The world has been invariably hurtling towards progress. What was unthinkable a couple of centuries, nay, a couple of decades back is now more than possible --- it is in fact a regular part of our lives. However, even in such an environment of relentless progress, the improvements have been far from uniform across the world and across the socio-economic strata. One may think that backwardness is related to lack of money, or education. In fact, in many cases, one would be completely correct. One exception, however, leaps to mind from my personal background. In many parts of India, a male offspring is desired. But nowhere has such a desire and preference led to a more stark display of the ruthless cruelty that humans are capable of than in the north Indian states of Punjab and Haryana. To this day, even in economically well-off families, one gets to hear about incidents of female foeticide. These barbaric steps are not just forced by the distant relatives or the social mores. On several occasions, the would-be father and the in-laws are directly involved in coercing the mother to abort. The magnitude of such a betrayal of trust is beyond comprehension for those who are lucky to have been spared such a misfortune and ignominy. Thus the harm is not only to the female foetus, but the pressures make it a living hell for the pregnant woman. The steps taken by the government towards the prevention of such a human atrocity is relatively comical. Throughout the nation, it is illegal to get a sex determination of the foetus done. One needs to wonder if such a step towards prevention of a valid medical procedure is the correct step towards prevention of this social evil. Or is it more of a case of treating the symptoms rather than the basic problem. I feel that the root cause lay in the lack of respect the society has shown to its women. This is ironic given the ancient traditions of worship of the divinity in the form of the mother goddess. However, notwithstanding such religious beliefs, the society has been and continues to be incredibly misogynistic. While the current steps have been constructive and led to significant improvements, a holistic solution requires a deeper introspection into the fabric of the society and the position of women in it. One can hope that the future is brighter, not just for the girl child, but for the innumerable disadvantaged women across the nation.
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