughter is truly, in the Hindi expression, planting a seed in the neighbor’s garden. Sons, by contrast, provide a kind of social security. A family with only daughters will also likely lose its land when the father dies: although women can legally inherit property, in areas of north India and China, they risk ostracism or even murder if they claim what is theirs. And sons are particularly important to mothers, who acquire power and authority when they have married sons. Sons, according to Chinese custom, are also needed to care for the souls of dead ancestors.

    What Das Gupta discovered is that wealthier and more educated women face this same imperative to have boys as uneducated poor women — but they have smaller families, thus increasing the felt urgency of each birth. In a family that expects to have seven children, the birth of a girl is a disappointment; in a family that anticipates only two or three children, it is a tragedy.

    Thus development can worsen, not improve, traditional discrimination. This can happen in other ways too. With the access it brings to cutting-edge technology, development can also offer more sophisticated and easier options for exercising old-fashioned prejudice. In China and in the north and west of India, for instance, the spread of ultrasound technology, which can inform parents of the sex of their fetus, has turned a pool of missing girls into an ocean. The birth of girls has long been avoided through infanticide, which is still practiced often in China. But there are even more couples who would abort a pregnancy than would kill a newborn. Ultrasound has been advertised in India as “pay 5,000 rupees today and save 500,000 rupees tomorrow.” In both countries, it is illegal to inform parents of the sex of their fetus, and sex-selective abortion is banned. But it is practiced widely and rarely punished.

    Finally, because higher education and income levels generate more resources, development offers new opportunities to discriminate against living girls. After all, if people are very poor, boys and girls are necessarily deprived equally — there is little to dole out to anyone. But as parents gain the tools to help their children survive and thrive (and indeed, all children do better as their parents’ education and income levels advance), they allocate advantages like doctor visits to boys and firstborn girls, leaving subsequent daughters behind.

    To be sure, development can eventually lead to more equal treatment for girls: South Korea’s birth ratios are now approaching normality. But policymakers need to realize that this type of development works slowly and mainly indirectly, by softening a son-centered culture. The solution is not to abandon development or to stop providing, say, microcredit to women. But these efforts should be joined by an awareness of the unintended consequences of development and by efforts, aimed at parents, to weaken the cultural preference for sons.

    The lesson here is subtle but critical: Development brings about immense and valuable cultural change — much of it swiftly — but it doesn’t necessarily change all aspects of a culture at the same rate. (India and China have myriad laws outlawing discrimination against girls that are widely ignored. And how to explain the persistence of missing girls among Asian immigrants in America?) In the short and medium terms, the resulting clashes between modern capabilities and old prejudices can make some aspects of life worse before they make them better.
     

    Attached Files:

    • Like Like x 1
  2. Loading...


  3. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
    Expand Collapse
    Mentor Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Messages:
    4,560
    Likes Received:
    6,989
    I was told by my Argentine friend, Otilia, that there are 3 women to 1 man in Argentina. Perhaps we should adapt their mindset and values in this respect and learn to be proud of having our princesses who shall give births to Kings and Queens.

    Tejwant Singh
     
    • Like Like x 3
  4. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
    Expand Collapse
    1947-2014 (Archived)
    SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Messages:
    14,551
    Likes Received:
    19,200
    Tejwant ji

    I am not minimizing your point or indirectly that of Otilla - but how do women find husbands and bear children before their biological clock runs down under these circumstances? It must be disconcerting for the women of Argentina. Most women want to marry and have families.

    Then there is the social cost -- because, when men know they are a premium, they begin to look at women as a cattle in a market place of prospects. Women in turn may make compromises that they don't really want to make just to marry. With their mothers pushing them all the way to the altar alongside some very questionable men.

    The social cost? Unhealthy competition among women over men? Domestic abuse at levels that are exceptionally high? What does Otilla ji say?

    Out of curiosity, what do the domestic abuse statistics look like in Argentina?

    Here is something to read and think about http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,IRBC,,ARG,4562d94e2,47ce6d7ca,0.html

    Citing a survey published by the National Women's Council (Consejo Nacional de la Mujer, CNM), an article in the online newspaper Minuto Uno indicates that one in three Argentinean women suffers from physical, psychological, sexual or economic abuse in her home, although the President of the CNM, Pimpi Colombo, stated that in reality the proportion could be higher (20 Feb. 2007). Agence France-Presse (AFP) cites a report by the Argentinean-based non-governmental organization (NGO) Red Solidaria, which links volunteers and persons in need (Red Solidaria n.d.), indicating that every year more than 100 Argentinean women are killed by their partners (AFP 4 Mar. 2007).

    and

    According to the Buenos Aires daily Clarín, the Gender Policy Office (Dirección General de Políticas de Género) of the Province of Buenos Aires reported that 70 percent of female domestic violence victims who lodge a complaint at special police stations for women and families (Comisarías de la Mujer y la Familia) are from a middle- or upper-class background, leading experts to presume that these women have more resources at their disposal to leave their abusive partners after they have reported them to the police (Clarín 11 Oct. 2005).

    And final observation from me and then I will be quiet. ;) When men outnumber women to such an extent, marriage itself becomes a pressure cooker -- and the health of relationships suffers. A woman may believe she has to "tow the line" no matter outrageous her husband's behavior may be and no matter his character and behavior. If not, he can snap his fingers and get someone else.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  5. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
    Expand Collapse
    Mentor Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Messages:
    4,560
    Likes Received:
    6,989
    Narayanjot ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    Sadly to say that women are treated in a bad manner for various reasons in the world over.Latin/South America where the Catholic church has its hold, it is a macho society where male domination is a norm not the exception.

