Joined: 03 December 2006
Joined: 09 December 2008
I would like to underline the plight of unwed Indian mothers and would show that why I would rather be born to a lesbian American mother as compared to unwed Indian mother. The argument here not only emphasizes the choice in the topic, but highlights a bigger issue that is the plight of unwed mothers in India – the need to do something and the need to eliminate a big social hypocrisy. To understand the problems lets compare the life of both the mothers in a chronological order:
Comparison of the causes is important because it sets up the context that would explain the mental condition of kid's mother in future and thus would affect kid's upbringing. It is an indicator of parental/kid's upbringing planning or lack of it.
Unwed Indian mother – Talk about parental planning? On the contrary, many causes of unwed mothers in India are rather a result of an "accident" such as teenage pregnancy, getting tricked by males, rape or exploitation. Its surprising and loathsome to know that sexual exploitation by govt. officials and police itself is a significant cause in increasing the number of unwed mothers . Also see the recent ACP Rathore rape case in India – so much for them being the protector or a civil "servant" of the people! Talk about law and order!
Cuckoocutter paints a bollywood heroine kind of picture of the unwed mother. Says that she would have wanted the kid so much that she did so many sacrifices. However, this is doubtful in this context when we consider that extra marital sex is a taboo and sex education is very low in India. Either pregnancy is discovered very late (past the stage of abortion) or is kept hidden from the parents/relatives because the traumatized, and possibly young woman, stays in a state of denial and confusion. The chances are more for a case of low sex education and shortsightedness than motherly sacrifice. The case pointed out by Cuckoocutter may happen more in a bollywood flick than in reality. However, if it happens then there is my point about obsession.
1.1 Obsession - let me extend this point for Cuckoocutter. Dictionary defines "Obsession: the domination of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc." He said that unwed mother will have her kid as her sole purpose in her life and he made it sound like an emotion dominating mother's thoughts and feelings. It should be noted that obsession or domination of an emotion can cloud one's mind and dominate the rational thought.
All biological mothers love their kids (normal, lesbian or unwed). Cuckkoocutter can not discard the sacrifice made by other mothers here. Lesbian mother will also keep the baby in her womb for 9 months, will do all the needed sacrifices. Every kid needs love and love is the reason why a mother will look after the kid and provide all support. However, after the "why" comes the practical question of what to do about kid's upbringing? -- Here, rational thinking is needed in balance with motherly love. Unbalance due to rational thinking blinded by love can create problems and shortsightedness at least in two ways 1) About "sacrifice", will she sacrifice righteousness, will she overlook kid's mistakes and never correct him, just because of love? 2) Blind love can take her to slightly opposite direction as well, out of love she may keep the kid too close and control too much -- we already see this in some cases of Munna's, Babua's or Mama's boys in India who never learn to take a decision on their own.
The point is that it should not become an obsession which in turn can cloud rational thinking and affect the upbringing of the kid. Love as well as rational thinking is required for the better. Combine obsession with the high chances of unplanned pregnancy and of her being cheated already once – it indicates that the unwed mother may be heavily putting emotions over rational thinking that in turn will not be good for kid's unplanned upbringing in general.
1.2 High chances of planned pregnancy in case of Lesbian couple -- On the other hand, it is a given in the topic that baby was born to a lesbian couple and they are a long time committed couple. The possibilities are numerous as in the other case, however with the given context, there is a high chance that the baby was born through artificial insemination. This very context also points to a deliberate and proper planning in contrast to the possibility of a unplanned rushed pregnancy due to an "accident", in the case of unwed mother. There is a good chance that long time committed lesbian couple have planned ahead for the pregnancy and for the upbringing of the kid – that points to foresightedness and a better future for the kid.
Lets not even go into the medical problems associated with teenage pregnancies in case of the unwed Indian mother. The fact is that only 47% births are attended by skilled staff in India  that could impact the health of kid as well.
However, more importantly, there is a high chance that the kid would be abandoned as is the case for many unwed mothers in India. See the case of just one hospital . It is nowhere given in the topic that the kid is still with his mother thus there is a high chance that the kid was abandoned in the clinic itself and given to a child care home. This happens because kid's mother decides to not carry the burden of social taboo or because her parents forced her to abandon the kid. If we go by Indian society where girls are forced to marry against their wishes, it is very likely that the unwed mom will be forced to abandon the kid by her parents, in the clinic itself, for family's "honor" and to escape the taboo. Parents, especially the father, rule their daughters with iron hands. They can do anything just in the name of honor - see recent news regarding honor killings in India.
