In India, women face extreme societal pressure to produce a son. It is a sad reality for many mothers that they bear the full brunt of the scorn and shame for giving birth to a girl child. They consequently become victims of abuse, beatings, and sometimes, even murder.
A research study (Voluntary Health Association of India, 2003) has shown that the most immediate cause of son-preference or sex-selective abortion is the perception of daughters as economic and social liabilities due to factors like dowry costs, protection of daughter’s chastity, bearing her living and education expenses with no expected return and concern about her marriage. (Thus, a notorious adage about raising girls is “watering the plant for somebody else’s garden".) Families desperate to escape the financial burden of having a daughter often resort to disowning the mother. The man is encouraged to remarry to increase his chances of having a son. Not only does the mother compromise her health and well-being, but she also loses “her status and honor” in society because of divorce or abandonment.
In our efforts to end sex-selective abortion, ADF India, through its Vanishing Girls campaign, is committed to helping courageous mothers who go to lengths to save their daughters.
In July 2020, ADF India allied lawyers helped Payal*, a young mother from Haryana, to be reunited with her four-year-old daughter Jaya* after nine months of painful separation. Payal had fled from her marital home with her two elder daughters, in 2019, after enduring years of unbearable pain and brutality at the hands of her husband and in-laws. Besides Payal, her daughters were also abused and tortured just because they were not the sons that the family wanted. Represented by ADF India allied lawyers, Payal successfully fought for her daughters in court and gained custody of Jaya.
Another young mother in Jharkhand, Sunita*, was abused, disowned, prostituted, and shamed by her husband and in-laws for giving birth to two daughters. In this case, the husband had remarried in the greed to have sons. ADF India allied lawyers assisted Sunita to file a private complaint in court, and an FIR was lodged against her husband and those involved.
The latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) data for 2019-21 indicates a slightly improved yet dangerously skewed sex ratio at birth–929 females per 1000 males. Such low ratios clearly expose daughter-aversion in the country. Sex ratio at birth is not just a medical record but an indicator of social attitudes and the gender balance which is necessary for the health of society.
We cannot sit idly by while girls vanish from our country, our neighborhoods and our families. We cannot turn a blind eye to countless stories of how mothers are tortured or murdered for bearing daughters.
ADF India is committed to defend brave mothers like Payal and Sunita, who defend ‘L.I.F.E’. (Love, Inheritance, Freedom and Equality) of the Girl Child. ADF India pursues this commitment by providing free legal aid and assistance to mothers who suffer abuse from their husband’s family and others for choosing to give birth to girls. This also includes women who are being forced to undergo sex-determination or sex-selective abortions.
You can help us! If you see any woman in your family or community being treated unfairly because of son-preference, report it to the local authorities. You can also seek help by writing to ADF India at email@example.com.
Subsequently, by making a financial gift, you can protect mothers and defend the rights of girls to be born in this country. This gift will go towards providing the best legal help for securing justice for the mother and the girl child.