Newspapers in Indore, Madhya Pradesh-India, are coming out with reports that hundreds of local girls aged 1-5 are subjected to a procedure wherein their female sex organs are fashioned into a penis, their bodies injected with male hormones.
Hindustan Times: Girls are being ‘converted’ into boys in Indore – by the hundreds every year – at ages where they cannot give their consent for this life-changing operation.
Parents pay roughly around $3100 for the genitoplasty process, all to claim a son as their own instead of a girl. AOL News observes that “in India, gender bias has existed for centuries, thanks to cultural traditions, including that the daughter’s family is responsible for paying for an elaborate wedding and an expensive dowry.
As a result, many families will abort daughters before they are born — or resort to the sex changes after the birth. Consequently, there are 7 million more boys under the age of six than girls in India.”
Genitoplasty is used in cases of intersex individuals to match external sex organs with internal organs, yet it stands to reason that the procedure should be undergone with consenting adults who have a firm grasp of their gender identity. Consent for the surgery lies with the parents in India until the child is 14, leaving the state government in Madhya Pradesh to investigate the legality of the issue.
Hindustan Times: “About seven paediatric surgeons from Indore – who are associated with top private and government hospitals – perform these surgeries.
They say these operations are done on children whose internal organs do not match their external genitalia – most commonly, girls born with some internal male organs.
They claim a strict procedure is followed to determine the sex of the newborn, after which the external appearance of the child is changed to match the sex.
There is no system to monitor that claim and is completely open to abuse.”
Intersex advocates would rightfully be outraged by this trend, as most cases of disproportionate gender identity arise from unwanted medical surgeries. Granted, the cultural norms that motivate the parent’s decision are deep-rooted, but the tide seems set for some regulation to be set monitoring the abuse of genitoplasty procedure.
The procedure should remain an option for those seeking a biological identity that matches their own interior selves, but hardly a quick fix within a worldview that values men over women.
AOL News: “Although India’s National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights has ordered the Madhya Pradesh government to investigate the claims and produce its findings within 15 days, Ranjana Kumari, of the Centre for Social Research and one of India’s leading campaigners against female feticide, said the forced sex changes are a sign of her country’s growing “social madness.”
She had hoped that India’s improved educational system for both boys and girls would bring an end to the customs that make boys more desirable than girls. Sadly, she told the Telegraph, that’s not the case.
“The figures are getting worse,” she said. “In 2001, there were 886 girls born to every 1,000 boys in Delhi. Today there are only 866. The more educated and rich you are, the more there is killing of girls,” she 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.”
Who can you point a finger at, though, when a problem is so ingratiated in social-economic-cultural ideology? Until a sea-change occurs in our regard to child-, female-, and intersex- rights, symptomatic issues like this will continue to be a reality.
Of course the biggest irony if the trend continues is these 7 million boys growing up and wondering where all their supposed wives and girlfriends have gone and them now being forced to offer dowries of their own.