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2014联考英语阅读:英国的女婴文化偏见

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2014年08月06日 【我要咨询】 】 来源:清华在线

  In many ethnic minority communities, the pressure to give birth to sons rather than daughters can be overwhelming – and sometimes heartbreaking. Cahal Milmo talks to Britons with experience of the cultural bias against female babies.

  Rupi remembers her second pregnancy with tearful dread. Having given birth to a girl two years before, she had expected the further love and support of her husband and his family. Instead, she came under extraordinary pressure to have an abortion.

  The 29-year-old British Indian, who has asked The Independent not to reveal her real name, found out during a private scan that the child she was expecting was a girl. It was at this point that congratulations turned to consternation.

  She told The Independent: "It was a completely traumatic time. I had this child growing inside, a beautiful thing. But my family weren't happy, they wanted me to have a son. My husband's family were not wealthy and a son is so cherished.

  "I'll never forget. My mother-in-law sat me down one evening and said I should think about making the pregnancy go away. It was clear what she meant. When I told my husband what she had said, he said it was something we could consider. I was shocked. I felt as if my baby had become dirty, shameful."

  After seeking the help of a community group near her home in Slough, Rupi, who comes from a Sikh family, persuaded her family that she should keep her daughter, now a bouncing three-year-old girl. But she has no plans for further children.

  Other outcomes are not so happy.

  In communities of different faiths and ethnicities across Britain, there is evidence that women are seeking abortions both in the United Kingdom and abroad on the sole basis that their unborn child is a girl.

  The Independent has been told of at least 12 cases in the Midlands where women have travelled to India to terminate a female foetus. Whether voluntarily or as a result of pressure from spouses and relatives, mothers-to-be are shaping - or being compelled to shape - their families to service the notion that a son is culturally, economically and socially more desirable than a daughter, according campaigners and clinicians within these communities.

  From Chinese to Pakistani couples, Muslim to Hindu to Sikh, the practice is deeply rooted, springing from reasons such as the desire for a male to continue the family name, or the wish to avoid the swingeing financial burden of paying a dowry of up to ?25,000 per daughter. More ethereal prejudices include the belief that if a son - and not a daughter - administers the last rites to a father, then the patriarch's soul is speeded to heaven.

  Community workers told The Independent that there may be dozens of female foetuses a year in Britain which are being terminated because of "son preference".

  Jasvinder Sanghera, a leading campaigner on forced marriages and honour violence against women, who founded the charity Karma Nirvana, said: "I think almost any Asian woman you talk to would say she feels a pressure to have a male child. There will be many, many Asian women out there who are pregnant and who are thinking, 'please, please let it be a boy'.

  "If you have a daughter, these women will tell us, they feel they have let their husband or in-laws down. In those circumstances, women are seeking abortions if they can find out that the child is a girl."

  Asked what proportion of families would have a preference for a son, she added: "Without a shadow of doubt, more than 50 percent."

  An investigation by the Daily Telegraph last year exposed two doctors who were apparently willing to authorise abortions based on gender, though the Crown Prosecution Service decided to press charges.

  Seema, 36, an Afghan based in London who works with women's groups, said: "It goes on. Often it is a woman who is brought from Afghanistan and the tribal areas where these beliefs are very strong. It is not frequent but we hear of doctors who will sign off on the papers."

  Dr Sudhir Sethi, a NHS consultant paediatrician who specialises in child health in Leicester, told The Independent he knew of 12 families in the city where mothers had travelled to India to terminate a female foetus.He said: "There are no reliable and absolute figures to say how many [are travelling abroad for terminations] but we can say that they are more than just a few, to say the very least.

  Illustrating the problem, the doctor cited the words of a woman from Britain's Punjabi community, the region of northern India where selective abortion is most prevalent: "They go on holiday with a belly and a baby inside, and they return with no baby and no belly."

  The terminations are also taking place within Britain, according to community workers.

  While many NHS hospitals have a policy of refusing to divulge the gender of a foetus until after the 24-week abortion limit, private scans are available.

