Imagine this: you’re a young, lower-class couple expecting a baby. You live in a society where you are expected to give life to a boy. You somehow find enough money to get an ultrasound. It’s a girl. You have three options: abortion, killing the baby once it’s born, or keeping the child but neglecting her for the rest of her life. Unfortunately, thousands of Indian parents face this type of scenario.
Around the world, girl-to-boy ratio is 105 boys to every 100 girls. However, in some parts of China and India, that ratio is 140 boys to 100 girls. The number of boys is increasing, and fewer girls are being born. Many Indian and Chinese families would prefer a boy to a girl. A boy is seen as strength, wealth, and power, while a girl is seen as a burden. This is because an Indian family with a daughter has to pay a dowry. A dowry is the property or money brought by a bride to her husband upon their marriage. Hence, parents that have a boy get paid dowry and gain a daughter-in-law, and parents with daughters lose their wealth and their daughter. This gender preference has led to killing daughters immediately after birth, abortion, and neglect.
This mass extermination of girls, Gendercide, happens because of the high value put on boys and low value put on girls. Many girls are handed over to orphanage centers by their own parents. When a Gendercide is committed, most parents don’t even feel bad – they believe that death is instant and unproblematic. If the daughter lives, she will suffer in poverty for the rest of her life, day by day.
Girls under the age of five have a high mortality rate because of infanticide. Regardless of if they die of hunger or if they are sick, parents don’t want to spend money on food or medicine. This is negligent homicide. The rate of abuse, neglect, infanticide, and feticide is so high that one out of every four girls born in India doesn’t live to the age of puberty.
So what is the real reason why these parents are brutally eliminating females? It is deep in their culture. A male is expected to take care of the parents, handle the property and carry on the traditions. Once a female gets married, the daughter loses her connection with her family; she’s of no use. According to a UN estimate, there are more than 200 million missing girls due to Gendercide.
Gendercide doesn’t just occur in poor families. Rich families who can afford an ultrasound will find out the gender of the baby, and in most cases commit female feticide, aborting their babies because of her gender. This is socially acceptable because it is deemed a kinder way of killing. This way they are “protecting” their child, their families, and themselves. This is why the ratio of girls to boys is decreasing.
These cultures, like that in India, have been devaluing women for years. Women are beaten down each time they stand up for themselves to the point where they can’t stand anymore. Women who come from countries and cultures that value women, who have equal rights, should stand up for the girls who are victims of Gendercide. Hillary Clinton said, “It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls.” It is an unalienable right to live. It’s what makes us human, and it should not be taken away.