Man With No Sons Depressed, Friends Say
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The violent death of two-year-old Rajvinder Kahlon has prompted a wave of soul-searching within the Lower Mainland’s large South Asian community, where sons continue, in large measure, to be valued over daughters.
“Unfortunately, it takes a tragedy sometimes to act as a rude awakening,” Indira Prahst, a sociology instructor at Langara College, said yesterday, after a weekend of intense community reaction to reports that Rajvinder’s father, now charged with her murder, had been depressed at having three daughters and no sons.
The reports came from those close to the family, including a friend who had lived in the basement of the Kahlon home for four years.
The issue of ongoing patriarchy among South Asian families lit up the phone lines on Punjabi-language radio call-in shows, with many expressing their shame and embarrassment over the little girl’s death.
“People are very upset. It’s a shock to the whole community that this has happened, and patriarchy is the major issue that they are talking about,” Radio India host Harpreet Singh said. “It’s a big, big problem.”
No one spoke out more forcefully than former premier and Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh, who had just returned from a month-long trip to India, where he had strongly denounced the widespread practice in Punjab of aborting female fetuses.
For centuries in India, the birth of boys has been celebrated, but not the birth of girls, and that tradition continues to be strong in local South Asian culture, Mr. Dosanjh said.
“The fact is that ordinary people, in their own hearts, are embarrassed by this,” he said, referring to the death of Rajvinder last Friday. “I’m angry, actually. I’m at my wits end. It comes to a point where you say: What will it take to change?”
Mr. Dosanjh said local South Asians continue to visit clinics in Blaine, Wash., that will determine a fetus’s gender early enough in a pregnancy to permit an abortion. It is accepted that if the fetus is female, an abortion will likely follow.
“I understand those places are still doing a good business,” said Mr. Dosanjh, despite the fact that South Asian newspapers in B.C. no longer carry their ads. Doctors in the province are not permitted to advise couples of the fetus’s gender until the 24th week.
“I find it reprehensible . . . You commit feticide, you commit infanticide, you abuse and kill after marriage. It doesn’t stop.”
He said the valuing of boys over girls is unlikely to be eradicated within the South Asian community without widespread condemnation that such practices are “absolutely unacceptable.”
“Individually,” he said, “there is not much we can do. There has to be collective social action and shaming.”
Mr. Dosanjh acknowledged that patriarchy exists in other cultures, “but that doesn’t justify it among South Asians. Justice ought not to be relative. This is about fairness and dignity toward women.”
Ms. Prahst said girls are still seen as a liability in many South Asian families because: of the desire to retain the family name; the “enormous economic investment in the son,” who is then to care for his aging parents; and the ongoing tradition of brides having to provide lucrative dowries to their husbands.
“We can longer be silent about this issue. It’s time for us all to speak out against gender inequality,” she declared.
Rajvinder’s father, Lakhvinder Kahlon, appeared in Surrey Provincial Court yesterday afternoon, charged with the first-degree murder of his youngest daughter.
Mr. Kahlon, with short, frizzy hair and a trim grey beard, appeared stunned when brought into court for his brief first appearance. He stood with arms folded across his chest, then sat down and stared ahead, showing no emotion.
Judge William MacDonald ordered a 30-day psychiatric assessment to determine whether the accused is fit to stand trial. He also imposed a publication ban on all evidence presented in court.
Defence lawyer Kris Pechet said his 47-year-old client is “very distraught.”
Rajvinder was killed at home while her mother, Manit Kaur Kahlon, walked the couple’s two older daughters to school.
An uncle of the dead girl, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Jimmi, described her as “vibrant and very precious. One can only imagine what her mother is going through.”
(Posted on January 23, 2008)
It’s a shame that western feminists almost never speak out against the violence that third-world and/or minority men commit against women and children. Phyllis Chesler said it all very well - that western feminism has gone so left-wing that it is no longer in the position of defending gender equality, as it is now in the thrall of condescending to multiculturalism.
Posted by Matt at 7:13 PM on January 23
Watch for the gender ratio in Asia to become even more imbalanced when sex selection technology becomes widespread. A male heir can be almost guaranteed with current surrogacy techniques.
I would prefer sons as well but Mr. Kahlon’s reaction is insane.
Posted by Economist at 9:17 PM on January 23
Note the deceptive and downplayed headline when the story relates to a minority immigrant charged with a heinous crime in political-correct Canada.
