In our obsession with dead-end politics, a news item last week on the shocking surge in female foeticide in Nepal went barely noticed. The report delved into how the legalisation of abortion five years ago has led to the proliferation of ultrasound clinics across the country allowing parents to terminate pregnancies if they are girls. Activists estimate that 50,000 unborn females are aborted in Nepal every year.
The slaughter of daughters is the result of deeply-rooted patriarchal values, a preference for boys in many Nepali cultures, a belief tha t sons are needed to perpetuate the family lineage, the need to pay dowry to marry daughters, and the reluctance to allow daughters to inherit property. This is largely an urban middle-class phenomenon across South Asia, and is so entrenched that despite the spread of education and gender awareness, old habits die hard.
However, increasing numbers of Nepali women are breaking stereotypes and getting their PhD degrees, serving in the army and police force, climbing Mt Everest, running ministries, while juggling their domestic responsibilities side by side. These women show that if given a chance, they can take care of their families, earn a living, and be as independent as their male counterparts.
Slaughter of our unborn daughters