YOU ARE THE ONE WHO IS GONNA CELEBRATE…

You were the one, who was lonely and deserted in the beginning…

But you were the one for whom God created her with such sophistication…

You were the one who wowed seeing the beautiful her…

But you were the one who accused her to be the cause of your sin…

 

You were the one who caused her so much pain for whole nine months…

But you were the one for whom she rejoiced the most on your arrival…

You were the one for whom she stayed awake so that you sleep well in the night…

You were the one for whom she skipped her meals so that you can have the best…

 

You were the one who desired her…

But you were the one who betrayed her…

You were the one who made lewd comments on her…

And you were the one who blamed her to be indecent…

You were the one who promised to protect her as a brother…

But you were the one who raped her physically, mentally and emotionally…

 

You called her ‘Mom’ when you longed for her lap to rest the pained you…

You called her ‘Sister’ when you needed a friend to share your heart…

You called her ‘Wife’ when you’re desperate to hide your face in her bosom for comfort…

You called her ‘Daughter’ when you wanted to boast about yourself as the best father…

But you are the one who breached your relationship with her in so many ways…

You are the one who’s responsible for her condition today…

 

So today,

You are the one who’s gonna set everything right…

You are the one who’s gonna give the credit, value and care due to her…

You are the one who’s gonna liberate her from the bondage you have put her in…

You are the one who’s gonna respect her for who she has been in your life all these time…

You are the one who’s gonna acknowledge her contribution in your life…

You are the one who’s gonna celebrate her as the Woman of Substance and Sacrifice…

WISHING ALL THE WOMEN A RESPECTFUL WOMAN’S DAY!

GENDER IS JUST A BIOLOGICAL DIFFERENCE, NOT A WAY OF LIFE

I have a girl and I love her to bits, as I imagine every Mother in the world must do, regardless of the sex of her child. But even though my child is my everything, the centre of my universe, there was still a fraction of a second when I betrayed her and wished she was born a boy.

Did that surprise you? It surprised me too when it happened. When I lay motionless,  barely conscious in the operating room, and when the Doctor pulled her out from the gaping hole in my belly, she held her up for me to see her for the first time. I was overjoyed to see my baby finally, but right on the heels of that pure joy came that sickening moment which was the biggest betrayal to my baby girl. Because in that moment, however small it was, I wondered how it was that I brought forth a girl, when its a boy I had prayed for?

It’s true, I wanted a boy. People used to tell me how myopic my views were, how archaic my reasons sounded for wanting a boy in a family that was overflowing with boys. They accused me of being patriarchal and old-fashioned. They didn’t know the real reason, and I told no one because I feared a backlash if I did – I didn’t want another girl going through what women go through every day. To be specific, what I went through. If I bore a girl and brought her up only for her to be stared at, catcalled, or heaven forbid, touched or violated by some disgusting leche; or even to see her being mentally tortured or conditioned into believing that she was weak, that she had only one job in the world, or that she was secondary to someone, it would break my heart just like it breaks the hearts of millions of mothers out there who have daughters who have faced the ire of the world for being a woman. No mother would want her child to suffer through things like differential treatment, lewd stares, periods, leaving her home for another, dowry, domestic violence, family pressure for babies, and the list goes on…  But the heavens gifted me a girl, and now I wouldn’t exchange her for any number of boys.

But am I the only one who wished to have a boy for the reasons that I enumerated above? I suspect not. There are parents who have wanted a boy for reasons far worse than mine. And that’s why we have baby girls being killed off in India – a nation known for its reverence to its vast array of goddesses, yet infamous for little regard to the women in their own homes.

I will not go into the gory details of what female foeticide and infanticide are and what the stats say about them. If you wish to know that, please click here. I’m here to discuss the reasons behind it. And my own story is part of the perception that fuels this problem. I know that women, in general, don’t have it easy in any part of the world, but I can only attest to the situation in my own country. In India, a female child is unfortunately considered by many, an unwanted commodity, who has to be fed, clothed, educated only so that she can be the nurturer for someone else’s family. And even though it is this girl who is going to eventually perpetuate the family of another, it is the burden of the girl’s family itself to bring the dowry. Is that not the wrong way around? Forget that, why must there be a dowry at all for a ‘family member’, or for a ‘human being’? Is that how families should begin – by a barter of the boy’s hand for money or gifts from the girl’s family? Who’s genius, twisted and mercenary idea was it anyway?! But dowry remains the prime reason why girls are killed in a mother’s womb or right after their births in India. The economic strain of rearing and the eventual loss of a girl becomes the reason for their doom.

