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By Usha Anenga
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The term "garbage in, garbage out" originated in the computer science and information technology fields to illustrate the fact that the quality of the output received from a computer program depends on the quality of input. Simply put, what you put in is what you get out.

All children are a gift, an amazing blessing from God. However, in Africa, a high premium is placed on having male children. Amongst a few reasons, the major one is that only a male child can maintain a family name and inheritance, as a female child will eventually drop her family name for that of her husband when she marries.

Oftentimes in this quest to maintain the family name, the woman is under pressure to produce a male child. In cases where she keeps giving birth to girls and not boys, she is blamed for it. Pressure from in-laws most times leads to divorce, and the husband will continue to marry or sexually engage other women until a male child is born. This scenario is not only limited to illiterates as we see it happening even amongst well schooled and educated individuals.

However, suffice to make abundantly clear that a woman has little or nothing to do with determining the sex of the baby she will produce, rather it is the man who determines the sex of the child.

A baby is produced when a man's sperm cell fertilizes the woman's egg. Both carry sex chromosomes; sperm cells carrying either X or Y chromosomes while the egg always carries an X chromosome.

If an egg is fertilized by an X-bearing sperm cell, it will result into a baby girl and if it is fertilized by a Y-bearing sperm cell, the resulting baby will be a boy. Therefore, the man’s sperm cell holds the key to a baby’s gender, not the woman's egg.

By this, let's give our women breathing space and cut them some slack when it concerns this issue. If you particularly want a male or female child so badly, give it to your wife and she'll produce it for both of you. It's garbage in, garbage out!

Usha Anenga is a Medical Doctor and writes from Makurdi, Benue State. He is reachable via [email protected]