Female foeticide, who is responsible male or female?

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James Kelley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm not sure I follow the logic of the previous poster's argument. But then again, maybe my problem is with the way the question is phrased rather than with the way that pohnpei397 answered it.

As I understand the first poster's statement, it follows that men, because they are male, are more likely than women to abort female fetuses. The suggestion, again as I understand it, is that men value other men (or male fetuses, which will go on to become men) more than women (or female fetuses) and are thus less likely to kill them. That suggestion simply does not hold up for me. Men don't particularly value men; men kill men all the time. Sometimes it's in war, sometimes in a hold-up gone wrong. In fact, I suspect that men are more likely to kill other men than they are likely to kill women. (But that claim probably is pretty weak, too, and dances around the whole issue of the fetus.)

In any case, I think that if the fetus is in a woman's body and that the woman has any say in the decision whether or not to abort, it's impossible (in my eyes) to deny the woman her share of responsibility. There are always pressures to conform or to yield to the decision of someone more powerful than ourselves, certainly, but doing so doesn't excuse our actions as rational individuals.

In answering the question -- or trying to answer it -- I think I really don't agree with the way the question is posed. Who is responsible here does not seem to me to be an either-or situation.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This type of question is a challenging one in many ways.  The first is that it is challenging to try to wrap our minds around the concept of aborting a fetus on the basis of gender.  Once we have been able to comprehend or at least grasp this horrifying reality, trying to assign blame is even more challenging.  Part of this disturbing trend is enhanced by cultural or traditional notions of the good.  Many believe it to be a cultral virtue for a woman to serve as mother to a son, temple sacrifices and intense prayer accompany this.  There is little in way of religious edict that embraces female foeticide, but this is how culture and tradition have been interpreted.  In terms of who is responsible for these perceptions, both genders have to share in believing in such misreads and thus the practice of female foeticide would be something that has to fall on the shoulders of both genders.  However, if one were to engage in deep-seeded analysis, it becomes clear that the Establishment of such "traditional" or "cultural" notions were not done at women's behest for they lacked the authoritative voice for the most part.  These edicts or assertions were created by individuals in the position of social power, of which men assumed such a role.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

So I assume that you are referring to the practice of aborting fetuses because of their sex -- abortion for sex selection rather than just because the pregnancy is unwanted.

If that is the case, I would have to assume that men are generally more responsible for this than women.  However, it seems that it is more fair to say that the society as a whole (rather than individuals) are responsible.  Presumably, female fetuses are aborted because they are not valued in a given society.  Because of that, there is probably a fair amount of pressure on individuals to conform to what society thinks.

So, I'd say society is most responsible, and you would assume that males are more involved than females in something that kills females because they are not valued.

krishna-agrawala | Student

The responsibility for female foeticide may differ from cases to cases. As per my observation in India, female foeticide is practiced by some couples jointly, this means by joint consent of both husband and wife. Generally this is practiced by very small number of couples when they already have one or more girl child, and are very keen to have a male child.

Also, I wold like to state with emphasis that, in India today, there is no social pressure to commit infanticide. Also the traditional preference for male child in India was not based on any love or lack of love for males or females. It was based on the very practical economic considerations. As per the old patriarchal society and joint family system male child along with his wife took care of the parents in the old age, while female child moved out to the joint family of her husband and took care of the parents of her husband.

nandinimcg | Student

In India, the practice of female foeticide has become quite common. The reason being simple: people do not want a girl.

After working with an NGO for a couple of years, I have observed that men play but little role in deciding for an abortion. The women are not totally responsible too, the obvious reason being that a mother can not, without any plausible reason, put an end to her own child's life.

Female foeticide, most of the time, is not an individual decision.

The mental pressure by the society and relatives is the main reason behind such a decision.

Now the question comes what does society has to do with it? The answer is: a lot. The reasons are many. Dowry, a girl's first and foremost burden, is the first one.  Then comes the son being the heir, an unsafe atmosphere for girls, societal restrictions and lack of religious privileges. There are numerous others, but these are the ones, that people give most of the time, when asked- "why don't you want a girl?"

It's a serious issue and the government is doing a lot. But nothing important can happen until it doesn't take more than parents' blessings in their daughter's wedding and women can step out of the house unaccompanied by their fathers or brothers.

So, the answer to the question: who is responsible?

The people, men and women.