Looking from the outside in - people, place and practice

Friday, March 25, 2011

A man's world

Every day 7,000 female fetuses are aborted in India.
— U.N.

Male babies are often more desired than female babies. Why this is, I personally don't understand. But of course it all boils down to how sex and gender are valued by each society, culture and individual living in a specific space. Women are most often perceived as the 'weaker sex', this might be true in some cases, where physical strength is measured. But what about emotional toughness and other forms of strength? How far can physical strength really get you? It is also about gendering someone in a specific way. We are all gendered everyday by others and ourselves to act female or male. Prefering a boy over a girl ingrains binary stereotypes of what is to be considered male and what is female and widens the gap between the sexes and genders. This allows no space for gender fluidity, which leads to more discrimination and intolerance. Walter Astrada beautifully captures gender issues in India, in his reportage Undesired, where it is truly a man's world...

"Until the 1980s, when ultrasound machines became more widespread, girls were commonly killed at birth or were neglected of health and nutrition to ensure their death. Baby girls were often left to die in dumpsters, buried in clay pots or poisoned. This horrific measures are still happening daily. Across the country there is a 47 percent excess female child mortality, girls aged 1-to-4 who are dying before their life expectancy because of discrimination."

"The arrival of ultrasound machines, and its subsequent exploitation, ushered in a silent era of organized crime. Now able to identify the sex of a fetus early in pregnancy, parents who learn their child is a girl often abort her. The government has banned abortions based on gender for the last 16 years. Every ultrasound clinic is required to have a poster explaining the law, yet this $250 million business a year flourishes because of deeply entrenched traditions, official apathy and the lucrative business of illegal ultrasounds."(

SALEM, INDIA - Priya, 4 years old, lives in the Life Line Trust Home. She was taken by the police after neighbors denounced her parents for beating her and burning her face. The Indian government has set up a network of "cradle houses" for unwanted baby girls.

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