Where does the problem lie? I believe it originates from our beliefs that there is a difference between a girl and a boy, apart from the biological ones. We rear them up from infancy to think that they are bound to certain ‘roles’ in society because they were born with certain body parts. I also believe that the problems faced by Indian girls and women today have their origin, partially, in how we bring up our boys to consider themselves the ‘superior gender’; the other half originating in women themselves who think that a girl is a commodity, to be hawked away at a price. The problem of female foeticide and infanticide persists even in the modern era because of our skewed perception of what a girl signifies. To most traditional and pseudo-modern Indians, a girl signifies a freeloader. Like every freeloader, she is taken for granted and treated as secondary, in matters of health, education, occupation, even in marriage. Who wants a freeloader? No one. And so, no one wants the responsibility of raising a girl, but they only want the ultimate benefit a girl brings – the furtherance of the family name. What noble intentions indeed!

To be sure, there are laws, government initiatives, family planning programmes, free education initiatives and other sops offered to parents to deter them from sex-selective abortions and infanticide, but to eradicate the problem from the root we must teach ourselves that a gender is not a ‘way of life’… it’s only a gender, a biological difference. 

I bet if we were to bring up a boy and girl in isolation they would exhibit emotions and preferences conventionally ascribed to both their own gender as well as those ascribed to the opposite gender. It’s only when society and cultural influences come in, that the gender stereotypes begin to emerge in a child. My girl, for example, loves cars instead of dolls, she digs shorts, not skirts, she won’t allow her hair to be pulled into a ponytail , she won’t wear ballerinas, but shoes and has a morbid fear of headbands. She loves any activity that involves getting filthy and tumbling around, and her emotions are never tempered by any feminine restraint. And yet there are times when she’s affectionate, motherly even, and does not flinch from being a diva – like when she says ‘cheese’ for the camera! She’s at once, a girl and a boy, and all of that is because SHE IS HUMAN. 

Perceptions like ‘you must cook because you’re a girl’ or ‘you must be strong because you’re a boy’, may have originated in necessity, so that the man could forage for the family while the woman tended to the home, but those times have come to a close. We live in an age today when our technologies and our education afford both the genders the ability to be either the nurturer or the bread-winner, or even both. Then why must we doggedly hold on to the archaic beliefs about ‘gender roles’? Why should we as parents perpetuate those stereotypes? Why teach our daughters that they must be demure, pliant, understanding, forgiving and kind ONLY because they are girls? And on the contrary teach our sons to be fierce, strong, unabashed and sharp ONLY because they are boys? Are these attributes not human attributes? Why must they be divided to define only a type of gender? 

Being parent to a girl should not be a burden, but being parent to a human being, requiring the same amount of care and effort that one puts into the upbringing of a boy child. Even if our worries about our girls are founded in the loftiest of good intentions, it’s ultimately a way of telling our girls that they are somehow weaker than boys. If we are to breed stronger women, we must start by making them stronger at home, bringing the change in our families, our perceptions, cut off traditions that teach us otherwise, and only then can this become a nationwide, or a worldwide change.

But until this change occurs in the upbringing of every child, boy or girl, and every family member, there will always be an ounce of worry attached to the birth of a girl.

 

KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING TO THE GIRL CHILD AROUND THE WORLD

I have written many emotional Articles but today I wanna be a little practical. So I would like to discuss some facts with you. Yes, facts about the girl child. 

The first and very interesting fact is that every foetus is a female at first. In the first five to six weeks every embryo starts off as a female child until the Y chromosome kicks in and the embryo starts growing into a boy. The biggest evidence that supports this theory is the fact that all male have nipples, as they were once a female foetus. 

  • India has the largest population of children (below 18 years), with 400 million.

  • India witnesses more than 27,00,000 child deaths a year, with the figures for female children being much higher than male children

  • 53% of girls in the age group 5 to 9 years are illiterate

  • 75% of married Indian women were underage when they got married

  • One in every two girls in India is malnourished

  • Out of the 12 million girls born in India, 1 million die before the first year of life

  • One out of sixth girl child dies due to gender discrimination

  • One out of every 10 women report instances of child sexual abuse (CSA)

  • Female mortality is higher in 224 out of 402 districts in India

Around the world, girls face barriers to education that boys do not. But educating girls can break cycles of poverty in just one generation. These statistics offer insights on those barriers and also illustrate the lasting impact education has on girls, families, communities and nations around the world.

