“It’s a girl”. Three of the deadliest words in the world. 200 million girls, according to the United Nations, are “missing” worldwide today. On 6th November 2012, World Youth Alliance Europe, by invitation of MEP and Human Rights Working Group Director, Gay Mitchell, attended a screening at the European Parliament of “It’s a Girl”, the new documentary that quietly reveals the shocking truth about gendercide.
“It’s a Girl” opens with a testimony from a woman in India. Calmly, she tells of how she killed her seven baby daughters, simply for being girls. Some killed by strangulation, others by a wet flannel over the face. For her, the economic burden of a girl is too large, and a male is the only child she hopes for.
We learn, in 1961, a law was passed to make dowry illegal in India. “Dowry death” however is rarely investigated by courts. The testimony that follows comes from the parents of a lady who was killed by her husband. Not happy with the dowry he received, and angry by her giving birth to a baby girl, he violently abused her to death.
To determine the sex of a child prenatally was made illegal in India in 1994. We hear the testimony of a young woman who, pregnant with twins, was pressured by her husband and in-laws for a sex determination test, and to abort the twins should they be female. She was thrown down the stairs and locked in a room in the hope that she would miscarry. To this day, this young lady is trying, without success, to prosecute her husband and the doctor who illegally carried out the sex-determination test without her knowledge.
The focus of the documentary shifts to China, where there exists a similar traditional and cultural debasing of females. In China, the culture of son preference is exacerbated by the strictly imposed One Child Policy. By limiting each couple to one child, or two where the first is female in rural areas, many human rights abuses have ensued, including: frequent forced abortions (including full-term pregnancies) and forced sterilizations of couples who attempt to have more than one infant. Kidnappings of young girls are now more and more prevalent simply due to the lack of girls available to be married. Every parent wants a son, and a daughter for their son to marry, but no family wants a daughter.
The discussion following the screening was led by Gay Mitchell, alongside Reggie Littlejohn (President of Women’s Rights without Frontiers) and Evan Grae Davis (Producer of “It’s a Girl” documentary). In response to a question from the floor about what the European Parliament can do to address the issue, Littlejohn questioned the funding of UNFPA and International Planned Parenthood (IPPF). These bodies have worked closely with the Chinese population control machine for decades and are supported by many nations, not only in Europe but the world over, including the United States. Reggie calls for increased vigilance over these institutions.
Reggie Littlejohn gave praise to the European Parliament for recently passing a resolution that strongly condemns the practice of forced abortions and sterilization globally. The resolution urges that funding from the Commission should not breach the European Parliament’s commitment against coercive population control worldwide.
Yet, it seems clear that gendercide and violence against women will not be solved by such means alone. MEP Gay Mitchell also calls for “innovation” and “education”. The devaluing of girls is engrained into culture. What is most striking about “It’s a Girl” is the opening testimony from the Indian woman, which reveals that it is often the families themselves, and even the mothers, who kill their own daughters. Many believe it is more humane to kill a daughter shortly after birth than to let her live. That way she will be saved from the years of misery her life promises.
Economic desperation plays a part, but is certainly not the be-all-and-end-all of gendercide. In some cases it drives the killing of children, yet more often than not what fuels gendercide is greed. Quite simply, males bring wealth, while girls equal an exit of wealth.
Girls are required for the production of the next generation. However, we must not justify the survival of the “rare species of the woman” for their child-producing capacity. This also demeans the fundamental dignity and human rights of women. Women deserve to live for their intrinsic right as human beings. Evan Rae Davis, producer of “It’s a Girl”, finished by urging us to stand up for girls worldwide. Due to the constraints of their cultural environments, women across many parts of the globe simply do not have a voice.
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