Abhishree Aggarwal

Truth is bloodier than fiction

Review of our documentary ‘Meri Shakti Meri Beti’

It amazes me every time. We are living in the 21st century. Women are matching men in every sphere – whiskey for whiskey, three pointer for three pointer, business deal for business deal. And still, in this day and age, with women role models abounding, sex selection is a reality.

Though I’d always known about the problem, subconsciously and at the back of my mind, working with the Centre for Social Research made it very real. The dismal statistics I never paid attention to, the horrifying personal accounts of coworkers and the direct interaction with women at the grassroots all made it very real. What is even more horrifying than the practice itself however, is the number of people who find no fault in it.

Society’s gender bias is so deeply ingrained that the justifications given by people to defend the practice begin to seem almost logical. The movie in this regards beautifully deconstructs these preconceived notions, pointing to the patriarchal mindset that is inherent in such arguments. I particularly appreciated the emphasis on the fact that the practice is not caste or class specific in any way.

One instance in the movie that astounded me was the fact that the practice of sex selection has actually increased over the years. Logically you would expect that with advancements in time and technology, a practice as narrow minded as sex selection would die down. The reality, however, has been quite the reverse – the cheaper and more mobile technology gets, the more this alarming phenomenon has spread.

There was one juncture in the movie, however, in which I disagreed with one speaker’s views. She mentions how repeated abortions tend to weaken a woman’s body and reduce her fertility. Using this as a basis, the presenter argues that rather than giving birth to a male child with defects (borne from the woman’s physical weakness), it is better to have a healthy baby girl. Though I understand the point that the speaker is trying to make, I think it is a very problematic idea to convey to people.

Overall however, the movie, while shocking, also gives hope. CSR’s work on sex selection has shown that education and dissemination of knowledge can lead to long term change in perspectives. It is with this hope that we continue working towards a better and brighter future, one that is free from all forms of violence against women and girls.

Abhishree Aggarwal
Abhishree Aggarwal

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