If the kid is abandoned then there is a movie on the plight of abandoned kid: Raam Jaane. On the other hand, this is not the case for the kid born to the lesbian American mother because taboo is not associated with the kid and his birth is most likely a result of planned pregnancy.
If the kid was lucky and somehow didn't get abandoned. The financial, emotional, and medical needs of upbringing the infant may be too difficult for a single mother to handle. It is further made difficult with society's attitude towards unwed mothers -- they experience isolation, guilt accompanied by stress and depression, low self esteem. This means limited job prospects and lack of supporting people as she would find no friends in the society because of taboo. The mental trauma and frustration can have negative impact on child's upbringing because she will be the main person to look after the kid. Sometimes she will need some adult to speak her heart out, fend off the social pressure and discuss things with an adult about some important decisions for the kid. However, she will be alone and rather she will have to fend off sexual advances of some men towards her who would try to be "friends" with that lonely woman – some perverts in India will automatically consider her immoral given the fact that she is an unwed mom. Moreover, how will the lonely unwed mother earn a living? If she leaves the kid with someone else then she will not be able to devote the important and required time for her kid.
In the case of lesbian mothers, at least they have themselves for supporting each other and in addition to that the LGBTs stay together in groups and communities. Thus, lesbian mothers wont be as isolated as compared to the unwed mother in India. This is better than a lonely mom and her kid when it comes to fending off social pressure due to taboo. Its also better because they can consult each other for somethings regarding the kid. Even if another mother cannot entirely replace a father as a role model, she can always role play as a father and provide a strong support to the biological mother both emotionally and by earning a living while the biological mother looks after the kid. Thats what the pregnancy after a deliberate planning is all about.
Lastly, no one brought forward the "fear" about the apparent possibility of LGBT parenting "harming" their kids just because they happen to be homosexual. Nevertheless, let me counter it, before RTH brings it out, by saying that American medical association and American psychological association have noted that there is no evidence that their parenting causes harm 
Some people said that the family will join the unwed mothers. However, first of all if we bring the family in equation then there is a high chance of kid abandonment under family pressure. Moreover, even if the family is involved the kid will be seen as bringing "shame" to the whole family. Will other siblings and their conjoint keep quiet over this suffering? Either they will go away causing break in the family or they will vent out their frustration on the mother and the kid, who in turn will have to brave the daily taunts from their own kins.
For Indian unwed mom, it is not a simple matter of ignoring daily gossips, but also a question of tackling practical problems like school admissions. The taboo and system in India is such that its even difficult to admit the kid to a school. For example, at one place in India, an unwed mother's "son cannot be admitted to school as the village officer has now denied the boy a caste certificate. Reason? He has no 'known' father and hence no caste"! 
I would quote  on Indian society more particular to small towns in India that "are still imbued with the stereotypical image of Indian female sexuality more akin to the Victorian - the passive, pure and innocent woman." Aren't Indian society like that of England in 1830's when "unmarried mothers were considered undeserving welfare subjects. Unmarried mothers were characterized as lying, manipulative, irresponsible, promiscuous, and sexually corrupt and as bad mothers. There is a commissioner's report that tells us, for example that 'continued illicit intercourse has, in almost all cases, originated with the females' and that 'female in very many cases becomes the corrupter' the women 'feel no disgrace'." Aren't women always unfairly blamed in India just like above? Will India take 200 yrs more, just like England, when finally this taboo is removed from its society? Until then the problems faced by the mother will directly impact the kid because she is the main care taker. Regarding this plight I just have to say that its high time that society ends this hypocrisy!
About the kid: society will call him an accident, bas***d, mistake and what not! Unlike in the case of lesbian-mom-kid, the taboo will affect the unwed-mom-kid more because the kid may think that if he was not born in the first place then this taboo wouldn't have existed. But for lesbian-mom-kid, as Gauri pointed out, "American society does not bother much about one's family name, father's occupation, brother's education etc. The emphasis is more on the individual."
