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Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day - It's A Girl

Last week I attended the screening of It’s A Girl: The Three Deadliest Words in the World.  

It’s a Girl is a powerful documentary about the slaughter of female babies and children, especially in countries like China and India.  

Before I even saw the film, the title had me unhinged, perplexed and outraged.  I knew it would be tough to watch the reality of girls being killed, aborted and abandoned simply because they are girls.  As a girl and mother of a girl, I braced myself for the information about to be shared with me.  This is what I learned.

What is gendercide?  Aborting a baby based on gender.

What is female foeticide?  Aborting a baby strictly on the fact she is a girl.

What is infanticide?  The act of killing a newborn infant.

Many women in India live in extreme poverty, governed by patriarchal societies where large dowries are paid to men by the bride’s family when they marry.  Many families cannot afford to have a daughter as the dowry custom can sometimes take almost half the bride’s family’s assets.  Since the people are already so poor, losing half of your household can be devastating (and imagine if you had multiple daughters).  Daughters are looked at as burden’s, many neglected and when they leave their home to marry, many are treated as property; abused by their own husbands.  The option for many India women is to abort or even kill their newborn daughters right after delivery (since most deliver in their homes).  Girls who survive their birth are often times neglected and abused, even sold into sex trafficking. In contrast, the birth of a son is highly celebrated, as the family now has someone who will carry on the family name, take jobs for the family and live with the parents when he is grown and married.  A son will also collect a dowry when he marries and share the wealth with his parents.

Over 200 million baby girls in China have been killed (that’s bigger than the U.S. population) and there are about 40 million abortions a year or 40 every day.  In 1979 communist China enacted the one child policy meaning families have to apply for a birth permit in order to have the legal right to conceive.  Century-old traditions support preference of sons over daughters because boys take on the role to care for the parents in their old age and/or because only sons may inherit land when parent’s die.  Perhaps a family’s livelihood requires hard physical labor only a male offspring can endure.  If a mother conceives a daughter, most times the girl will be aborted so the mother can try again for a son.  In China, communist family planning government officials force a woman who has already had one child to have an abortion, even if it is against her will (unless she can pay a large fine which most people don’t have).  Pregnant women hide in their homes or move to outlining villages to escape, but there is a reward for those who report a woman who is illegally pregnant.  Perhaps you've heard of the case of the forced abortion of Feng Jianmei, which gained national headlines because the brutality of her infant daughter’s death was actually captured on photograph.

Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice you should see this film.  This is a women’s issue.  It’s A Girl isn’t about statistics or politics.  It’s about the cost to society.  In addition, the surplus of men has increased the sex trade and even the stealing of girl babies and children because with fewer girls, there are million of men who will never marry.

If I was suffering in such a way, I would hope my sisters around the world would stand up and help me against such violence and inequality.  Every woman should be entitled to her reproductive rights.

After seeing this film, I felt overwhelmed.  I couldn't wait to get home and hold my daughter, but it was more then that. I wondered what can I do?  The enormity of suffering leaves one hopeless, I mean really, how can I help the mothers and little girls, let alone the death of 200 million little sisters who have already lost their fight?  Before the film, I said a prayer that those of us in attendance would find hope amidst the despair; that even with the horror there would be a glimmer of hope.  I am going to be praying every day for inspiration on what I can do to make a difference. 

1 comment:

  1. I hope you were able to feel some hope. I really appreciated the discussion after the film. I have a blogpost in the works and I'd like to organize a day of fasting and prayer for these mothers and babies. I'll keep you posted.