The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sex changes for babies

Hindustan Times, 26 June, 2011

We've previous written on India's missing girls, but going a step beyond female foeticide, some families are now paying for their young daughters to undergo gender reassignment surgery. It costs about $3200, but can save the parents money down the road, as they won't have to pay for a dowry (despite dowries having been illegal in India since 1961), pay for "unnecessary" education, or face a limited-to-non-existent earning potential.

What will be encountered down the road, however, is certain infertility and possible impotence. The children (usually between the age of 1 and 5) undergo genitoplasty, or the physical surgery of changing the genitalia from female to male, as well as receive male hormone injections to "create" a boy.  According to Dr. V. P. Goswami, "Genitoplasty is possible on a normal baby of both the sexes but later on these organs will not grow with the hormonal influence and this will lead to their infertility as well as their impotency.  [...] Parents have to consider the social as well as the psychological impact of such procedures on the child."

Besides the confusing, painful, and terrifying affects on the child, there are other concerns.  In India there are currently 7 million more boys than girls in children under the age of six.  Down the road, this can potentially lead to problems for boys finding suitable marriage partners their age.  And some feel that the problem lies in a system of misplaced values.  Ranjana Kumari a leader in the campaign against gender-based abortions said "People don‘t want to share their property or invest in girls’ education or pay dowries. It’s the greedy middle classes running after money. It is just so shocking and an outright violation of children’s rights."

Yes it is.

-Katie Weidmann
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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