What is Female Foeticide?
Last week we shared about the reality of female infanticide. This week, we’re focusing on female foeticide. Next week, we’ll explore how these two practices contribute to the issue of human trafficking and modern slavery. It wasn’t until Dressember’s trip to South Asia in 2018 that the Dressember team realized how much infanticide and foeticide play a part in the issue of modern slavery. We invite you to learn more and use what you’ve learned to take action.
a gender-selective abortion where a female fetus is illegally terminated solely based on the reason that the fetus is a girl.
Having a child in many societies is an exciting time, it is the birth of a new life with the potential to be anything he or she wants to be. When someone finds out that they are pregnant, everybody’s first instinct is to ask: “Is it a boy or girl?,” and usually, whatever the answer is, it is met with excitement and happiness. However, in certain cultures, the gender does matter and the birth of a baby girl is seen as a curse rather than a blessing. In the most recent national Indian census in 2011, the female to male ratio in India is 1.08 males for every female. In the United States, the sex ratio is 0.97 males for every female, and the international average is about 1.01 males for every female. This low ratio in India is a result of the limitations that the society puts on the birth of girls.
In India, the female to male ratio is 1.08 males for every female.This is a result of the limitations Indian society places on the birth of girls.
In the country of India, female foeticide is the earliest stage possible in the discrimination of women and girls. It is a gender-selective abortion where a female fetus is illegally terminated solely based on the reason that the fetus is a girl. Through recent technology developments in the past 20 years, we are now able to detect the gender of the fetus much earlier in the pregnancy. Because of this, there is a rapidly increasing number of gender-selective abortions performed in India.
Female foeticide occurs all over India, from the rural villages to the urbanized cities. The government has made attempts to lower the female foeticide rate with acts such as the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostics Techniques Act (PCPNDT). The PCPNDT was enacted in 1994 by the Parliament of India and prohibits prenatal sex determination due to the rapidly increasing female foeticide in the country of India. Since prenatal sex determination is against the law and can result in steep fines, people find alternative methods to detect the gender and to also perform the abortions. Since the act was established, there have been amendments made to strengthen and enforce this law, but female foeticide does still occur and is very common. The most effective way to end female foeticide is to understand why and how it exists and take measures as a society to fix this problem.
Female foeticide is a result of a gender bias social construction that discriminates against women and believes them to be less valuable than men. In this patriarchal society, sons are preferred over daughters for many different reasons. Whether it be economically or socially, women and girls are seen as weak and are less prized than men. When it comes to money, girls can be more costly in this society because women are expected to be married off to another family. A social custom in India is that the woman is supposed to marry into a family of higher social status. So, if her parents want that to happen, they have to be able to give a large (expensive) dowry to secure that marriage. A dowry can consist of land, property or a certain amount of money.
Female foeticide is a result of a gender bias social construction that discriminates against women and believes them to be less valuable than men.
I read a story about a girl who went to a village in Haryana and spoke to the villagers to help them understand the importance of ending female foeticide. She realized the villagers, both men and women, agreed that having a son is much more preferred. They believe that without men or a son, there would be no one to take care of the family, pass on the family name, perform the special rituals, or protect the family lineage. Reading this story, it was hard to wrap my mind around how this truly does happen and girls are valued as less than men consistently by both males and females.
Through advocating for more education, women empowerment and spreading awareness of these issues around the world, we can improve the lives of these women and promote gender equality all over the world.
Female foeticide is a huge problem in this world as many girls are denied the right to live based on the fact that they are simply a girl. As some societies change over time, as more and more women get the chance to be CEO’s, obtain management positions, and even run for presidency - we must remember that not everywhere is as forward moving as other places. Through advocating for more education, women empowerment and spreading awareness of these issues around the world, we can improve the lives of these women and promote gender equality all over the world.
About the Author
Olivia Kyles is a Junior at Northern Arizona University pursuing a degree in Marketing with a minor in Spanish. She finds her peace in helping others and is so excited to be working with Dressember helping to fight against modern day slavery. She loves to run, has a passion for animals and is obsessed with literature and movies based off of the roaring 20s!