    Even in Italy, there was a time when married women when got married had to expose their blooody sheets to the world to prove that they were married as virgins.

    In the US and many other countries in the western world, it is the daughter who takes care of the old/sick parents not the son. It has been the custom and attitude with these kind of values whereas in India it is the son/s.

    You are right when you say that more women to men ratio makes men more dominant and women more submissive especially in the Latin culture and in these countries abuse is rampant even where the ratio is not that high. However, there is a little stigma towards a woman remaining single or a spinster. Many of them also may become Nuns in these countries because of their higher ratio in order not to be ill treated by the men.

    But, that was not the point I was trying to make. I apologize for my clumsiness. In India, women are treated as a commodity because society forces them to get married when they become of age and are treated badly but the in laws if they do not bring enough dowry. Some women are burned by the in laws with kerosene oil because of this reason.

    So, as a daughter becomes a burden for the parents, that is one of the main reasons for the female infanticide in India.

    As Otilia works for a congresswoman, she did mention about some bills being introduced to protect the rights of the women. I have emailed this thread to her and asked her to respond to it. It will be very interesting to hear from the horse's mouth (no disrespect intended to Otilia :) ).

    Regards

    Tejwant Singh
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
    Expand Collapse
    1947-2014 (Archived)
    SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Messages:
    14,551
    Likes Received:
    19,200
    Tejwant ji -- When I researched the domestic abuse statistics in Argentina, the links to legislation did come up. And it seemed to me that Argentina is not going to fool around. The country has pumped a lot of money into special services, police interventions, and courts to address the problem of domestic violence AS SOON AS IT IS REPORTED. And that is more than I can say for the US. Naturally, it will take time before these changes really take hold because cultural attitudes, including the tendency for women to blame themselves and other women for their suffering, takes a long time to change.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Randip Singh

    Randip Singh
    Expand Collapse
    SPN Sewadaar
    Historian SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    May 25, 2005
    Messages:
    2,949
    Likes Received:
    2,952
    Here are some suggestions for solving this:

    • Payments for having daughters
    • Child allowance for daughters till 21.
    • Free health care for daughters
    • Free education for daughters
    If money is the language they understand, then incentivise it.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  8. otilia

    otilia
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    69
    In occident, and as far as I know among asian cultures as well, societies still are paternally (roman pater familia) organized, even in small details, still prevails male leadership, and power has a male perspective, you can see it in female leaderships, today, they relate power to manhood so they loose their femenine side (remember Golda Meir, Margareth Tatcher). If you go to poor families it is worse, because they offer their daughters for money, with good luck they can arrange weddings. And it is because they will be good mothers of "boys of course" (working labour force).
    Nevertheless there is a crime which is women´s slave trade, but that is a worldwide organization. With the international crysis few crimes give enough money and this is one.
    In South America it depends on education and social and economic status, marriage has become less an institution and young people try first to achieve their goals and then find a mate to start a life together, and think twice when having kids. Some don´t even get married if they get pregnant and become single parents (girls) May be it is, as I´ve told Teji, because there are 3 to 5 women for every man... I will try later to write some more, and excuse my spelling mistakes...
     
    • Like Like x 3
  9. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
    Expand Collapse
    Mentor Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Messages:
    4,560
    Likes Received:
    6,989
    Narayanjot ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    Yes, you are right. When the daughters are born then there can be laws to protect them against abuse, slavery, teenage prostitution/trade etc etc., which can also motivate them from the self denial of abuse by men.

    And then as Randip ji has put it, to give incentives to the daughters in India so they have the chance to be born. We have quotas for low caste people, why not for daughters who are born to anyone?

    Title 9, thanks to Late Senator Kennedy, has helped women in the USA to have the equal opportunities is college sports etc. etc.

    But this can only take place if we give a chance for the female fetuses to go through the gestation period and bring these princesses to the world so they have the fighting chance to fight against all ills.

    Thanks for helping me clarify my thoughts.

    Last but not the least, Otilia, thanks for making some great points about the subject. Hope to hear a lot more from you.

    Regards

    Tejwant Singh
     
    • Like Like x 2
  10. otilia

    otilia
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    69
    As Tejwant Singh explained, I work at national congress for a congress woman, who´s main subject is gender policies, and we in argentina are struggelling to pass laws against women´s trade, femicide, domestic violence. Some of them are already effective, and some need a deeper work in making women concious of their rights, because few year earlier it was habitual to be battered and women did not complain. But since our economic crisis in 2001, was women who went out to support their family, hand by had with men. This gave women a certain opening to the world that cannot be stopped. We are more aware of our rights and claim for them. As you open their mind you cannot stop them thinking for their own. And that´s what happened in my country, though it will take longer to spread this through all the country, without depending on social or economic status.... but education has already started. And I belive in other south american countries too. I work with young people, most women of 25 to 30 years and have a full conciousness of their rights, and claim for them if not granted.
    :yes:
     
    • Like Like x 3
  11. kds1980

    kds1980 India
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Messages:
    4,504
    Likes Received:
    2,738
    There are already various schemes by some Indian state governments.They are only successful for poor people.The amount offered in schemes is like peanuts for people which are economically ok or good .So in states like Punjab they are hardly going to work for sikhs .
     
  12. otilia

    otilia
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    69
    :yes: I believe all benefits have to be given to the daughter, more if she is 21, so that she'll be encouraged to complete her education, not to her parents, don't you believe the same?

    Besides, here in Argentina, your children under 21 share the same health insurance of their parents, whether boy or girl, but if they are in college it continues up to 25years old.

    In my belief it´s all about education, equal rights, same opportunities, don´t you think the same?

    Best regards to all,

    Otilia
     
    • Like Like x 2

Share This Page