-Mrinalini Shinde

It was International Day of the Girl Child, a couple of days back. It hurts,  that we have to create awareness about something as fundamental, and it hurts, when even today, my anaesthesiologist mother regularly gets questions asked, like- “Two daughters? That’s it? No sons? Aren’t you a doctor? Didn’t you try?” There’s so much said, and that can be said, about sex selective abortion and discrimination against the girl child, that I’m not going to write about it today.  But it hurts, when a representative of the people, declares that child marriage is a solution to the crime of rape, and it hurts, when a fourteen year old girl is shot, on the way back from school, for demanding that girls be allowed to  go to school.

In the past couple of years, I’ve taken some assorted shots of girls I’ve met along the  way, and I thought I’d compile them as a short photo-essay, in honour of International Day of the Girl Child, and dedicated to the indomitable Malala Yousafzayi.

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Gender F

3 thoughts on “Gender F

  1. Oct 11, 2012 was the first ‘ International Day of the Girl Child ‘ with the United Nations declaring the same day every year to raise awareness of inequality faced by girls worldwide.

    Firstly, as you put it, it hurts to create awareness about something so fundamental. And awareness is necessary. But awareness of what?

    Foeticide, infanticide, rape and child marriage are social evils/crimes that should not be tolerated. And today’s society, demands awareness against these injustices faced by Gender F. But, we need to understand, in some other time or place, we could be talking about these same social evils on Gender M. Because, all of the above mentioned social evils/crimes are associated with Gender F as much as they are associated with Gender M. If in today’s times Gender F witnesses an increase in facing these injustices, in future it could be the opposite gender.

    What I’m trying to say is that the emphasis is not on the Gender, but the injustices or existence of social evils. And awareness is required to combat these issues, without the consideration of Gender. How differently would you look at it if it was male foeticide, male rape or child marriage involving underaged boys? The emphasis, I repeat is on human rights being violated and existence of social evils and crimes. This is what needs awareness.

    Isn’t it an irony that we are striving towards equality by developing an ‘International Day for the girl child’? Isn’t that a bias in itself? Malala Yousafzayi deserves respect and prayers for her work and vision in a suppressed society. Anyone who has been wronged and has the courage to stand up against an unfair society demands support and respect. Thats the point and not the over emphasis on her gender.

    1. Hi Spiritum! (if I can call you that?) Thank you for your wonderful comment. On a theoretical level, and in an ideal world, I absolutely agree with you. Any human rights violation, irrespective of the gender it is targeted against, is to be abhorred, and outraged against. However, if you look at the pertinent status quo, I think it is quite evident that the Gender F has been targeted against. It’s not Malala’s gender that is being emphasised, but the cause for which she stands, girls’ education in a patriarchal society that is being emphasised. It’s not because I choose to express outrage only against violations of the rights of women, it’s because the perpetrators of those violations almost exclusively target Gender F. Protesting against these acts now, in no way indicates, that we condone violations against men now, or in the future.
      Yes, the UN declaring an International Day of the Girl Child, even as a tokenism, indicates a bias. But I think, the scales have been tipped the other way for far too long, for equality to exist, merely by the adoption of equality as an ideal. It’s going to take a lot of pro-female bias to level the scales again, and I am all for this bias, in order to achieve this greater end of equality, that both of us seem to agree upon. Gender is a social construct, it has little to do with biological sex. I wish we lived in a genderless society, but I don’t see that happening, anytime soon. I take this stance because, it’s sex selective abortion against the girl child that seems to exist. While obviously, human rights, of all human beings should be upheld, irrespective of any differences, we cannot afford, in this idealist perspective, to ignore the fact that indeed, one gender is being discriminated against.

      1. Hey Mrinalini,

        First of all, Spiritum it is.

        It is good to see my comment take the form of a discussion and not an argument. And reading through your response, makes me feel my words and thoughts have not lost out much during interpretation. I appreciate both of these.

        We seem to agree on the existing problem. Let me tend to clarify where I, or rather, we disagree. The fact that gender F is subjected more to violation of their basic rights and freedom in today’s times, is undoubted. And yes, ‘the scales have been tipped the other way for too long’. We need to ensure this injustice stops and the gender bias does not exist. But i dont believe that pro female bias is going to help us achieve that. To attain equality, we need to stop talking of gender bias, which is the most practical means to combat discrimination of any kind. Whether it be pro or anti female bias, its not going to help us level the scales. It will only thicken the lines of divide between the two. And gender being a social construct, we need to emphasize that laws and human rights are indifferent towards either gender, rather than associate injustice with gender.

        And I believe this should be possible on a practical level in a not so ideal world.

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