4.1 Explanations for Absentee father or Lesbian mom: Ajnu said that the unwed-mom-kid will have to explain about his absent father as well as his mother. First of all let me remind you that absence of father is not a taboo in USA – why will he have to explain it a lot? Absence of father is very well accepted in USA. Kid will already see many examples of divorced moms and unwed moms in USA and will consider it as normal. Regarding explaining the lesbian moms he can point out towards the lesbian community, who stay together, and show them that see there are many people out there, fighting for their rights and over time he will turn out to be correct as their fight is bearing fruits today! Moreover, he will say that when you can accept single moms then why cant you accept lesbian moms. Its about freedom and human rights. He will show them the example of unwed mom in India and tell them see what how people suffer when human rights are not respected.
This brings me to the point of Cuckkoocutter, He said that its worse to provide an explanation for something that is present as compared to something that is absent. I disagree with him. Its easier to provide explanation for someone who is physically present in front of your eyes because you can directly confront that person and that person will give you the best explanation. In this case that person can even try to fill the void created by the absent father unlike the Indian counterpart. On the other hand its very difficult to provide explanation for something that is not in front of one's eyes. Just look at the cases of so many religious differences and wars throughout the history of mankind who could never explain God who is father/mother of all mankind -- just because God isn't directly in front of their eyes (even if some people may not like to call God as absent.
4.2 LGBT protests: Ajnu also pointed out that there were lots of protests to gain rights for LGBTs. My point is that First of all, isn't it good that at least the protests are there? This shows a sense of oneness and a sense of fighting for their rights among gays/lesbians (LGBTs). LGBTs usually stay together and support each other. Moreover, their protests are producing fruits now. That kid will be involved in a meaningful fight that in turn would bear fruits later. He/she will fight for her mother's rights and will start winning in the years to come. Nothing like this when it comes to the sense of achievement.
However, where is this sense of community in unwed mothers in India? Where are the protesting unwed mothers in India?
When we come to this last point then the debate turns more generic. When we compare the environment and opportunities then the list of points in favor of India or in favor of USA is long. Note that Ajnu already agreed that USA provides better opportunities and better lifestyle and Gauri already pointed out some key points. Ajnu already pointed out that there is more acceptance for LGBTs in USA as compared to the past.
I agree and acknowledge India's economic rise, but lets see it in detail and lets see what does it mean for an individual: The standards of living for middle class (specified in debate topic) in USA are higher than that in India. But, even if we consider them equal then there are other environmental factors to consider – Better education opportunities in USA, better per capita health expenditure of India ($109) vs USA($6714), better human development rank of USA, less corruption in USA with USA rank 19 vs India's 84 [9, 10, 11] Don't forget that India is also considered as the road death capital . There are problems of law and order for example already pointed out in point 1 where police itself turned out responsible for swelling numbers of unwed mothers -- and that is just a tip of an iceberg.
There is approx. 50% chance that the kid will be a girl. In that case both kid and mother will have to worry about the negative attitude towards girls apparent from female infanticide cases in India and gender gap (rank USA 31 vs India 114). Only silver lining is better rank than USA in term of women's political participation, but here forget about the political career of an unwed mother because of the associated taboo
In India the corruption is rampant (bad rank 84 as compared to USA's rank 19). Corruption is like a disease that eats away the society and more importantly makes the system very unfair with no guarantees of rewards for hard work and that again means less opportunities. Someone said that growing up in USA is as difficult as in India for the middle class. Let me point it out that rampant corruption and problems of law and order make it more difficult for anyone in India, be it middle class, high or low class.
Someone said that Indian choice is better because there is more peace of mind. Does peace of mind means to become immune to heavy corruption, high road deaths, terrorist attacks, law and order problems, gender gap? Does it mean that bad news no longer affects one person because one has grown accustomed to it? It this is the case then let me tell you that it is a very bad idea!
Also let me address some points raised by some people:
5.1 Survival instincts and general awareness: Cuckkoocutter says that Indians have better survival instincts and better general awareness. We should not overestimate the general awareness of everyone in India – if people were that aware then they wont be tolerating corruption, social problems, etc. He might be comparing top brass of India with average American because otherwise I can show him many 10th pass people who think that Paris is in London, USA is United kingdom or every "gora" guy is British.
