Let us explore the Science behind gender determination.
Our Indian culture is driven by patriarchy, where the male is considered to be superior. We live in a society that believes in many superstitions and myths. One of the myths that many believe, is that a mother is responsible for the gender of her child. Also, female infanticide and girl child killing still exist in certain regions of India.
The Global Sex Ratio in the year 2018 is 101 males to 100 females. In India, there are 930 female births per 1000 male births. India has 49,314,062 more males population than females. An Indian NGO who works for children's rights, named 'Child Rights and You (CRY)', has estimated that out of the 12 million females born every year in India, 1 million die within their first year of life.
The women are blamed if she gives birth to a daughter. This situation is due to the lack of knowledge about sex determination. Therefore, it is important to spread awareness of sex determination, as it would eradicate the myth that the female is responsible for the gender of her child and will uplift the status of a female in society.
The mother’s egg fuses with the father's sperm to form a zygote that eventually forms a baby. This egg and sperm contain a set of 22 chromosomes with one set of sex chromosomes. Therefore, these chromosomes are haploid when they fuse (mother's and father’s chromosome) they give rise to a diploid offspring (having a double number of chromosomes i.e., 44 chromosomes and a pair of sex chromosome). Chromosomes are genetic materials, which give us typical characters that we inherit from our parents.
Thus, sex chromosomes are responsible for the sex determination of a child. Females have XX type and males have XY type of chromosomes. Therefore, when eggs are formed in a female, each egg is identical having one X-sex chromosome. However, male sperms are not identical as some sperms may have X-sex chromosome or Y-sex chromosome. So, it's a matter of chance that which sperm (one containing X or Y sex chromosome) fuses with the egg.
When the sperm with X chromosome fuses with the egg, the child will have XX type of sex chromosomes, which will be a girl child. Similarly, if the sperm with a Y chromosome fuses with the egg, the child will have an XY type of sex chromosomes, which will be a boy child.
This clearly indicates that the father of the child is responsible for its gender and not the mother. Thus, this awareness should be spread by the doctors and Gynaecologists and also through medical camps, social media, etc. This should bring down the rate of female infanticides and suppression of women.
Infanticide has been criminalised in India. It remains an unreported crime due to the lack of reliable data. In 2010, the National Crime Records Bureau reported an approximate of 100 male and female infanticides, making it an official rate of less than one case of infanticide per million people.
Nonetheless, it is a criminal offence to know the gender of a child before birth in India. This is a measure taken by the government to reduce female infanticide and girl child killing. Therefore, awareness and knowledge is the way forward to empower girls and women in India. Thus, the Indian government has started a scheme of “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” which translates to “Save girl child, Educate girl child”
Indian research work carried out by the author Ms Pallavi Mahajan was based on ‘Comprehensive Sexuality Education - The Indian Perspective’. This work was published in the year 2017 in the journal Social Science Research Network (SSRN). CSE (Comprehensive Sexuality Education) is necessary as it can help young people think on social standards, cultural values and traditional beliefs. This will give a better understanding for managing relationships with parents, teachers, other adults and their communities.
Editor: Anomitra Dey
3. Gellatly et al. Trends in Population Sex Ratios May be Explained by Changes in the Frequencies of Polymorphic Alleles of a Sex Ratio Gene. Evolutionary Biology, Dec 11, 2008; DOI: 10.1007/s11692-008-9046-3
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