Thomas Benjamin contributes thoughtfully:
>I have not studied the causes of the above mentioned
>practice, but am aware of the female infanticide in our rural areas. My
>own involvement in this prevailing practice has helped me understand the
>role of values and culture. What is important here is to understand why
>that practice prevails. What are the various factors that force people to
>adopt the practice. Are there exceptions to the practice in the same
>community. For instance, increasing the literacy levels, particularly
>amoung women, greater economic status, increasing the disposable income of
>the families and changing the assumptions in the community about the role
>of women in that community(happens when job opportunities for women is
>created) has decreased the incidence of female infanticide. In community
>development, we get to understand the basic assumptions that drive people
>to adopt some of these practices. One may argue, what if they kill those
>children, its their value and it appears to be right for them. The
>practice is accepted in their community. However, we do know that all in
>the same community do not practice female infanticide, within the
>community or outside of it, when their social and economic status changes.
>On the other hand there is another community who practice female
>infanticide due to the evils of Dowry. In all these cases, normally it is
>the second or subsequent female child that meets its fate. In the latter,
>the actions are due to a social evil(dowry), rather than poverty. I do
>not think that values differ. The way in which people act differ. The
>differences we percieve are due to social, economic, environmental and
>cultural factors that influence those practices.
>I have seen female infants left dead
>in a hospital. The mother and relatives absconding. Today, Community
>development practitioners try to change the conditions. Many of these so
>called unpalatable practices stop on their own when conditions change.
>The practices that the community development workers are adopting comes
>close to the consepts in the Chapter on Systems thinking in the Field
>The practice of drenching the child with river water must have started
>under specific conditions. I am sure changes in those countries have
>created conditions that have dispelled the need for such a practice. For
>instance, most infant and child deaths are due to diarrhoea in tropical
>and developing countries. Simple home made oral rehydration solution can
>prevent a childs death due to diarrhoea. A new technology made available
>to that community can change the premise under which they had started that
In this discussion regarding the proposed universality of certain values
the practice in some underdeveloped countries of dipping infants in
contaminated water to separate the weaker from the stronger - one might
say a Darwinian intervention - was raised to compare/contrast cultural
bias with the concept of universally-held values.
In some parts of Africa, ritual scarification has been going on for
millennia, and when I was growing up, this practice was described to me to
prove how "barbaric" those peoples are. These practices are gradually
becoming understood to be "primitive" methods for arousing the immune
system to various life hazards.
How and why people love their children is far beyond my knowledge, but it
seems pretty straightforward to me that without the backing of a belief in
science it would seem pretty strange to deliberately inject children with
poison and filth, the Western practice which has all but eliminated
smallpox, polio, and a host of other diseases.
Jack Hirschfeld How many years must some people exist email@example.com before they're allowed to be free?
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