I am not a social crusader. Have never been one. So why am I writing this blog on a social issue?
The shorter version of the story is that I was stirred into it. The longer version is a series of events against the backdrop of a story of my friendship with a woman whose version of feminism doesn’t (yet) incorporate the f-word. Like many other conversations that begin with an apple and end with a pumpkin, our conversation had ended up with the topic of female feticide in Punjab. That ending became the beginning of this blog.
On a light-hearted note, I had shared with her a news article about the shortage of brides in Punjab, a state-of-affairs attributed to the low female-to-male sex ratio in Punjab. I gave her the numbers. They shocked her. She had read about sex selective feticide in China but was not aware of its prevalence in India, especially in Punjab. She was neither a Sikh nor from India, and this new information contradicted her (positive) impressions of the Sikh community that I had painted for her. She found it hard to digest the fact that female feticide could happen in Punjab where Sikhs were more in numbers as compared with other parts of the world. Weren’t Sikhs supposed to protect others? Did they not have a history of giving up their lives to defend other people’s rights? Then, how could they let female feticide happen in their own families? How could they do it to their own? How could they watch it being done to their own? How could they not stop this practice? More importantly, why wasn’t I – a Sikh male who prided himself on the history of his community and principles of his religion – doing something to stem this crime?
I had no answers to these questions, partly because I had contented myself with the egalitarian state of affairs merely in my immediate family, and partly because I had not given much thought to this issue. In a sense, her questions, though about Sikh men in general, applied specifically to me. They tugged at my conscience and continue to linger on.
The winds of change swept away the relationship and also the sand I had buried my head in. Looking around and brushing away the last bits of sand off me, as a first step, I decided to put up this blog. This blog is for myself as much as it is for others. Through these writing, I hope to develop a deeper understanding of this social evil of kudimaari, and connect with those who are fighting to eradicate it.
My concern about female feticide in the larger world is heightened by my concern of its incidence in my community. I am a Sikh and am proud of my community. I believe in the egalitarian principles on which it has been founded. However, looking at the current affairs in Sikh society reveals some practices that do not conform to espoused values of Sikhism. Unfortunately, gender discrimination, akin to casteism, has crept in over time in the Sikh society too. It is time we did away with the gap in what ought to be and what is.
An engagement with feminist literature as a grad student in the US somewhat helped me with a language to understand the world I do not inhabit. However, more than the theoretical lenses, it is my experiences of everyday encounters with the remarkable women I meet that have been instrumental in instilling a desire to change the world to a better place for all those who inhabit it and for all those who – as in the case of some female fetuses – are being denied an opportunity to inhabit it.
As stated earlier, I am not a social crusader. I am aware that this blog may not even be a ripple in the ocean, nevertheless, it is a big wave for me. That tells something about the size of my world, doesn’t it?