State of things

Except for being born in the state of Haryana and the initial year or so, I have never really stayed there. What I have done, is visit the state at least couple of times a year, visiting family. And I have looked at the state as an insider, visited various cities, but more importantly visiting the villages..the prosperous ones close to Delhi and the not so forward thinking ones in the interiors and ones with desert soil close to Rajasthan border. And not once, but a couple of times every year, for years till I moved out of the country.

So when people talk about Haryana and their views of the state, to me they come out as stating peripheral views, facts gathered from what is printed or broadcasted by the media. So when people talk about abortion of girl fetus prevalent within the state, there are so many things I want to add. Why? Because there are so many sides to a story, so many angles that get missed.

But before I begin, let me state a very simple fact and get it out of the way: Haryana is a state obsessed with a Male child.

No questions asked, but then that is true for most of the other states in India..so why does Haryana get such a bad rep? Well because the state has the most recorded number of sex selection abortions or at least the most reported.

Let me tell you a story that I saw repeated over and over again as I made my yearly visit to my ancestral village. The women were different every time..the story, exactly the same.

Picture this: A woman about 2-3 months pregnant sitting on the floor surrounded by a couple of other females from her family. On the Khaat or pidhaa, sitting a social worker. There is talk about family planning..Hum do, humaare do..The big mantra of the 80’s. The social worker trying to convince the pregnant lady to not have another child after she delivers the one she is carrying. The pregnant lady has a girl child already, so all other women in the family insist that a boy child is important and the pregnant lady can’t stop till she has one. And so goes the discussion.
Till the social worker, who I guess has a quota to meet or something, says why don’t you go to a doctor and check what you are having? If you are having a girl child, you can always get it aborted. This will be economical in the long run since you don’t have to take care of the girl child, plus if you have an abortion right now you can get back to making that male child all the more sooner.
Now you have to remember that the pregnant woman and all her relatives are illiterate, with no exposure to the outside world, no TV, not even a radio. So they don’t understand most of the what the social worker is explaining, but questions are asked, answers patiently given. Finally a doctors address is handed over to the pregnant woman, with a promise that a van will come pick her up the next morning. And if everything goes well, she will be home in a couple of hours, secure in the knowledge that she will have a boy. Else she will have her abortion and be back home to cook dinner.

So many times I saw this, so many times I saw my mother rant and rail against all of this, so many times my dad tried to explain how things really worked, so many times I saw a black Jeep stop outside the village and a pregnant woman step inside, so many times I saw her come back having terminated her pregnancy.

Now that I am older and have my anger in check and really know how things work, I feel deeply saddened at all the misinformation fed to these women. At 2-3 months pregnant, the chances of knowing that you have a male fetus are about 50%. Even at 5 months there is a chance that a male fetus can be misinterpreted as a female. So really along with getting a female fetus, a lot of male fetus were getting aborted too. Which is not to say that the statistics make the abortion any better or the intent behind it all right.

Anyways cut to current times. What happened to after all the sex selection abortions? Well simple. The male to female ratio got skewed. And like everything there are repercussions when you mess around with the natural order of things.

The repercussions in this case is that there is a dearth of women to marry those sons that people so desperately wanted. Plus the thing to remember is that Haryana is a farming community and marriages are fixed based on the amount of farm land the guy has to his name. More the number of sons someone has, more parts the land gets divided in to, less the guy is desirable as a marriage partner. And when there are lesser number of women to choose from things get really interesting.

So now marriages in Haryana have gone the opposite route than most of India. Marriages are happening without any money spend by the bride’s family. Once yes is said by both sides, a sweet is made to be had by everyone, 1 Rs given to the groom and a quick ritual takes place in front of all the people present at the time of the yes is said. Done. No big wedding, no grand dressing up, no dowry.

Again none of this makes what happened all right, but at least the current generation is learning from what happened in the past. At least the current generation is not going overly crazy about having a male child. There is hope and with a little more education and with correct guidance things can get a lot better. The first step has been taken. Now we just have to ensure that we continue to move forward in the right direction and not regress.

I would like to thank Nu for tagging me for the post contest for Indusladies and as you have guess the topic I chose was ‘Female infanticide & Sex Selective Abortions’.

I would love to hear from Titaxy, Chatterbox and Trish and anyone else who is reading this, if you have not already written a post for the contest.

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31 thoughts on “State of things

  1. Wow! your post left me go blank for good 5 minutes.
    Excellent mind boggling post Comfy.

    You are very right, ruthless female infanticide in the name of keeping population in control and having as many male children in the family as possible cannot be justified no matter what is done to keep the overall population under control.

