Female foeticide is killing (abortion) of female foetus inside the womb, by using illegal methods. The data of female foeticide is shocking and it needs strict law, attention and awareness to prevent this inhuman practice. The United Nations declared 11 October as “The Girl Child Day” and the motto is to provide life free from gender biasness, violence, access to education, healthcare and to provide safe and free environment to the girl child. On the other hand, the girl child is still being killed in the womb. The struggle of a girl begins as she is conceived.
The condition in the Indian society is very miserable, specifically in rural areas. A girl child has to face discrimination in every aspect of life, starting from womb to the end of her life. Because of her feminism, they also have to face foeticide, sex selective abortions, killing of infants (infanticide), violence, etc. On an average daily 77 rape cases and 80 murders were reported in India in the year 2020 (a report by NCRB).
A study of Asian Centre for Human Rights, Delhi reported that India witnesses one of the highest female infanticide cases in the world. The prime reason behind this is the preference of male child (son) over daughter. Further, due to dowry system, daughter is considered an economic liability. On the other hand, financial security associated with son, male dominance, more ritual and social rights to son, etc. make girl child a burden and weaker part of the society.
However, despite prohibition of sex selection vide Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994 that prohibits sex disclosure of the foetus, India still faces highest rate of female foeticide. The census data revealed that the female child population in the age group of 0 to 6 years declined from 78.83 million in 2001 to 75.84 million in 2011. The child sex ratio also declined from 945 to 914. These terrifying figures provoke the concern for the safety and rights of girl child.
Although the Government of India launched many schemes such as “Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao”, “Kanyashree”, “Save the girl child”, etc. to save and protect the rights of girls yet the data is still shocking and it demands social awareness and changes in the society. However, eradication of social evils such as dowry, violence against women, preference of son, low socio-economic status of women may improve the situation to some extent. Despite the fact that “the women are half of the society and it gives birth to the other half”, women are still treated inferior to men, there are many customs and rituals that favour boys as compared to girls. In many places, girls are not allowed to do rituals. In the Indian society the condition is worse as it is a male-dominated society where boys are bread earners and they are supposed to take care of the whole family while girls are burden and are vulnerable to exploitation anytime anywhere. That in turn may increase the rate of crimes against women, domestic violence and women safety issues, that lead to low socio-economic and low educational status of women.
Moreover, female foeticide has become a threat to the existence of women and the frequency is increasing day by day that causes low sex ratio. People believe bearing girl child does not make any economic sense and that girls do not provide any social advantages. The biasness against girl child in India is deeply grounded in cultural, economic and religious roots. The strong preference for son results in a life endangering deprivation of daughters. And it needs changing the mindset of people and protection of girl child by removing the myth that girl child is a burden.
ISLAM ON FEMALE FOETICIDE
Female foeticide, infanticide or killing the girl child is against the teachings of Islam. It is considered an unlawful act. Abortion is “Haram” (forbidden) and sex selective abortion of girl child is the biggest crime.
In Arab before the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ people used to bury their daughters alive which the Prophet condemned severely as it is totally unlawful and forbidden to abort the foetus without severe complications.
The teachings of Islam also mention the duties of parents towards daughters and there is severe punishment for those who ill-treat their daughters whether in womb or in real life. People who treat their daughters nicely and raise them giving full rights will be rewarded in the Day of Judgement.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “Whoever takes care of two girls until they reach adulthood, he and I will come like this on the Day of Resurrection (and he held his fingers together).” (Muslim)
Islam orders to treat our daughters well. The Qur’ān says:
“And, likewise, the beings supposed to have a share in Allah’s divinity have made the slaying of their offspring seem lawful to many of those who associate others with Allah in His divinity.” (6:137)
“Do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Surely killing them is a heinous sin.” (6:15 and 17:31)
Precisely, female foeticide is a matter of concern and it needs attention as it threatens the existence of women.
In today’s world women are ill-treated at home, harassed at workplaces, raped and murdered. A number of women are still not getting their rights and they are in the dark. They don’t even get right to exist in the world. These evils can be eradicated only by following the teachings of Islam. It declares women as an integral part of family and society that need to be treated well and killing of girls is a heinous sin. Islam preserves humanity by declaring killing of one innocent is killing of the entire humanity.
“Whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption (done) in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.” (The Qur’ān 5:32)
Islam uplifts women by giving them right to live freely without any discrimination. It protects them against social and religious evils by condemning dowry, gender biasness, foeticide and many more. It also promotes the existence of women with modesty, equality and humanity.
[Dr (Mrs.) Saba Taj, M.Sc., Ph.D., D.El.Ed, B.Ed. is Administrator, M M Model School, Kolkata]