Gendercide: the systematic killing of members of a specific sex.
While the United States and North America still have gender issues, this inhumane phenomenon is one aspect of gender inequality we do not face on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis.
This widespread practice of killing or aborting females, strictly on the premise that the baby or fetus is a female and not the preferred sex—male—seems in many of our eyes, unjust. However in the eyes of those living in India, China, and other parts of the world, it is an act of good fortune and normality.
Before I dive deep into this issue that was brought to my attention by a documentary, I want to make clear that I am not discussing the question of abortion in the context that the U.S. defines it. Forced abortions, feticide and infanticide are the topics I will be discussing, which are indisputably in the context of gendercide.
“It’s A Girl” is the documentary I recently watched, thanks to Netflix, that informed me of these horrific acts and inhumane pressures societies of India and China put on women today and have for thousands of years.
As we all know societies many of years ago, globally and generally speaking, viewed women as the less valuable sex. It wasn’t until much later that women began to fight for their basic human rights and have certainly come a long way, but still have father to go.
This amazing documentary discusses this issue of societies who have much, MUCH farther to go than countries like the U.S. when it comes to women’s rights. These societies they touch on still strongly view women as mere objects that can be bought, sold and disposed of without thinking twice.
The beginning of the documentary first takes a look into India. They talk to Indian women who have killed their own female babies, who justify their infanticide—or a mother killing their child within a year of birth—because of the difficulties having a girl brings on to themselves, but most of all, their families.
One of these women had killed 8 of her female babies shortly after birth, with the statement, “Why keep girls when raising them would be difficult? Women have the ability to give life and they have the power to take it away.”
These difficulties the woman mentions are dowries—which is property of the bride’s parents (i.e. money, jewelry, land, cars, cattle, etc.) given to the groom’s parents for taking their daughter as a wife for their son. In India, it does not matter if you are rich or poor, dowries are given no matter what within marriage and the only difference is what exactly the dowry includes.
So for families who have female children, their wealth will be drained at some point and in their eyes, the act of killing their child—whether through abortion or infanticide—is much more convenient than letting it live.
Though it is illegal in India to kill your own child and also to get a sex test and abortion in order to see if the baby is worth keeping—that is if it’s a boy—cases that are brought up to the courts are mainly dismissed or never dealt with. Even worse, doctors are being paid “under the table” by families to do such testing and abortions based on sex preference, only perpetuating this evil cycle.
In China, dowries may not be the direct issue that causes gendercide, but the value put on females and laws preventing families from having more than one child do. How the one-child-per-family law affects gendercide is the one exception to it; that is if the first child is a girl, they can try again for a boy. However if the second child is a girl the family must either abort it or if not, the child will be an illegal child, meaning it is not an official citizen of China, cannot marry, cannot receive an education and much more.
From this, other issues are created: There is a significant uneven ration of males to females and due to this, young females are kidnapped from their homes and kept to be a future a bride for another family’s son—known as child-bride kidnapping. So these families want brides for their sons, but do not want daughters for themselves.
If the importance of this issue has not sunk in yet, below are some statistics that gendercide has produced:
- There are 140 males for every 100 females in India and China, compared to the global ration of 105 boys for every 100 girls
- 1 and 4 girls die before puberty in these regions
- 200 million women are missing each year because of gendercide
- 100,000 female adults are murdered each year from dowry violence—harassment by husbands and in-laws in an effort to extort an increased dowry
- 14 million forced abortions are done a year, up to the 9th month of pregnancy in China
- 500 women a day commit suicide in China
Simply because of how societies of India, China and other areas around the world value women, innocent lives and basic human rights are being taken by force of a government and societal norms. To think of how many beautiful girls that have been taken because of this horrid issue, makes the world much darker than before.
As Hillary Clinton stated in 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women, “Women’s rights are human’s rights.” Because women in societies that uphold gendercide do not have a voice to fight for themselves, we WHO DO have to fight for them. WE have to bring this issue into another perspective for these societies; we must show them that without females in our world, our world would be no more.
The first step is realizing ourselves the necessity for change and I hope through this article, you do realize the importance of this issue and with that, are willing to help as much as you can.
If you visit www.itsagirlmovie.com, you can take a look at the long list of organizations helping and making a difference with gendercide. Choose one, two or even three and find out how you can get involved. I have chosen several and plan on doing all I can to help those women who do not have a voice, be able to shout as loud as they can.