It’s a girl!

November 15, 2012

On Monday night I joined some of the amazing ladies from Collective Shout (amongst other awesome people) to watch a documentary called, it’s a girl.

As the documentary stated, in our society those three words generally bring joy and elation – a healthy baby of either gender is a miracle and a gift. But this is most certainly not the case with unimaginable numbers of baby girls born in countries such as India and China.

These two countries were the focus of this completely disheartening look at the doomed and cursed life of being born female.

The movie kept using the term ‘Gendercide’ – but Melinda Tankard Reist, who said a few words before the screening, felt that the term ‘Femicide’ is more accurate. After all, the male gender is not at risk. At all.

The documentary first looked at India where we learn of one mother who, in her effort to bear a son, murdered eight of the baby girls she bore. Eight.

Why? Because when a girl is born, she only signifies a loss of money. Although dowries are not permitted it is still a very common practice. It is an entrenched custom, from the lowest classes to the elite.

A son = money that will come in from their daughter-in-law’s dowry.

A daughter = money lost to pay the dowry.

Greed. That is simply what it’s all about.

That realisation had a profound impact on me because in the back of my mind, I always saw greed as predominantly haunting the halls of the Capitalist realm.

But no. It’s everywhere. This chilling realisation also brought me to understand one simple truth – the main commodity used in making more money – are girls and women. Regardless of age. Regardless of location.

So if a baby girl is ‘lucky’ enough not be snuffed out at birth, she has a life of continual fear and struggle to contend with. Many face a life of neglect – no food or medical attention is afforded to them, as it’s always given to the boy. And of course, the ever-present fear of violence – such as being doused in petrol and set alight because the dowry wasn’t sufficient, for example.

After all, it’s HER fault.

‘Dowry deaths’ are illegal but justice is rarely served. Big surprise.

Then there’s China.

Their One Child Policy has created a situation that’s devastated its people. If you’re from the city, it’s only one child for you and if you’re from the country, a second child is permitted…if you’re first one was a girl.

Forced abortions are common place by the Family Planning Department. Back in June I posted Chinese abortion –  which recounts the harrowing forced abortion, performed on a woman who was seven months’ pregnant.

Statistic – there are an estimated 35,000 abortions a day / 1,500 an hour. There are also approx. 500 suicide attempts by women in China a day.

That’s a lot of misery for the female gender.

Because so many girls have been ‘disposed of’ there are now 37 million MORE men than women in China. The similar, deeply rooted belief that the Chinese share with India, is that everybody wants a daughter-in-law…just no daughters.

These men, who are aimlessly dragging their feet through life without a wife, are called ‘bare branches’ – but hey, that’s just not on! Measures need to be taken to find him a wife.

How? Why not kidnap someone else’s young daughter and raise her yourself? Then she’ll be nice and ready to wed your son when they’re both a little older.

Sounds like a great plan!

Ooh, ooh! What about the men who just want to have fun? Well, how about kidnapping more young girls – really little ones too – and sell them as sex slaves? A fortune could be made! Excellent notion. Top notch.

Statistic70,000 girls a year are trafficked.

On my drive home I was inundated with so many conflicting emotions. Predominantly it was helplessness. I met a wonderful couple at the screening, Liz and Michael Newton-Brown, a married couple who started their own group called, The Freedom Project – Ending human trafficking and slavery – and I asked them, “What can be done? It seems hopeless.”

It’s absurd. It’s madness. What has the human race succumbed to?

What the hell is going on???

If it’s not a hatred towards women and girls, what is it?

When I got home I asked my husband rhetorically, why does ‘man’ look down on ‘woman’ so much?

I mean:

Question #111: Why aren’t we a team? 

How wonderful it would be if we were. Truly were.

We wouldn’t recognise this place.

Thank goodness for all the driven, dedicated and inspiring people, like the ones mentioned above, who are tirelessly trying to raise awareness. There’s hope.

Deeep Breath


7 Responses to “It’s a girl!”

  1. Verina said

    no words.. 😦 😦

  2. anonymousthoughts said

    But is it always greed? It’s unbelievably tragic, I agree, but there is an amazing amount of poverty in those countries and perhaps the prospect of all that untenable expense is simply too much for people to deal with.

    Please understand I’m not endorsing it in any way, but if we’re truly seeking to understand that situation, in our comfortable Western lives, we are bound to fail.

    • questionsforwomen said

      I agree, but the film was communicating that it ultimately is about greed, as a son equals money and a daughter is a loss. It also explained how it seeps through all classes as it’s irrelevant of financial status – a wealthy family will have to pay BIG time for a dowry and so do the poor.
      The problem lies in the dowry and that India continues to participate in perpetuating its importance – at the peril of girls. What leaves me perplexed is that this a chosen way to live. How has the payment of a dowry poisoned a culture so deeply, that they choose and condone the mistreatment, violence and murder of girls. So, so sad.
      Thanks heaps for your comment. I never took what you said as an endorsement. x

      • While I agree that greed plays a part, and I admit I haven’t watched the film, but have done quite a bit of research on the topic, and at least in terms of India, its more than just dowry that’s at the heart of female infanticide and foeticide. It’s the basic disregard for the rights and inherent dignity of girls and women – which manifests itself through such travesties. I mean, as you mentioned, it isn’t just the forced abortions and infanticide – it extends to lack of health care, education, and other basic rights throughout the lives of girls and women. It’s visible in rape culture, and the lack of implementation of laws prosecuting rapists. Its visible in the implicit (and at times explicit) condonation of domestic violence, against daughters, sisters, mothers, and wives. Its visible in almost all facets of Indian society – from birth to death. So yes, I think greed plays a big part, but so do all of these hurdles that women have to face throughout their life just to survive. Again, I DEFINITELY don’t condone the behaviour. It sickens me. But, its much more complicated than just greed.

      • questionsforwomen said

        Yes – well expressed. It goes much deeper than greed, I agree. I just (in my ignorant bubble) didn’t see that would be a factor before seeing the film…I actually didn’t know it was that bad in India.
        It was devastating to see that the birth of a female is greeted with a perceived bleak future for her parents, which in turn perpetuates the terrible treatment of her, as though she were an animal.
        Thanks heaps for your comment. x

      • 🙂 Yeah, it really is eye-opening how terrible the impact of money or the lack thereof can be, isn’t it?

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