On 8 March 2011, women across the globe celebrated the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. However, with the phenomena of female feticide and female infanticide, women’s emancipation still has a long way to go.
The life cycle of a child begins with a fertilized egg cell. This almost microscopic particle undergoes prodigious developmental transformations. It becomes in swiftly moving sequence a living palpitating embryo, a foetus, a newborn, an infant, a toddler, a pre-school child, a school child, an adolescent and an adult.
Some political leaders defend the practice of female feticide or sex-selective abortion on the grounds that population should be regulated. Killing certain segments of the population is an immoral way of dealing with the population problem. The essence of human rights is that some means may never be used to protect a society because their use violates the very values that make society worth protecting.
Not every child born in some parts of the world raised. If the infant is a girl, she is killed.
In countries where female infanticide is rampant, more male than female infants survive in the first year of life, a reversal of the usual pattern in countries where infants are equally cared for, regardless of their sex.
Traditional practices are the principal factors that result in the killing of female children. Female infanticide enables families to make sure that the male line continues since family descent is through men. Female infanticide is also fuelled by other factors such as prejudice.
Even when female infants live, their fate is grim. They may not survive to the age of five and if they do, malnutrition, health problems, illiteracy and unemployment may plague their lives.
Female infanticide and gross gender inequality make a mockery of the rights of the girl child. Children are the future of any nation yet some nations are losing their most valuable asset through female feticide and female infanticide.
Since children are unable to articulate and fight for their rights, they need adults to recognise, respect and vindicate their rights.
Working with parents to prevent and combat the practice of female infanticide and gender discrimination is especially important because the family is the fundamental unit of society.
The overarching concern is to:
· Enlighten women on foetal development and the physical risks and psychological damage associated with female feticide. The health complications can include uterine perforation, depression and anxiety disorders.
· Work at the grassroots level to educate parents about gender equality and the dangers of female infanticide.
· Empower girls through increased access to education.
Eradicating female feticide and female infanticide requires not only institutional change at international and national levels but also a change of mindset and attitudes among people.