Talking about great Indian survival instincts – I will doubt them if out of 1 billion people they fail to let you survive up to the medal rounds in the Olympics. I know there are other factors involved for the point about Olympics. But, even if we agree that Indians have good survival instincts then I would say that most of their time is getting wasted in surviving for wrong things/problems that shouldn't have been there in the first place - corruption, food problems, terrorism, law and order problems, traffic deaths. In fact its high time to spread correct awareness and rather garner survival instincts for sports, greater ideas than petty issues, quest for knowledge and science, adding to the economy(silver lining that its at least there), better society, better lifestyle and other better ideas – something that ancient India used to do!
5.2 Indians coming to USA: People go out of India to everywhere for better opportunities – see net negative migration rate of India . Some people said that the kid can get born in India and after sometime can come to USA for opportunities. It sounds contradictory and at the least ironic because at least it concedes the acceptance of better opportunities in USA. I would say that unwed-mom-kid will have to defeat so many odds and most likely will have to be among the top brass to come to USA. He could have done this simply by taking the other choice, instead of playing Russian roulette.
5.3 Hate crimes Ajnu pointed out the hate crimes -- You have to consider the statistics as well. When we look at the statistics of 1995  and 2004  the number of anti-female homosexual victims is very low around 200 in both the years. This is because of good law and order situation in USA and this is also because people attack women less as compared to men. Given the low number of lesbian victims, given very good law and order implementation in USA and strong sense of community among LGBTs, one wouldn't loose sleep over this.
However, is the law and order situation good in small towns of India? Who will protect the unwed mother from criminals, sexual harassers, religious extremists, stone pelting? In fact, who will protect her from the corrupt police officers who rape women (see ACP Rathore case - cases like that dont come out in open everyday. They don't get justice everyday, but who will file FIR against police in India?)? Some of these perverts will assume that the lonely unwed mother is immoral because she is unwed mother.
In conclusion, I would say that long time committed lesbian mom is a better choice because of planned pregnancy (not to forget she also kept the kid for 9 months in her womb), foresightedness, balanced love and rational thinking, 2 moms, LGBT strong community, their protests bearing fruits today, better law and order, better education, environment and opportunities in USA vs lonely unwed India mom, whose extra love factor got dismissed, with chances of kid abandonment, characterized with accidental (and perhaps teen) pregnancy, shortsightedness, refusal to admit in a school, without recent improvement in the attitude of Indian society, Russian roulette and risk factor due to bad law and order, corruption, traffic problems and other detailed points written above.
 1995 stats from http://www.fbi.gov
Joined: 15 September 2007
I apologize for the late reply. I was not able to give this debate all that it deserved, but here is my best attempt at providing my side of the debate some closure. Thanks to Sarina for organizing the debate and also thank you to all those who participated – especially Karan, who stuck it out until the end. :) Also, thanks to all those who have been keeping up with the debate.
I chose to be born in India to a small town unwed mother as opposed to the lesbian couple in moderate America. Although both conditions come with very heavy taboos associated with them, I believed that the child in India may lead an easier life as opposed to the child in America. While presenting my side of the debate, I did my best to leave emotional sentiments and nationalism out of it. Winning support through logic and reasoning, I felt, was more significant than tugging at emotional heartstrings – clearly, that latter is something that could easily be accomplished in this debate. Also, I felt the discussion on the morality of homosexuality, regardless of personal beliefs, is irrelevant to this debate and I have tried to stay clear of that as well.
I do not question the love that a parent showers upon a child – in either case, because I don't think anyone has the right to question that love. However, I do question society's intentions and reaction to the two conditions that are presented in this topic. If I were given a choice to be raised in India or US and focused primarily on economic gains and opportunities, yes, I would honestly pick the US for the number of opportunities it provides along with a better lifestyle. But to live in the US as a child with two lesbian mothers is not an easy task. Despite all the flags of liberalism that America waves, and the freedom it promises, the reality is that the true American, that next door apple-pie eating neighbor, will be just as judgmental and unwelcoming as anyone around the world. The government of a nation, its laws, and its Constitution can pass laws, it can make various claims on individual rights, but it cannot change the mentality of an everyday American.