  And yet the cultural underpinning to the desire for a son runs deeply across some of Britain's ethnic minorities and indeed extends among white Britons, where so-called "family balancing" is increasingly cited as a reason for the use of emerging technologies such as sperm washing to select the gender of a child.

  As one worker for a helpline for Chinese women put it: "Why shouldn't a woman be allowed to decide whether the child she carries is a girl or a boy? There is a right for the woman to control her body."

  The desire to avoid the payment of dowry, the practice of a bride's family providing either physical goods or cash for the "transfer" of a daughter, is cited as a particular reason why a daughter is considered a liability.

  Mrs Sanghera said: "These attitudes are completely alive and kicking in our communities. And yet nobody is speaking out about them. We should be in no doubt at all, this preference for sons and pressuring a woman to achieve that end is part of the same set of problems as honour abuse and forced marriage. "

  The charity said it was also aware of cases where women who have given birth to multiple daughters are simply divorced and a new wife sought who can provide a son.

  Judy Barber, a senior call handler for the charity, said: "Many callers report that in their families and communities the birth of a boy is much more welcome than that of a girl. Two callers said that when a girl is born it is 'like a funeral'."

  There is evidence that similar attitudes have been continued among second and third generation offspring of migrants. A BBC survey found that two thirds of young British Asians believe that families should live according to the concept of "honour", with nearly one in five saying physical punishment of a woman for certain behaviour was justifiable.

  Mrs Sanghera said: "The links back to South Asia are very strong and we see very often that these attitudes are transferred from one generation to the next. This is not a prejudice that can be quickly dismantled."

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  在英国很多少数民族地区,生儿而非生女的压力可谓势不可挡,有时也会让人心痛不已。在此,卡赫尔·米尔莫向英国人讲述她所经历的女婴文化偏见。

  据英国《独立报》网站报道,卢比(Rupi)至今还记得二度怀孕时的痛苦。自两年前诞下一女,她曾期待丈夫和家人更为深厚的关爱,然而,她却处在前所未有的堕胎压力之下。

  这位要求《独立报》不要透露其真实姓名的29岁印度裔英国人,在一个私人胎检扫描中发现自己的腹中胎儿正是一个女孩儿。也正是从这一刻起,所有的祝福都变成了惊愕。

  她告诉《独立报》:“这真是一个痛苦的时刻,腹中正在成长的孩子是如此美丽,但是家人却并不为此感到欣喜,他们想让我生一个男孩。我丈夫的家庭并不富有,因此他们迫切希望能得到一个男孩儿。”

  “我永远也不会忘记——某天晚上,婆婆坐在我身旁并告诉我应当考虑着终止这次妊娠。我非常清楚她的意图何在,当我将这一切告诉丈夫时,他却表示我们可以考虑一下这个问题。当时的我十分震惊,腹中的孩子也仿佛变得如此肮脏,羞耻。”

  在寻求了附近一个社区团体的帮助之后,来自锡克教家庭的卢比终于说服了家人保留住腹中的女儿,而现在,她已成长为一个活蹦乱跳的3岁小女孩儿了。但卢比却没有生孩子的进一步打算。

  其他的结果却并没有如此欣慰。

  有证据显示,在英国境内不同信仰和不同种族的聚居区中,一旦经检测腹中胎儿是女孩的话,孕妇们便会在英国或是海外其他国家接受堕胎的命运。

  据《独立报》了解,在中部地区至少有12例孕妇前往印度终止女胎的例证。根据社区内社会活动家和临床医生所了解的情况,不论是自愿还是来自配偶或亲属的压力,准妈妈们都会在家庭的影响下自发或被迫形成这样一种观念——在文化,经济和社会层面上,生男比生女更可为取。

  从中国到巴基斯坦夫妻,从穆斯林到印度教再至锡克教,生男的观念是如此根深蒂固,其原因在于男孩儿能继承家族姓氏抑或希望推脱掉女儿价值2万5千英镑嫁妆的财政负担。更多虚无缥缈的偏见还包括男孩将能主持父亲最后的死亡仪式,并能让先祖的灵魂加速进入天堂。