    You highlighted a great insight on how people have been acting blindly to follow traditions in the darkness of illiteracy.

    Thanks Comfy for tagging me:)
    I need to get head scratching to come up with something real thought provoking (unlike what I usually write) for this tag.

    Cheers!!

    1. We as a country need to get over our obsession with male child..and need to make an effort to educate people..Show them the complete picture..not part of what we want them to see..

      Looking forward to your post Chatterbox.

  2. Thank god Times are changing !!! 🙂

    on a lighter note… :

    what only 1 rupee dowry !!!!!!!!!!!!

    I was much better than !!!!!!!!! 😛 😛 😛 I got one Godrej cupboard !!!!!!!! 😀 😀 😀 😀

    Bhagooooooooooo !!!!!

    1. lol..Your Dowry..rather lack of one..was the first post I ever read..so can’t help but laugh 🙂

      1 Rupee is not dowry actually..it is some rasam..shagun thing..which the groom is suppose to keep forever…or something..

      So 0 Rupee in dowry..you are way better off. 😛 😆

  3. Silver lining there if the current gen is learning! Its nice that what they hv done hs got bk to them .. the best teacher!
    Its so painful to hv seen all that na Comfy 😦

    1. Even the so-called educated ppl crave for a male baby and thatz what hurts me the most 😦 Don’t they know their wives r not even responsible for the sex of the baby 😦
      They say they r safe if the first one is a male, so that they can be tension-free abt the second one 😦

      1. That was the next part of the post I wanted to write. The educated ones going for an abortion..but the post got too long..and the example I was planning on giving had nothing to do with Haryana..so I let it be..

        May be will write another post on that..

  4. Thanks for sharing the info Comfy… I had no idea of this side of the story…

    But the irony here is – dowry still has to be given, even if it’s just a rupee. Some customs are so deep rooted I tell you…

    1. Hmm..I don’t think the Rupee is given or taken as dowery.. It’s some other shagun thing..

      In fact as far as I know, dowry has never been part of marriage in Haryana. The parents of the bride (they are farmers remember and hence don’t have a lot of money) give stuff like furniture and kitchen items based on if they can afford it or not..but nothing is ever demanded by the groom side. Which is all part of Aryasamaaj influnce which is big in Haryana, along with widow remarriage, only four pheras etc..

      But with the change of time..the groom side is now starting to give dowry to the bride side.

  5. No clue about this side of the story Comfy..as you mentioned, all we hear are one side of the story, I guess. Thanks for sharing. I will take up this tag for tomorrow… Thanks 🙂

  6. sad state of affairs Comfy. my toes curled and even reading this made me feel a bit nauseating. Wonder what the girls must be going thro. 😦

    u know, reading blogs of people coming from different backgrounds gives me much more insight to many things.

    1. I can’t imagine what these girls go through.. It’s not easy to forget a child that could have been..no matter how you justify it.

      Yup that’s the thing I love most about blogs..you get insight on so many different things..you get to know so many sides of the story..

  7. Fascinating post. Economists and social scientists have for long predicted (and hoped) that with decreasing ‘supply’ of girls/brides, demand for them will increase & they’ll be treated with more respect. Until now, the decreasing supply only led to forced marriages, kidnappings, sexual abuse/assault, etc., and to other horrendous traditions like ‘mihr’ and/or reverse dowry, in which the girl is actually auctioned off by her male relatives.

    Glad to know that in some places the pendulum’s shifted to a more balanced place, i.e. “at least the current generation is not going overly crazy about having a male child”.

    1. The pendulum is indeed shifting. I see that and hear about that all the time..

      I almost tagged you for this, but was not sure how you would perceive it. But would love to hear from you, so please feel free to pick a topic from the site and write about it.

  8. Plenty of people like that in Delhi too. Trust me. Haryana isn’t the only one. We still find such thoughts even in the most educated families in the Capital. Sucks though.

  9. Well written. A lot of men in Haryana are marrying women from the South, because there aren’t many women left. A colleague from Kerela who got married to a man from Haryana recently highlighted this fact. I didn’t know whether to laugh or feel angry!
    I came from IndusLadies site 🙂

    1. Thanks for stopping by Meira..

      I had not heard about them marrying women from the south. Hmm..may be it’s time for me to come visit India again..I seem to be out of touch with the latest happenings 🙂

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