- There has been a steep decline of girl children in zero to six age-groups – down from 901 in 1961 to 846 per 1,000 boys in 2011.
- Though dowries have long been outlawed they are now passed off as gifts from the bride’s parents and relatives.
- Having to send them with high-priced weddings and dowry, daughters have become a liability whereas sons would inherit the land and provide some income to the family.
Glamorized by movies, the media and the wealthy diaspora overseas, weddings have become a status symbol. The new trend of weddings has made it a very costly affair. While the rich enjoys such extravaganza, some can only dream of a wedding.
A large part of Punjab remains agricultural. To pass down their lands to the coming generations, sons are preferred over daughters.
Green Revolution had an adverse impact on Punjab which forced farmers to cultivate crops that required large quantities of water. But high costs of fertilisers and acute shortage of groundwater and equipment to drill the water out landed farmers in a vicious cycle of debts.Their financial condition further pushed the patriarchal society into sex-selective abortion.
According to the dailyo article, there has been a steep decline of girl children in zero to six age-groups – down from 901 in 1961 to 846 per 1,000 boys in 2011. Women make up 47.23 per cent of Punjab’s total population, compared to 48.5 per cent at the national level. The state’s female to male sex ratio of 895 per 1,000 in 2011 is far lower than the national average of 943 in 2011.
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A farmer who is now crippled with debts and on the verge of committing suicide would prefer a son to a daughter. Having to send them with high-priced weddings and dowry, daughters have become a liability whereas sons would inherit the land and provide some income to the family.
He certainly cannot keep with what is now a trend of high-priced weddings. But for something decent as it is expected from the society, the debt-ridden father takes more loans from ruthless private lenders as it is the only option available.
In Punjab, women are largely homemakers and the state’s female workforce participation rate is 13.9 per cent whereas the national average is 25.5 per cent according to the 2011 census data. But the male participation is at 55.2 per cent as compared to 53.3 per cent at the national level.
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The Punjabi weddings are known for their lavishness and extravaganza. Expensive diamond jewellery, decorated elephants, fancy gold-studded invitation cards, glittering wedding attire, imported alcohol, famous DJs, and grand hotel receptions kind of sums up a wedding. The gifts to the bride include brand new furnished houses, acres of land and of course, cars decked with ribbons and balloons. Though dowries have long been outlawed they are now passed off as gifts from the bride’s parents and relatives.
This trend has now caused parents-to-be to engage in the dreadful act of sex-selective abortions as the last resort.
-prepared by Ajay Krishna, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14