  社区工作者向《独立报》表示,在英国,一年之内便有很多女胎因“重男轻女”观念而终止了生命。

  包办婚姻以及妇女家暴主要斗争者,慈善机构Karma Nirvana创始人贾希文德·桑赫拉(Jasvinder Sanghera)表示:“我认为几乎所有的亚洲女性都会表示自己承担着生育男孩的压力。目前也会有很多很多怀孕的亚洲女性正在日思夜想着:“求求老天赐予我一个男孩儿吧。””

  “如果你孕有一个女孩儿的话,这些妇女就会告诉我们,她们似乎让丈夫和公婆特别失望,在这种情况下,一旦孕妇们发现自己的胎儿是女孩的话,她们就会选择堕胎的方式终止妊娠。”

  在被问及有多少比例的家庭会更想要男孩时,她补充道:“毫无疑问,至少也会有50%。”

  在去年《每日电讯报》(Daily Telegraph)进行的一项调查中,他们揭露出两名基于性别选择而批准堕胎的医生,皇家检控署曾决定对二人支持堕胎的行为起诉。

  目前在当地妇女组织工作的36岁阿富汗籍妇女Seema表示:“堕胎还会继续进行的,通常情况下,这些妇女都是来自阿富汗或是重男轻女观念十分强大的部落地区。这种现象并不特别频繁,但是我们也曾听说医生们最终会在堕胎文件上签字。”

  莱斯特(Leicester)儿童保健顾问塞提医生(Dr Sudhir Sethi)向《独立报》表示:据他了解,仅在莱斯特便有12名孕妇前往印度终止胎儿妊娠。他说道:“目前并没有绝对可靠的数据来表明有多少孕妇选择出国堕胎,但是我们可以这样认定,出国堕胎的孕妇不在少数。”

  在表明当下的问题之后,医生引用了英国旁遮普(Punjabi)社区,也是印度北部地区堕胎最为普遍的地区一名妇女的言论:“她们挺着大肚子怀着孩子便出国度假了,回来时肚皮却空空如也。”

  根据社区工作者的说法,终止妊娠的案例同样也在英国境内上演着。

  虽然很多医院在24周的堕胎限制下拒绝透露胎儿的性别,但是私人医院的胎儿扫描却依然处于工作之中。

  基于文化影响下对儿子的渴望,英国一些少数民族依然保持着浓厚的重男思想,在这些地区,所谓的“家庭平衡”越来越多地成为生男的理由,包括精子洗脱在内日益兴起的新技术也帮助人们选择孩子的性别。

  正如中国妇女帮助热线的一名员工说道:“为什么不能允许女性自己决定腹中男孩女孩的命运?女人拥有权力来控制自己的身体。"

  为了避免支付嫁妆费用,新娘家庭提供实物或现金来“嫁女”的做法被认为是承担养女责任的特殊原因。

  桑赫拉女士表示:“这些态度正在潜滋暗长并在社会中逐渐蔓延,然而却无人对之提出异议。毋庸置疑,这种重男轻女的观念以及它所施加给妇女的压力与支持家暴,包办婚姻都是同样层面的问题。”

  慈善机构表示他们也关注到育有几个女孩的家庭更容易遭遇离婚,而丈夫们寻求新任妻子只为求得一子。

  慈善机构高级接线员朱迪·巴伯(Judy Barber)表示:“很多访问者都表示生男比生女更能在家庭和社区受到欢迎。两名访问者均表示女孩儿出生时就像是葬礼一样沉重。”

  有证据表示在第二代、第三代的移民者中,重男轻女的态度一如既往地持续着。BBC的一项调查表明三分之二的亚裔英国年轻人均认为家庭应当为“荣誉”而生存,而有将近五分之一的人表示因某些行为而体罚女性是正当的。

  桑赫拉女士说道:“南亚的重男观念非常根深蒂固,我们常常会发现这些态度会代代相传下去,因此,重男轻女的偏见并不会在社会中快速瓦解。”

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