Economical gains a reason for mothers preferring boys over girls

Meri News (13 December 2013)

According to a survey titled, ‘Women and men in India 2012,’ it was seen 22.4 percent of women wished for a male child as against 20 percent men. The data was taken from the third National Family Health Survey conducted by the Health ministry. This citizen journalist tried to understand the psyche behind the thinking.

In this age when people are talking of women empowerment and development, the psychology of women wanting boys over girls is surprising. This is not only hampering the already skewed male-female sex ratio but is also not letting the society grow to its full potential.

In an ideal situation the gender bias should be reduced and sex ratio should be normal but that is not the case. Atul Verma, a clinical psychologist, who has been practicing for the last eight years, says: “There are a number of factors that contribute to this kind of thought process. Would-be-mothers in our society, especially from the northern region, face the societal pressure of giving birth to the heir of the family. The heir can never be a girl child as she will go to another family after marriage and hence will bear the name of that family.”

Another interesting factor, he adds is that since girls are brought up in such an environment that they want to have a son, who will look after them during their old age. A member of Shilpakendra (a non-profit organisation working for old women), Nipa Banerjee pointed out the economical factor that might give rise to such kind of thoughts in women.

“When a son is born, we normally think that economically we will gain on his marriage, which is not the case at the time of daughter’s marriage. This economical factor plays a major role and many would wish for a son,” Banerjee said. She, however, pointed towards a phenomenon where people wish for having daughters instead of sons. “I have witnessed people with sons wishing for a girl child during their old age, especially due to the misbehavior of their sons and their daughters-in-law.”

When asked if insecurity due to rape and sexual harassment was any reason, Verma said: “Rapes are side effects of the bigger picture: the inequality of the sex ratio between males and females. Moreover, media also has a major role as, previously such kind of cases used to go unnoticed but now they are reported.”

Is there a way to change the mindset of people, especially women, Puja Trisal, General Manager at Smile Foundation said: “The change is only possible if education of women is given priority. Educated women are less likely to prefer sons over daughters. Also, sensitization of the community including women needs to be taken up emphasizing that women have equal potential provided they are given opportunities to realize their potential.”