What is it about boys… or men… or males… that fascinates us so much… because of which we are, as a society, collectively moving towards eradicating the girl child in the womb?!!!
Are boys really that special? Or dramatically different?
Every conceivable reason that I have come across during our research of people explaining why they want a boy and not a girl as a daughter does not seem to make any sense to me. For instance, "if we have a girl then at the time of her marriage we have to pay dowry", or "a girl cannot perform the last rites after the death of her parents, or near and dear ones", or "the girl can't take the vansh, or family forward"… etc. All these are man-made reasons. We have created dowry and are now killing the girl child as if she is responsible for it. We have decided for ourselves that girls can't perform last rites and then we say the girl is to blame. In fact, the vansh aage kaise chalega argument is one that is most absurd… because females are the ones who take the human race forward!!! Men can't have babies; the one who takes the family forward IS THE WOMAN! So, what on earth are we thinking? Where are these warped thoughts coming from?
We need to sit back and consider, not only this illness in our head, but also the fact that girls… are so special. A girl brings fragrance and joy into our lives. She has the kind of sensitivity that a boy may not be able to bring. The home lights up with a baby girl… girls are so caring. The delicacy, grace, beauty, and radiance that my daughter, Ira, brings into our lives, my son Junaid can never bring. He has other qualities which are unique and which make him special, and we love him as much. But what a girl brings to our lives a boy can't and vice versa. Because, both are unique. Women are far more caring than men are, far more resilient. And the differences between males and females ought to be celebrated, cherished and appreciated.
Customs are man-made. We can change them… and we ought to.
When I think of the number of women all across our country who are made to feel inadequate and insignificant. Who are made to feel bad that they are lesser for some reason… for carrying a baby girl in their womb. As if they were given a job to do and didn't do it right. As if they were incompetent. When I think of all of them, it really saddens my heart.
The birth of a child, or a mother carrying a baby in her womb for nine months, is a miracle of nature. And at such a time the woman has to be made to feel special… like a queen.
She is closest to God at that time… closest to nature at that time… in a place where no man can ever be! If we have any sense… then at that time we will value her as the most special being of nature, capable of giving life, which no man can do.
Instead of making her feel special, like she is, we make her feel small and judged. And ironically, for something over which she has no control! In fact, as we know, it is the sperm of the male that decides the sex of the child.
And what is this great hurry to discover the sex of your child?
Science and medicine should be used sparingly, to the bare minimum, and only for making our life more healthy when an emergency arises. The misuse of science to discover the sex of your child is not only criminal as per Indian law, it is foolish in the impact it has on society, and also, above all, you rob yourself of the magical moment when the new life comes into this world and you discover for yourself the gift that nature has given you.
In the case of all my three children the moment when the doctor told us "congratulations, you have a healthy boy / girl" was such a special moment for us, one that I will never forget.
Female foeticide has to stop.
I propose that we as a society should show only the highest regard, respect, love and appreciation for those proud parents of girls. We should do away with archaic customs which disempower our strong little girls.
Every time a baby girl is born in your family, in your neighbourhood, in your friends' circle, your love appreciation and warmth should be stronger to correct and heal this temporary illness that we are suffering from, and from which I am sure we will emerge.
And let's have a definite target. The census of 2021.
(Starting today, Aamir Khan will write a weekly column specially for Hindustan Times. It will appear every Monday.)