The rise of gendercide
10/4/10;( 2 Items)
It’s like a death notice wrappen in pink. A pregnant woman in India has an ultrasound, and when her bill drops into her letterbox it’s in a pink envelope, signalling that she’s having a baby girl. In a country where parents-to-be are not permitted to learn the gender of their unborn child, this is one of several means used to sidestep the law. For those desperate to have a son, the letter can mean a trip to an abortion clinic (where the operation will often be justified with the catch-all “foetal abnormality”) or the more ghastly alternative of post-birth infanticide. The traditional preference for male offspring is the driving force behind the now drastic gender imbalance in China (where by 2020 there will be 4o million more boys than girls) and India (where already there are 24 million more boys).
The Australian, No Internet Text;
Sons are valued more highly because they maintain the family line and can support their parents in old age, while daughters often require a large dowry from a prospective husband.
In China’s and India’s poorest villages and in the tribal areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, fathers frequently don’t even count their daughters when asked how many children they have.
But so-called “gendercide” is also happening in the big cities among the rising middle class, where cheap, portable ultrasound devices are having deadlier consequences than the brutal rituals of tradition.
China’s one-child policy is fast turning it into the Country With Too Many Men.
More than 100 million women are now “missing” in Asia, not just in China and India, but also in Bangladesh, Iran and Pakistan, according to a recent report from the United Nations Development Program.
And the problem is deepening fast. In 2005, the last year for which statistics are available, there were 119 boys for every 100 girls in China, and in some areas the figure was 130 boys to 100 girls, leading to practices in some villages where brothers close in age share a wife.
By 2020, up to 25 million men of marrying age could find themselves without a partner.
Governments in China and India have tried in vain to outlaw the practice of sex-selective abortion, knowing the high social cost over the long term: increased sexual assaults and prostitution, and higher levels of violent crime as young men, unable to find wives, hang out in gangs.
In a heartbreaking new book, Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother, Chinese writer Xinran Xue describes seeing a newborn girl discarded in a chamber pot, and of mothers, haunted by guilt after killing their daughters, committing suicide. It’s a powerful indictment of a despicable, millennia-old practice.
Jane Fraser; 10/4/10; The Australian, No Internet Text
I am here to speak of girls: daughters, sisters, mothers and co. The latest addition to my clan is a six-month-old girl with the bluest eyes, which she shamelessly flutters at all men, especially her father. She’s as laid-back as any baby you’ve seen and has at least three chins. We love her to bits.
So it was with a lurch of nausea that I read an article in a recent edition of the august publication The Economist, headlined Gendercide and illustrated with a pair of pink booties. It reported that at least 100 million baby girls have been killed, aborted or neglected worldwide and the numbers are rising.
Reading it, I kicked myself for not having done so before I attended a dinner at which the guest speaker was a noted American scholar in the fields of constitutional law and religion. His speech was about abortion and it gave us all pause for deep thought. If I’d read the piece before the dinner I would have had something with a bit more gravitas to contribute.
The Economist is at pains from the outset to reveal its opinion on the issue. It believes in abortion, depending on the circumstance, as long as it is “safe, legal and rare” in the words of Bill Clinton, but concedes that those who are anti-abortion would certainly regard this as mass murder.
It happens most frequently in countries where the population has been brought to its knees by rampant poverty, where tradition has it that sons are far more useful than daughters. When China, for example, decreed that each family should have only one child, girls had it. Peasants would give birth to daughters and kill them in the villages; when ultrasound became available, abortion was the better option. In this respect India is not far behind.
There is a plethora of boys and young men in China. They are rather like rogue elephants who get thrown out on their own when they become adults and too hard to handle.
They mooch around in a pack of discomposure, trampling things underfoot and feeling isolated from society. And they have no girls to love.
They are outlaws in society, and their isolation leads to bride trafficking, sexual violence and a rise in female suicides. The country stands to have as many unmarried young men — “bare branches” — as the entire population of young men in the US.
It is indeed a sorry state of affairs.
– It is also all very well to castigate societies, but what would you do if you were in the position of these women?
– What if you had no food on the table and certainly none for another child?
I met a black man in South Africa who said that families in his neighbourhood were starving and to alleviate this they would place huge pots of boiling water on a fire; the smell of water simmering away lessens the appetite.
Many don’t even have water.
As always we tend to bury our heads in the proverbial sand.
If you were in the same circumstances you’d probably kill, steal or do whatever else it took to protect your children.
All you can do is count your blessings, express gratitude that you live in a country with a dearth of draconian laws and wonder why you are so fortunate while millions of people have less than nothing.
We have the luxury to celebrate with joy the birth of a child. We spend time in baby shops choosing fairy outfits and other items of the layette; the babies have breastmilk available, followed by a nutritious formula and fresh fruit and vegetables. We have vaccinations and other medical choices, baby showers and frequent meetings with other yummy mummies.
The Economist article ended with the opinion that all countries need to raise the value of girls. We need girls.
When my daughter had her ultrasound, she found out the sex of her baby.
Some women wish to know, others prefer the mystery and the surprise; they have the choice. She caught the train home with a huge grin on her dial.
The carriage was full of commuters and the man sitting on the seat next to her remarked that she must have had a truly wonderful weekend to be smiling so radiantly.
She demurred and said her weekend had been rather quiet; the reason for her joy was that she had just found out she was carrying a daughter. Everyone in the compartment stood up and cheered.
As Maurice Chevalier sang in Gigi, “Thank heaven for little girls; without them what would little boys do?”