This blog was originally posted on March 9, 2015.
I vividly remember the first time I heard about gendercide. I sat in a church service in Cambridge, UK, and our pastor showed us a clip from ‘It’s A Girl’, an excellent and powerful documentary highlighting the issue of gendercide in India and China. The stories described broke my heart as I was hit by the horror that we could devalue our girls to such an extent; however, the thing that most surprised me was the fact that I had not heard of this issue before. How was it possible that 200 million missing girls could go unnoticed by us in the UK? That’s about 3 million a year, double the amount of people that died from AIDS in 2013 . How could news about something of this scale be entirely absent from our media? And, given that it is missing, what needs doing in order to raise the profile of this issue?
It was with these questions on my mind that I found myself, one year later, on the train to the airport with the strange mix of excitement, fear, anticipation and apprehension that only a trip to a completely new place can create. I was on my way to India to work with Reconciled World’s Ending Gendercide program for two months. It was a wonderful trip filled with so many treasured experiences. I found it hugely inspiring to work in an organization that keeps God at the centre of everything it does, making it a unique and very special place to work. I was given the opportunity to do all kinds of tasks from creating awareness posters to facilitating discussions using image theatre. Aside from work, I quickly fell in love with the hustling, bustling cacophony of noise, colour and smells in the city and spent much of my time sampling every new type of street food I came across.
Primarily I went to learn more; to learn about gendercide, what is being done to tackle it, and how we can do more. The trip taught me a great deal and it’s hard to condense this into a few sentences so, instead, I’d like to pull out three things that most surprised me. Firstly was the fact that gendercide is a greater problem in the most developed areas, rather than the most deprived. For example, even within Delhi, where the child sex ratio is just 871 girls to every 1000 boys , it is the more affluent Southern districts that have the worst sex ratios. Secondly, I was shocked to learn that gendercide is by no means restricted to India and China. In fact, it is a rapidly growing issue in places like the Caucasus with sex ratios as low as 833:1000 in Georgia , which is worse than any state in India! Finally, I was taken aback to discover that there was a real lack of support from the one place I expected to see it most: women’s rights groups. With a woman’s right to birth control being a central focus in many of their campaigns, it is believed that many are fearful of placing any restriction on abortion rights, even in the case of sex selective abortion. This is a highly complex issue and obviously there are outstanding women’s rights groups and charities that are courageously fighting against gendercide. I hope that more and more groups will begin to follow their lead and grasp the magnitude of gendercide as a human rights issue: both for the unborn baby girls and for the women left to grow up in an environment with too few females and therefore a heightened risk of being subjected to trafficking and polyandry.
Whilst these facts and figures are incredibly daunting, the overriding feeling that remained as I departed from Ending Gendercide was hope. The talented, passionate and Christ-centred team in India are demonstrably transforming hearts and minds as they fight for equality and justice, speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Their work (and your support!) is transforming their country day by day, family by family, into a place where the birth of a baby girl is celebrated as much as the birth of a baby boy.
After working in some of the most deprived areas of Cambridge, UK, as a community intern at her church for a year, Amy decided to combine her love for both scientific research and community work by doing a PhD. She is now looking at how poverty affects brain development in children with the hope of identifying key targets for early childhood interventions. Amy interned with the Ending Gendercide program in 2014.