1. 66 million girls are out of school globally. (UNESCO)

2. There are 33 million fewer girls than boys in primary school. (Education First)

3. A child born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5. (UNESCO)

4. Educated mothers are more than twice as likely to send their children to school. (UNICEF)

5. In a single year, an estimated 150 million girls are victims of sexual violence. (UNIFEM) [50% of sexual assaults in the world victimize girls under the age of 15 (UNFPA).]

6.14 million girls under 18 will be married this year. That’s 38 thousand today – or 13 girls in the last 30 seconds. (UNFPA)

7. The #1 cause of death for girls 15-19 is childbirth. (World Health Organization)

8. Girls with 8 years of education are 4 times less likely to be married as children. (National Academies Press)

9. A girl with an extra year of education can earn 20% more as an adult. (The World Bank)

10. If India enrolled 1% more girls in secondary school, their GDP would rise by $5.5 billion. (CIA World Factbook) (Global Campaign for Education and RESULTS Education Fund)

October 11 marks the International Day of the Girl Child, a moment to focus on issues facing girls around the world. A recent study by UNICEF found that violence is a major problem for millions of them. Here are five surprising facts about how girls are affected.

1. A huge number of girls have been abused.

A quarter of girls report being victims of some form of physical violence. That includes girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide—approximately 70 million girls—who reported violence since the age of 15. That figure only includes reported cases; much more go unnoticed.

2. Sexual violence is a big problem.

1 in 10 girls has experienced forced sexual acts. That’s about 120 million girls under 20 worldwide. A third of them are between the age of 15 and 19 and married, and have been victims of emotional, physical or sexual violence committed by their husbands or partners.

3. Most violence against girls goes unreported.

In some countries, as many as 70 percents of girls never seek help. Nearly half of girls ages 15 to 19 think a man is justified to beat his wife or partner under circumstances such as refusing to have sex, leaving the house without permission, arguing, neglecting children or burning dinner.

4. Child marriage is common.

More than 700 million women around the world were married before their 18th birthday. Around a third—about 250 million—married before the age of 15. And in some places, notably Syrian refugee communities, the incidence of child marriage is rising, not falling.

5. Bullying is widespread.

1 in 3 girls worldwide between the ages of 13 and 15 experiences bullying regularly.This includes direct bullying such as teasing or shoving, indirect bullying such as spreading rumours, and cyber-bullying.

When God gives you a precious Pearl

That is to love when he gives you a Girl

DON’T COMPLICATE THINGS

Hello Everyone,

When the topic for the week was tossed I thought there’s so much to write but my friends were a step ahead and poured their hearts regarding their concerns about how a girl child is perceived to grow up in a society like ours.  And I echo their thoughts.

Well after exercising my brain a lot as to what shall I present, I thought of bringing forth two examples (out of many) from my childhood but not directly related to my own life that had a lasting impact on my opinions.

Instance 1:  He was my junior in school.  A dancer by interest and a very bright student.  He was always a target of bullies in school.  Calling him “girlie” and many more names that I am unable to express (leaving it your imagination) here, was very distasteful to the core.

Instance 2:  I think I was in 4th class, there was one particular chapter in Hindi where the girl child of the family was made to do various chores because she was supposed to know every household task whereas the boy was kept aloof from all that. Ok let’s not into the details 😀.

These instances always made me think “Why this divide?”.  Why we as a society are hell bent on dividing the tasks based on gender.  A girl child by default is made to master the daily chores, culinary arts and she is the sole torch-bearer of the  honour of family.  Whereas a boy child is made to believe that it is acceptable for him not to participate in household tasks.  Rather it is somehow deemed to be a sign of supremacy to announce “my son doesn’t know all this stuff, I have never let him do that” and God forbid if it’s a girl, then it’s a matter of shame or social outcry.

First things first: We must understand one thing that nature have clearly done the demarcation of who does what and that’s final and irreversible.   By trying to divide tasks we are only complicating simple things.

What if a girl child wants to take up taekwondo classes at her will rather than an obligation for safety, what if a boy wants to learn dancing or cooking?  Why not let them apprentice what they want without deep introspection of what society has to say.  One line that is often passed around in our society especially with regards to a girl child “will so much education and learning change the fact that she has to take care of family and kitchen after she is married” really irks me.

On a second thought:  Instead of marking off and dividing tasks between a girl child and a boy child wouldn’t this be better that everyone knows everything or at least a bit of everything.  How about making children (irrespective of gender) share and rotate chores and learn extra curricular activities of their interests without differentiation of genders. That would help us to nurture a more confident, independent, considerate generation.

On contrary what are we doing ?

