A news item on a leading TV channel caught my eye yesterday. In spite of girls performing better in schools at every level, the number of girls joining the English medium stream in local government schools is still small. The reluctance according to a secondary school principal comes from the parents. In spite of the fact that their daughters have good marks, parents are often disinclined to see them join this stream. On the other hand they are insistent upon their son doing so, even if his performance is poor.
Another sad tale of gender bias that seems to pervade every inch of our social fabric. Though reasons for such a behaviour were not spelt out, one can easily guess them. Girls are simply meant to be married and the less they know the easier things become. Too much education may just make them too difficult to handle.
Gender bias in present in each and every moment of a girl's life, even before she is born. The sex ratio figures are ample proof of the number of girls that are denied the right to be born. It is believed that over 24 000 girls go missing every year in India's capital city. And even after they are born girls do not get the same deal as their male siblings. I have often written about the plight of the girl child as about possible ways out. I have often felt at a total loss when in spite of all our efforts we have been unable to help a girl child. I have often sunk into despair at the deafening whys that have no answers.
We have over the past years tried to convey to parents that there is no difference between a boy and a girl but it seems that things have not changed. As I write these words I ask myself whether really have the right to proffer words of advice knowing that the reality on the ground has not changed. Girls are still considered a millstone as they need to be married and marriage costs more than one has. I refuse to believe that girls are not loved per se. It is the social burden that the presence of a girl in the family entails that causes people to shun the. Or to look at the coin from the flip side it is the lure of what a boy can bring in that makes people want them.
The bottom line still lies in changing customs and mores. Easier said than done. Customs and mores are deeply ingrained in our atavistic past. To change them requires not laws and sanctions but perhaps intervention from religious heads and social leaders. It also requires every one to walk the talk. Till then little girls will not get the same education, the same clothes, the same food or the same care as the one given unabashedly and without restraint to their male siblings.