By Zahida Farhat
In the modern era some societies may not be familiar with the concept of son preference but in Pakistan preference for male child over female is culturally embedded. Son preference leads to discrimination against girls, which impact different domains of their life. Their educational needs are not fulfilled, so they cannot use their potentials for the betterment of society. In addition, mothers also suffer the consequences of son preference. If not given birth to a male child, they become victims of domestic violence and sometimes they are thrown out of the house or their husbands get remarried.
Since son preference is the most common issue exists in many communities around the world including my own area, Chiral. It not only makes parents more conscious and carrying solely towards their sons, but also let daughters to be ignored and deprived from their basic rights. Society chooses the best for boys in all features including food, education and health; girls always get what is leftover. Through this article, I want to bring parents attention towards daughter that they should not be neglected either.
Son preference is stated as much desire for male child than female. It is an attitude of parents established on the fact that girls are unsatisfactory and less significant compare to boys. It let the community to do practices which are harmful for girls and women, including sex selective abortion and multiple pregnancies to have a son. Besides, girl’s right of education and employment is also overlooked by the society.
Some of the factors that lead to son preference are: parents think that son inherit their family properties and support their parents in old age. Son has good earning capacity whereas girl is economically a burden on parents. She belongs to others after marriage and cannot take care of parents.
Further dowry system is also one of the main issue in Pakistan due to which parents desire not to have daughter. Pakistani parents are more worried about their daughters’ marriage than anything else because it takes them decades to save money for dowry while boys are privileged to get dowry on their wedding.
Son preference can badly impact on girls’ health. They do not receive good care, nourishment and health facilities compare to their brothers, thus results in increased girl’s mortality rate <5 years of age (Sathar et al., 2015). Son preference leads to gender inequality in society. Whereas, we know that these two genders should be equally treated to build a harmonious and peaceful environment.
According to 1973 Constitution and MDGs every human being should be treated equally and not be discriminated based on sex only. This policy should be implemented, and goal should be obtained by giving equal rights to both the genders. This can be achieved through community sessions about importance of girls and women empowerment, and making parents realized that daughter can also do what a son can do. Also, awareness through TV programs from the religious point of view about gender equality by the religious scholars is helpful. In addition, quality education for girls as it increases women socioeconomic status and has seen to be link with decrease son preference.
Thus, it is concluded that son preference is a common practice around the world and leads to daughter discrimination. It results in deprivation of girl’s basic rights like nutrition, health and education. On the other hand, women’s health also deteriorates due to harmful practices of sex selective abortion and multiple pregnancies This issue can be overcome by giving different awareness sessions in community and through social media.
(References: Sathar, Z. A., Rashida, G., Hussain, S., & Hassan, A. (2015). Evidence of Son Preference and Resulting Demographic and Health Outcomes in Pakistan. Islamabad: Population Council).