Petals in the Dust

I had the opportunity to watch a screening of the heart-wrenching documentary “Petals in the Dust” followed by a Q&A session with its director Nyna Caputi yesterday. I went there thinking I’d come out appreciating my existence as a girl born into a privileged environment but I left with a deep sense of disgust for the inequality rooted in our culture that prefers boys over girls for a myriad of reasons – bread earning, dowry, old age insurance policy, etc. If there is one thing that life has taught me it’s that if you give a girl the chance or the challenge she can do all that a boy can do and more!

Unfortunately though, it’s not just men who prefer boy children but women too. Many times mothers and mother-in-laws are responsible for female foeticide which leaves me thinking ‘Shouldn’t you kill yourself first since you are a girl too?? Your parents must have overseen that by mistake. Go shoot yourself.’

By 2020 there will only be 80 women to 100 men in India! Is that not scary? The documentary had many examples of women being sold into matrimony to whole families because some villages are ‘running out of women’.

Baby boys are breastfed twice as long as baby girls, they grow up getting more food, better clothes, better education…and then their parents sell them off against a dowry. Baby girls, on the other hand, are killed, given away, maltreated and cursed. These may sound like edge cases that only occur in lower class society and we upper class people tend to ignore. But look around yourself and see what happens in your own class: Aren’t the laddoos bigger and better when a boy is born? Doesn’t the granny force you to keep having children until the baby boy shows up? Isn’t the only concern of fathers to get you married as soon as you turn 18? Isn’t it frowned upon if you earn an above average income because you are going to ‘develop your own opinions’? Aren’t you told what suits a girl and what does not? … Isn’t this in some ways worse than what’s happening in lower class society where you can blame their behavior on lack of education?

I just came back from India, where I met my cousin’s two little daughters for the first time and spent every single day of my stay with them. With my hand on my heart I can say there is nothing more endearing than having daughters. They are a blessing, not a curse. I pray to God every day that I get to experience being the mother of (a) daughter(s) one day too! And I promise I will teach her there is nothing she can not do that a boy can do if she wants to and yet maintain her femininity.

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