Monday, 17 September 2012

The Beginning of the End?

While there is no place in the world I believe discrimination against women and girls has been completely eliminated, I think I’ll have quite a few supporters when I say that certain countries are running that last lap. I know I haven’t done any in depth research on this yet but I tend to think that the Scandinavians seem to be winning this particular race right now. Nigeria is not the last but let’s just say it currently looks like a lot of countries will need to trip and fall for Nigeria to come anywhere close to winning. Bear with me, there’s a reason for all this stating of the obvious. 

I’m trying to highlight the fact that lots of things that work perfectly well in one part of the world may be a disaster in some other place with very different experiences (take marmite for instance ☺). In a country where mum and dad are generally on the same level; with opinions that equally count both within the family and in society as a whole; it makes perfect sense to encourage sex selection as a way to have that ‘ideal’ 2.2 children family with a boy and a girl. The couple can playfully tease each other with jokes about how the dad wants a boy because he can never understand the super advanced and multi-layered brain of females (just kidding, you guys are just as smart as we are) and how mum wants a daughter so someone can notice she just got a new dress. But at the end of the day you know that it’s all in jest and that if they get to choose the children they will have, it’ll be 50/50 on average. 

Now let’s take that culture cursor over to Africa, specifically Nigeria, and click on that part of the world to see what generally happens when that very same subject comes up. Hmm, looks like things are very different over there. What’s that? You’re saying the cliché is that mothers are continually stomping over to matrimonial homes, threatening to throw out their daughters-in-law for committing the sin of having too many children with XX chromosomes and too few or none with the almighty XY. And it’s not like the grandfathers are more accommodating of the ‘evil witch’ with all the female children and that’s why they aren’t stomping over along with their wives. She’s just the messenger; the secretary that does the leg work as women often are, if she wasn’t doing the stomping herself then he’d have to take on the job himself. And pretty often the father of those girls (who by the way, are probably suffering from low self-esteem of the worst kind at this point. Come to think of it, some may even become those grandmothers who have so little esteem for themselves as women that they end up treating their future daughters-in-law like their mother was treated. Ahh, so that’s how the cycle is reinforced) joins the bandwagon and decides that his lady is not to be had and held after all if she doesn’t have a brood of rowdy boys. That’s the bit the vows forgot to add. In addition to all of that, the Nigerians also have countless unimaginative movies that deal with this very same subject. All tell the same story in the exact same way. Helpless mother of girls cries like it’s a sport, prays to God to give her the boy that will vindicate her, she gets her super-boy and all is well. Not once have I seen an ending where she never has a boy but the detractors see the error of their ways when those girls become productive members of society rather than dependent idiots. God forbid, she must have a boy otherwise how on earth will it be a happy ending. 

Maybe you see what I’m getting at by now. I know, I tend to go through a lot of yada yada before I get to my main point. So here it is, does it make any sense at all to introduce any method of sex selection in a country were stories like this are the norm? Actually, it does make perfect economic sense for the conscience-free trader to introduce sex selection methods in a country that tends to think that boys are the children worth having so will give their eye-teeth to get as many of those babies as possible. So let me rephrase, does it make any sense for government to let such businesses thrive in a country where it is obvious that we still have lots of issues to get through and will soon have a ratio of boys to girls at 9:1 (I seriously do not think I am exaggerating) if everyone could choose the sex of their children? Okay, maybe you are uber-libertarian and do not think the government should be butting into your business. At the very least, surely you’d think that there’s no way a sensible government would be advertising and promoting the use of sex selection. I thought so too until I went to camp for the mandatory government funded NYSC program for young graduates and had a guy shove books about how to select the sex of the children I’m definitely supposed to have someday in my face and that of everyone else in camp. I don’t know if his organization sends a representative to every NYSC camp but I’m pretty sure he had permission to come and talk to us since his presentation was included in the lectures we were all supposed to attend as part of the program. So, yeah, in my book that equals being promoted by the government. So apparently our government is not so sensible, brand new information…NOT. 

In addition to government sponsorship, there are fliers for Predicting sex selection kits on pretty much every bus in Abuja currently. Which leads me to ask again, since the government is a product of society and therefore isn’t particularly leading the cheer for women, why aren’t any groups who should be leading the cheer for women reacting to all of this stuff about sex selection and raising an uproar about the ‘beginning of the end of Nigerian women’ (That too is not really an exaggeration and even if it is, things like this need slogans that pack a punch to get our attention). Because I definitely haven’t seen any of that, all I’ve seen are countless articles in newspapers like this and this that suggest that sex selection is a God sent miracle. Of course, the writers go all ostrich-style on us and start out their articles talking about couples who have all boys and want a girl but we all know that’s not why this new idea is becoming more and more popular. The expert says it himself. 

So here’s a developing trend that shows yet again that developing countries are getting all the latest technologies without always getting modern ways of thinking that need to go along with them. I’ve just been thinking that if the government makes any more moves to support this without addressing the obvious fact that females will be grossly discriminated against and trying to prevent that, then I’m going to need to add this to the list of stuff I need to start something like a petition on and maybe this time I’ll actually do it. But till then I’ve just been wondering what other people think about this whole sex selection deal.

By Laura McKeever

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