On March 4, 2013, the World Youth Alliance had the honor of hosting the New York premier of the documentary film “It’s a Girl” as part of the 57th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The theme for this year’s Commission is "Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls". By hosting this screening, WYA aimed to highlight the fact that coercive reproductive health procedures constitute an egregious form of violence against women and girls that must be stopped.
Coercive abortion and sterilization are particularly forceful forms of violence against women in which they are physically forced to undergo procedures, often in a brutal and high-risk manner. The impact on women is doubly discriminatory as it is female fetuses that are most frequently aborted given the culture of son preference present in many parts of the world. Population policies that seek to control fertility inevitably lead to discrimination against the girl child through prenatal sex selection, sex-selective abortion and infanticide.
We were joined by Ms. Reggie Littlejohn, a featured expert in the documentary, who introduced the film and answered questions at the end. Mr. Andrew Brown, the producer, was also present to discuss the inspiration behind the making of the film. “It’s a Girl” captures the chilling reality of coercive reproductive procedures in cultures that value sons over daughters. The film focuses on several families in China and India, and in this way casts the horrific phenomenon of “gendercide” in a highly personal light.
The Beijing Platform for Action notes that prenatal sex selection is a form of violence against women, and urges governments to “enact and enforce legislation against the perpetrators of practices and acts of violence against women…and give vigorous support to the efforts of non-governmental and community organizations to eliminate such practices”. (paragraph 124i) The film expands upon the call to action in Beijing by noting that this is more than a problem of the law. In many countries where sex-selective abortion and female infanticide are prevalent, these practices are also illegal. Thus what is needed is a cultural shift in which girls are viewed as possessing the same inherent dignity and worth as boys.
WYA would like to extend special thanks to Ms. Littlejohn and Mr. Brown for their support, and for their commitment to defending the dignity of the person. We urge our members to host their own screening of this powerful film. Details available here.