Defining territories and spell stress:  Because of the years of upbringing that define specific territories to be taken care of by respective genders we are making inroads for stress in our kids’ life in future.  For example a girl child when grows up with the lessons of being solely responsible for her household she is burdened by immense stress of doing it neatly to the T because she knows that she is going to be evaluated by her family on how she keeps the house or how she cooks and her counterpart most probably be unable to share that responsibility because he has never been raised so.  On the flip side he is equally helpless in her absence because of lack of know-how of even simple things like making a cup of tea.  I have witnessed such people.

Undoubtedly the numbers which we call statistics show an improvement in the number of girls receiving education as compared to our own previous records but giving education won’t be sufficient until and unless the rift, the divide between two genders is not mended.  It’s our responsibility to impart an important value in our boys as well (because throughout we have been doing the same to our girl child i.e. imparting lessons on life) that they are equally responsible for peace, sanctity and honour of home.  They are equal bearers of responsibilities of house.

To be precise I am not against a girl child learning the tasks necessary to run a household but then it shall not be the sole prerogative of a girl.  I am not here promoting the complete role reversals but definitely stand up for role rotations based on need of the hour.  And for that to happen we should start treating our kids equally in every way not just helping them pursue hollow education.

Remember one thing: Tasks are not gender definite except for few that are defined by nature.  You can ask your son to help in kitchen and your girl child can help you install that new television in living.  Let them groom in every possible manner.

BE THE GIRL

“You are girl, behave like one”

“You are girl, you should always lower your voice”

“you are girl, walk properly”

“You are girl, you should sacrifice “

“You are girl, you should respect others”

” You are girl, behave properly”

Have you heard any of these statements??

Yes, I guess quite a lot can comprehend these statements. I have grown up in the similar scenario too, being brought by a typical Indian family. Even if you have not heard from your parents, you might have at least from your so-called relatives, who just really don’t care, but want to pinpoint your faults. It is very common to see the people especially women itself degrading women. A girl child is also a child, she equally deserves to be independent like the boy child. She also has her own good and bad, which she needs to figure out.

Life can never be spoon fed, it has to be lived.

We all do take care of our kids, but it doesn’t mean having a girl child along makes your life dreadful. A girl child is also worthy of dreaming and achieving. No rules are laid for being a girl or a boy. Our society must understand that, yet they turn a blind eye towards it.

We, especially in India, the girl child is considered a burden. I wonder why do they have such a mindset. I myself have two little princesses, they are my world, I give them my whole life.

There happened a conversation, where I had argued a lot being a mother of two girls. :

“Are you planning for one more child? “

I was startled, and asked, “Why, I have two kids already, why I need more?”

“You have only two daughters, why don’t you try for a son? “

Actually, the word “Only” was frustrating me

I asked, “Why do I need a son, I have two independent girls .”

“No… for taking your family name ahead, ….”

I stopped the conversation with a sharp look, giving an answer for all the non-senses that was going to flow ahead

“It is not the boy or a girl thing, It is the child who takes the name. If you do good, people still recognize you as your parent’s child, not someone else. I still carry my family name, If I do good, it is my family who earns it.” I too remarked that “Girls are far better in carrying a family ahead “.

I get frustrated and angered, the conversation was actually boiling up my emotions especially when someone compares a girl and a boy. Where in the world, they have written rules like that. There are no limitations set by GOD, he lets us live it equally. It is us human who laid the rules and most of them not in favor of the girl.

Girls are not weaker, the more we strengthen them emotionally, they learn to fight. Once they know to stand up for themselves, none can hamper their growth. But unfortunately, we do not do it perfectly. We ask them to sacrifice, shatter their dreams, get scared of people as they might harm you etc.

Now, presently things are changing, the society accepts a few changes, yet the revolution is not highly influential. Let your girl child grow, enjoy the benefits of growing up equally, then only we can bring in a healthy society.

Girls are like a powerhouse, the more we add the power of will and strength in them, the girl shines out well. Teach them that they are not born for sacrificing their will and interests, help them to capture their dreams.

I personally, feel that being a mother of two girls is what I am proud of. They are my strengths, they are my everything. Nurture every child, boy or a girl, truly in a way that each facilitate each others growth. NurtTeach them to keep their head high.

It is the time that every girl born are saved, they deserve a life too. Not a life that has to be trashed finally, but to be lived truly.

SALAD BOWL FOLKS!

Sakshi was pregnant with twins. She already had a son so she was hoping and praying for at least one of the twins to be a daughter. When her pregnancy was full term and in her last ultrasound she asked the doc to tell her the gender of her babies at least now. And the doctor admonished her “Do you want to have your delivery in jail.” For those who may not know here in India it’s illegal to tell the gender of the unborn child. The doctor and parents are both liable to go to jail.