Instead of how “depressed” he was, how about something along the lines of “Father Kills His Baby Daughter”.
There’s no pre-conditioned sympathy for this murdering thug with that simple headline.
If you weren’t convinced by the disingenuous headline, the writers then attempt to ameliorate the murderous circumstances by filling the body of the story with justifying rationale.
It’s was the needless death of a defenseless two-year old baby girl…. thanks to Canada’s official multiculturalism that give foreigners the right to import and practice cultures beyond our own.
Posted by at 9:22 PM on January 23
Normally I’m against government entrapment but, in this case, I think that any immigrant parents-to-be who inquire as to their fetus’ gender (while it’s still possible to have an abortion) should be sent directly back to whatever country they came from. If they can’t shed their barbarism upon entry into a modern, Western country, then clearly they have no business living there. Repatriate the entire family. After this happens a few times, maybe they’ll get the message.
Posted by jewamongyou at 12:56 AM on January 24
The desire to have only sons is not just a south asian thing, by the way. Most east asian cultures value sons also (China, most notably) and daughters are at best tolerated. Although this is changing somewhat as many asian countries become more prosperous, it doesn’t take away from the fact that most asian couples strongly desire to have sons. And in a few years my Chinese nephew (I’m married to a Chinese woman) will inherit the family business while my two nieces will inherit very little if nothing. When they get married it is not the responsibility of the parents to support then further in any kind of way.
Posted by Expat Onlooker at 8:21 AM on January 24
Hold on. These people are coming into the U.S. for abortions? Using our roads, our businesses, our doctors? I am against abortion, and I am VERY against people coming into our country, even for just the day, to have this procedure. And then, if an abortion goes bad, do they end up in a Canadian ER, since they can’t make it back over the border in time for treatment? Or do the wives simply disappear? Why do they think women are expendable? What kind of mind thinks that?
Posted by at 9:57 AM on January 24
After years of infertility we had a baby girl in September. While my husband does want a son at some time we are so thrilled at just having a baby that it does not matter.
Posted by Spartan24 at 3:56 PM on January 24
I am a white, middle-aged female, born of white parents who were not impoverished, raised in midwest, and I couldn’t have had a more American background.
Sadly, my parents were exactly like this. For years I thought that it was normal.
Posted by kitty at 4:21 PM on January 24
Having a healthy baby is the best blessing God can bestow on any couple. Children are a gift and an expression of the love a couple have for one another, it really doesn’t matter what gender the child is, I mean think of all those poor infertile couples.
Posted by dom21 at 7:24 PM on January 24
Canadian immigration system should be more stringent. Don’t let uneducated people enter this community. I am an east asian too, but these illterate people bring their sick mentality with them and don’t want to change at all. I feel sorry for this 2 year old girl. Nobody has a right to kill a child. I would appeal to the women of east asian community that it is 21st century. If need be, become a mother first and then a wife. In this case, if Rajvinder’s mom was noticing severe depressive changes in her husband, she should have talked with somebody. This is a lesson to the whole community, stand against your husband if need be. It is never end of the road if you need to leave your husband. Live with dignity. You don’t die with your husband, so don’t be afraid of leaving him or getting appropriate treatment for him if needed. May god give peace to the little angel.
Posted by anonymous at 5:50 PM on January 25
If they were allowed to adopt white, blue eyed, blonds, they would sure value them wouldn’t they?
Posted by the Soviet Republic of New Jersey State at 6:01 PM on January 25
Well, they are in Canada, and coming to the US for the abortion?
If they were in their native land, they’d just leave the kid exposed to the elements, or raise it to be old enough to sell to a pimp. There are so many asians, life is cheap and means little.
That being said, I’d prefer these people, all of them, remain in their countries and not come here. They want our benefits, but refuse to adopt our cultural norms and values. By the way, whatever benefits they obtain, or jobs, etc are benefits and jobs taken from Canadians and Americans.
Posted by Bill at 8:19 PM on January 26
Any male-oriented home or society prefers males over females, not just “South Asians” as this site suggests.
Posted by AtheistNonracistWhiteAmerican at 11:10 AM on January 28
“Any male-oriented home or society prefers males over females, not just “South Asians” as this site suggests.”
Posted by AtheistNonracistWhiteAmerican at 11:10 AM on January 28
What do you mean, by prefer?
Posted by EA (European American) Steve at 5:44 AM on February 1