Kalikot villages celebrate birth of male childLocals of Daha VDC in Kalikot district celebrate whenever a male child is born in a family. Baby girls, however, never get such reception.
Locals of Daha VDC in Kalikot district celebrate whenever a male child is born in a family. Baby girls, however, never get such reception. It is a custom the Daha people have followed for ages, and no one has ever dared question the sex discrimination it blatantly promotes.
Even educated people observe this custom and they are unabashed. It’s our culture, they say.
Dan Singh Sejuwal, a local school teacher, says the tradition cannot be changed just through education and awareness campaign.
“This thing deeply entrenched and they are only perpetuating it by celebrating,” Sejuwal says. “Every family believes sons should perform the funeral rites and take care of the properties.”
Parents preferring boys over girls is not limited within Daha village alone. There are many villages in Kalikot where boys are favoured.
There are many couples in these villages still trying to have sons when they already have several daughters. These couples do not know that husbands determine the baby’s gender. In Kalikot, it is common for a couple to have many children. The 2011 census data showed that 3,159 families in the district have more than nine members while 2,195 families have eight members.
There are also many men in the district who have married again after their previous partners only gave birth to girls.
Sharan Baduwal, secretary of Daha VDC, says the preference for boys over girls in Kalikot can be seen if the district’s population is compared with the neighbouring district of Jumla.
“The population of Kalikot stands at 136,948, whereas the population of Jumla is only 108,921. Similarly, Kalikot has more children (15.8 pc) who are under four than in Jumla (13.7 pc),” Baduwal says.
Mamata BK, chairperson of a local mothers’ group, says women in many villages of Kalikot are under pressure to give birth to male child and, in the process, some women have already given birth to more than 10 children.
“People see this ill-practice as their culture, so it is difficult to change their attitude,” she says. “The only thing saving the lives of mothers and their newborns is the rule that requires all women to give birth in birthing centres with the assistance of professional health workers.”