Nepal, a land-locked country lying between two economic giants of Asia, India and China, has been trying to modernize itself. Being a developing country and with the newly formed provincial governments, its roads ahead are tough. However, its efforts are challenged by several internal social, economic, political and cultural problems. Among many challenges it is facing, female feticide is a prime problem, which is my concern in this article.
Female feticide is the elimination of girl child after sex determination test of the womb of the mother. It can be associated with gender based discrimination, which has been much prevalent in the Nepalese society for centuries. Nepal is a male dominant society which prefers male child over female child. Male child is taken as “asset” in the society who later provides manual labor and continuity to family lineage whereas female child is taken as “burden” for she will be married off and will not be able to support her family financially as a backbone for her parents in the future. The problem is mainly acute in Terai due to the practice of dowry system since centuries. Hence, most families put pressure on women to give birth to male child so that he can take the family’s name forward, light the pyre and be the bread earner of the family. Sadly, in many parts of the country even the so-called educated people commit this unpardonable crime of murdering the little fetus before she enters this world. Moreover, we know such act would not be possible without the support of the doctors who use modern science and technology in this unethical practice. There have been a number of miserable incidents of the fetus being found lying in farms, floating on rivers, wrapped up in jute bags or given as lunch to the dogs.
Age-old structures and norms cannot be transformed overnight. However, with collaborative efforts involving politicians, law makers, police administration and ground level awareness, we can gradually eliminate this problem. Besides, there must be permanent termination of license of doctors and other health workers who get involved in this crime. Marketing of medical equipment designed especially for illegal sex determination and abortion should be stopped. Parents should be provided with basic awareness about the consequences of this crime and should be taught about the importance of a girl child in the family and the society.
Finally, in order to create a justifiable society, we must have a commitment to end this practice.