It’s not all about religion or culture but also about personal opinion.
I remember the days we had our children, much like most mothers. It was filled with mixed emotions. It seemed that motherhood and parenting were about to alter your inner soul without warning or forgiveness and that now you were no longer the name you were given. Your birth name is no longer your identity but instead you are ‘Mum’ ‘mummy’ ‘Ma’ or ‘so and so’s Mum’. Or in my case ‘carer’. Culturally, I was labelled as ‘the poor mum with a disabled son’ or ‘the poor mum who went onto have daughters’. ‘The mum who should’ve waited before conceiving another daughter’.
I recall a woman (an aunt) tutting loudly at seeing Priya ( my second daughter). Her instant reaction was to shake her head and gesture in an upward direction, as if speaking to God, for forgiveness on my behalf that I was not blessed with a ‘son to hide the wrongs of Arjun’ and that ‘ I must have committed some heinous crime in my last life that now I was being punished with another daughter’, she finished with the ‘your Kismet is not good’. I recall the anger and fear I felt, the way in which I was made to feel a sense of shame and personal guilt that ‘I had not born a ‘proper’ son’.
It went further, when one ‘aunt’ informed me that I should not try for another child ‘in case it’s another girl’ or that I should only copulate on a full moon or take a special ayuvedic medication that would guarantee a boy. So hurtful. So medieval. So judgemental.
This is not about religion, it’s about culture, the perception that a girl cannot provide the same security as a son, that a girl cannot be on the same pedestal as a son, and more so that a girl will move on through marriage and will not be able to carry the family name forward. There are still places in India (and the world) where to bare a girl is a sin.
In Sikhism, daughters are a gift, they are recognised as equal to sons :
This was exacerbated by my husband being the eldest of three boys. His dad was an only son and passed many years ago and it was his ‘duty’ to bear a son. Luckily, he is amazing and doesn’t believe in all this stuff, he only wanted to have children, children who he would love unconditionally.
Thankfully, this perception of daughters is slowly changing, more and more couples are stopping at two children, no matter what gender they are, girls are being actively encouraged to be educated and successful in their own right, but Im not going to fluff over the fact that many still believe that girls are not a blessing but a burden, and that they carry the family Izaat (honour) resulting in heartache.
My daughters are blessing, they only just survived as is Arjun my only son.
Girls are often still abandoned on the streets or left in the care of organisations such as Unique Home for Girls in Julandhar, India which is run on the charitable donations, largely from the UK. Their aim is simple: to give abandoned girls back their lives through education and most importantly love.