Girls as young as 5-years-old are forced by their families to go through sex change so that they could raise a boy. This shocking claim by children's rights groups led to an ongoing investigation in India.
India might have one of the highest population on earth, at 1.21 billion and rising. The number is also set to take over China’s population count by 2030. Yet, its gender balance is in a very precarious position with 886 girls born to every 1,000 boys in New Delhi alone, in 2001. The country’s general favoritism of boys versus girls have led to many social issues such as female foeticide, the abandoning of baby girls and more recently, the shocking news of forced sex-change on young Indian girls! The preference for baby boys compared to girls is due to cultural practices. Families of young eligible Indian women are expected to carry the burden of the cost to marry off their daughters. It is also believed that more middle-class and educated families are doing so due to money concerns. Such families are said to be greedy and they refused to share properties or invest in a girl’s education even.
A probe into allegations
Recently, the Madhya Pradesh (MP) government were instructed to conduct a probe into allegations that baby girls were being subjected to sex change surgeries. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights in India asked the MP government to carry out the investigation due to a claim that up to 300 girls were surgically turned into boys in one city after their parents paid about SGD$4,000 each for the operations. The inquiry found doctors who claimed that girls with genital abnormalities were being sent to the city’s clinics to be “surgically corrected” and that only children born with both male and female sexual characteristics were eligible for the procedure. However, women and children’s rights advocates say that the parents and doctors were deliberately misidentifying the children’s conditions to turn girls into boys.
The surgery, known as genitoplasty, fashions a penis from female organs, with the child being injected with male hormones to create a boy.
Dr V P Goswami, the president of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics in Indore, described the disclosures as shocking and warned parents that the procedure would leave their child impotent and infertile in adulthood.
“Genitoplasty is possible on a normal baby of both the sexes but later on these organs will not grow with the hormonal influence and this will lead to their infertility as well as their impotency. It is shocking news and we will be looking into it and taking corrective measures,” he said. “Parents have to consider the social as well as the psychological impact of such procedures on the child.”
Ranjana Kumari, of the Centre for Social Research and one of India’s leading campaigners against female foeticide, said the surgical transformation of girls into boys without their informed consent was a sign of India’s growing “social madness”. She said she despaired that education had failed to stop the growing rejection of baby girls in India.
The spiritual value of a girl
The government needs to address the problem by stressing the spiritual value a girl or woman brought a household in Hindu culture. “In India we say God resides in that house where there’s a woman but that has evaporated because of all this greed. We need to emphasise the spiritual wealth a girl brings to a family, but we also need to support them with financial subsidies and jobs,” she added.
A recent study by the Indian census discovered that between 4 million and 12 million girls are thought have been aborted from 1980 to 2010. While the first daughter might be kept, often the second female foetuses are terminated upon gender screening. Unfortunately, despite government probes and incentives, the trend does not seem to be slowing down.
Sneha Samueal, an Indian national who is currently working in Singapore commented on the situation. She said, ‘I was interning in a hospital in Madurai which is in South India and a majority of the orphans sent there were girls. They were abandoned on road sides, on bridges and beside railway tracks. However, these were in rural areas where poverty-stricken mothers are forced to forgo their daughters as they do not have the means to support the child. It is shocking to know that more middle class families are gender selecting their babies and forcing sex-change on them.’
Investigations on the claims are still on-going. Whether the allegations hold true, we do not know for certain. But we would like to hear what you have to say. Drop us an email if you have personal stories related to this. Otherwise, do tell us what you think.
Here are some articles that you might like:
- India’s forced sex change