Why? When this basic information is available to the parents in other countries and they get time to prepare for the coming baby why are parents in India deprived? The answer is simple. We as a society have been very unjust and very biased against the girl child.

Everyone wants a male heir. One who will take their family name forward. Female child is considered a burden, a liability. She is a child who has to be brought up and then married. She will then go to some other family and take her new family’s tree forward. She will not benefit the family she is born to. It’s true, even the so called educated middle class and rich class also have such a thought process. So what do they do about it? They abort a female child. Female foeticide and infanticide are more common in our society than we realise. And hence the law…

This kind of biased and crooked society really rankles me. I have had a discussion with a lot people on this topic. Once someone told me that I can be preachy on this topic as I have already been blessed with two sons. No point in explaining to that person that I would have been equally happy if I had two daughters also. I don’t understand. When we are all human beings, and belong to the same species why we are all not equal.

I think discrimination has been prevalent in mankind right from the start. All over the world we can see cases of discrimination against fellow human beings on basis of gender, religion, caste, colour of skin etc. If we take a look at the history of mankind many atrocities have been committed against other humans based only on some whimsical difference in looks or beliefs.

This Injustice has been carried on for far too long. We have to get rid of our prejudices and bring in a beautiful world. There are so many other pressing matters that we need to concentrate on. I mean take global warming or pollution or floods, earthquakes or wildlife Extinction or deforestation or so many other issues. When the existence of the whole world is at stake what does it matter whether the person next to you is a black or a white or a brown, a girl or a boy, a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian.

My request to you all would be don’t judge a person by his or her looks or beliefs. Be just. If we treat everyone with equal love and respect, we will at least take the first step towards forming a just society.

Jane Elliot the educator and anti-racism activist has put it very beautifully.

“We don’t need a melting pot in this country, folks. We need a salad bowl. In a salad bowl, you put in the different things. You want the vegetables – the lettuce, the cucumber, the onions, the green peppers – to maintain their identity. You appreciate differences.”

WHEN A BICYCLE CRASHED…

It was a lovely day in the month of February. I don’t remember the exact year; perhaps it was the early 2000s. The sky was overcast, but a cool breeze breaking into gentle gusts intermittently flavored the day.  The leaves lay strewn on the roadside as the trees awaited the spring to grow back leaves. In the late-afternoon I was out on my ranger-max, my beloved bicycle.

I was making laps of the circuitous path in the church compound when I heard something crash behind me. I turned back and saw a girl lying in a heap with her bicycle. I would have laughed had it been a familiar face but I had not seen her before. She must have been new in the area or maybe I never noticed her.  I removed her bicycle and extended my hand helping her to get up to her feet. The touch of her hands made me go all giddy, and my head was floating in la la land. The touch of her hands was so soft. She wore a lovely frock. Her curly hair fluttered in the breeze; her dreamy dark-brown eyes, and a small mole on her right-cheek mesmerized me.

I enquired if she was all right as we introduced each other.  As she went her way I asked her to be careful but I hoped she fell again and I was there to help her. The few days after I met her my mood was in an uplifted state and I was all happy-happy. The beautiful weather augmented my emotions further and I felt a connection while listening to the love songs on the music channels or when played in my cassette-payer.

On the weekends I would be off to the church compound waiting to get a glimpse of her.  I would be impatient when she would not show up, and when she did, I would be irritated seeing her with her friends, as this made me hesitant to approach her. After a lot of trial and error and with help from my resourceful and useful friends I found her alone in the compound one day. Her bicycle was parked, and she was offering a prayer in front of the grotto.  I waited and when she spotted me she gave me a smile.  I wanted to dance at that moment. Had I been in my room alone, I would have, but I was out, and I did not want her to think of me as a buffoon.  We went to the nearby thela-walas and munched on bun-momos, jhal muri , and the kulfi ice-cream. What a day it was.

Three months had passed since I first saw her, and during one of our casual walkabouts she informed me that her family had to move as her dad was being transferred. I secretly wished to change things and make her stay. Alas! I could not do anything about it and a reluctant good-bye exchange followed.

Years later I spoke to her. She had grown up to be even more beautiful.  We kept in touch for a while and then she informed me she was seeing someone else.  I quietly moved on with my life, holding on to those wonderful memories of innocent crush,  times spent on cycling, making fans from dried leaves, feasting on ice-cream, tamarind-flavored jhal muri, and yummy bun-momos. 

On a lovely February day my ears sometimes scan around to listen to a bicycle crash, and in the eyes of my mind I see a beautiful smile.