Despite all the claims on acceptance in America, a lesbian couple is still something, even in this decade, that you go out and see everyday. There are still no children in everyday schools that write stories about their lesbian parents at home. America is just as intolerant, if not more, of lesbian parents as India was of unwed mothers in the 90s. The difference now is that India has progressed in its mindset in this decade, whereas even after the strong gay rights movement, a large part of the US is still intolerant of same sex couples, let alone children of same sex couples.
The Indian child, will, yes have difficulty being brought up without a father, because society will call upon him to explain his father's absence. However, the American child will be called on to do more than just that. He will not only have to explain that he does not have a father, he will also be held accountable for explaining his mother's sexuality. - to tell others that he has not only no father, but also a second mother. Despite all the progress the US has made, you still go out in the world and write down your "mother" and "father's" names. You do not write down "parent 1" and "parent 2". That is the difference between the challenges the children will face in the US as opposed to India.
As if the mother's sexuality is not enough, what of the child's sexuality? As a teen, all of this will not go away. He will grow up, even in this day and age, wondering whether he should be like his parents or like the other kids he sees in school. This becomes more than just the external challenge that he is already facing, and becomes an inner conflict. We all know of the kinds of challenges teenagers face especially in the US. With peer pressure and so many societal expectations, this "condition" will always be attached with this child. On the other hand, perhaps the child in India will be able to accept that his father left him and his mother and learn to move on. As he grows older, his challenges will become less. While for the child in America, the challenges only grow as he grows older. He would be a teenager in today's time, but it is not as though we can claim that society has suddenly become extremely tolerant and accepting of everyone. That is not true – with policies like Don't Ask Don't Tell enforced in the military, how can we claim that the US is more accepting?
Karan constantly made the argument that there will two people to shower love over the child born in America as opposed to India. I would again like to restate that more people do not automatically signify more love or even a stronger family. I think questioning the love between a mother and a child (in either case) is questioning nature. For the Indian mother, she had her child out of wedlock. As we already know, that was not an easy task for any woman in small town India in the 90s. In fact, many women in her place would abort the child knowing the challenges that the mother and child would face. But this mother decided to keep her baby, there is no question of wanting or not wanting the child. The child's birth is symbolic enough that the mother wanted to keep this child. Otherwise, he would have been aborted or landed in an orphanage somewhere. Also, the same argument can be applied to the lesbian mothers – in that one of them may be the biological mother, but her significant other at the time may have been someone else.
As I said before, speaking strictly of economic gains, I would prefer the US over India. However, speaking of more than just economic gain, I think India would nurture this child with its culture, traditions, and beliefs. With my best efforts to keep nationalism out of it, I would say that despite all the challenges the child faces, he or she will find that sense of belonging in India. Also, the significance of family and the filial responsibility is so high in India, that despite the social taboo inflicted upon the family by the mother, I am sure her family will support her in these tough times. Unlike the US, families are given a lot more importance in desi culture. Financial and moral support will come from the mother's family and will provide the child with a sense of belonging and an environment of nurture. If in any case the mother's family abandons the unwed mother and the child, this is when people being "nosy" in India helps. Despite the abandonment, the Indian mother will find a place for herself in society. There is always someone to provide moral support in the form of friends, elderly, or humanity. The sense of community in India is far greater than the sense of community in the US where people are more different than alike.
Finally, the gay rights movement was a huge deal in the US. In fact, one could argue that it would fall in the same category as the civil rights movement in American history. However, seeking sexual freedom is not the only aspect of this movement, and as with any movement, there is opposition involved. Opposition is at large even today with the gay rights movement. Most of the states do not even recognize or allow gay marriages. For those FIVE (note, only five) states that allow same sex marriages, there is still opposition within those states. In fact, as I pointed out earlier, that opposition has led to many hate crimes against same-sex couples. The violence involved in these heinous acts is heartbreaking, yes, but it is also reality. Raising a child in that situation becomes even more difficult. It is not just a question of tolerance anymore, it is a question of fear for one's life. How is a child expected to cope with such drastic challenges? On the other hand, in India, the most that will happen is that the child and his mother will be outcasts in society, but at least they will not have to deal with threats of violence everyday.
In the end, I still conclude that the child born to the unwed Indian mother in small town India will lead a better life than the child born to lesbian mothers in the US. Clearly, nurture requires more than just financial and economic benefits, and India will provide that for the child. Although both children will face challenges, the child in India will face fewer challenges and will find opportunities to overcome those challenges.
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