Son Meta Preference in Indian Society
The Economic Survey (2017-2018) has mentioned that the desire for a male child has created 21 million “unwanted” girls in India between 0 and 25 years. As per the WHO, the biologically determined natural sex ratio at birth is 1.05 boys for every girl. For India, this is 1.82 for first-born boys while 1.65 for last-born boys.
Gender inequality is a multi-dimensional issue and it is related to making decisions on reproduction, spending on themselves and their household, and their own mobility and health. It is related to attitudes about violence against women/wives. It is related to son preference, female unemployment, choice of contraception, education level, age at marriage, age at first childbirth, and physical or sexual violence experienced by women.
The reasons behind the preference for son –
- The traditional societal set-up focuses on the son as being the main bread winner of the family. He is expected to earn and take care of his parents in their old age.
- It is apparently more expensive to bring up a girl child, not only do you have to educate her, you also have to save for her marriage.
- Incidence of rape and sexual assault in this country has put an additional responsibility of protection of girl child.
- Counting the family name and task of doing Karma has always been on the shoulders of the son.
- Lack of education, people are not educated enough to fight against orthodox traditional ideas.
- Over population with poverty, so in lack of resources, people tend to choose boys over girls.
- A patriarchal mindset, in which women can not step out of the house for work.
- Right to property is given to the son.
Consequences of Son Meta Preference –
The survey has taken note of the behavioral pattern of Indian parents who prefer to have children “until the desired number of sons are born” calling the “son meta-preference”. Unwanted births lead to population increase and lead to conflict in society as people are not able to fulfill their basic needs and get stuck in a vicious cycle of poverty.
- Son-meta preference limits the resources to be used for the betterment of girls.
- Preference for a son leads to an imbalance in the sex ratio.
Plausible Solutions to the Problem:
The issue of son meta preference is debatable. Our society needs to rethink as it can bring various challenges in long term and can endanger our identity. We need to do collective efforts for addressing this, as no single individual is responsible for this-
- To fight against gender inequality we need to promote education. So that people can fight against the ill will of society.
- Proper implementation of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Sukanya Samridhi Yojna etc.
- Now daughters also have the right to property in accordance with a recent judgment of the Supreme Court.
- Women empowerment.
- Equal opportunities should be given in every sphere of life.
- Dowry needs to be completely eliminated from society.
- Women’s safety needs to be strengthened.
- Health policies should especially be focussed on IMR and MMR.
The issue of gender inequality will be resolved if people will give up preferring a son and if a son and daughter will be given equal treatment without discrimination. The gap present between both genders will take time to fill but our collective efforts will bring about equality for sure.
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