Living as a foreigner in India, it is not so obvious that I am in a land of genocide against girls. I’ve never found a newborn in a trash can, never witnessed an illegal sex-determining ultrasound, never heard from anyone that they despise their daughters. My kids have plenty of girls in their school, I see girls all around me in our neighborhood, on our streets, everywhere we go. Wouldn’t we notice if millions of girls were missing around us?
Of course, I see the way women are treated and looked at daily. I experience first-hand that it’s a man’s world, no doubt. I am often surprised by the way boys are spoiled and catered to. I’ve met many families who only have sons. I know about the dowry system that causes an often unbearable financial burden on girls’ parents. But the statistics are much more staggering than this! They tell me that terrible, blood-boiling injustice is happening right under my nose. And because this is my home for now, people’s worldviews and their subsequent actions become a lot less theoretic and a lot more personal. But October 11th should also matter to you, wherever you live.
International Day of the Girl Child matters, because like Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” If you cannot do anything else, you can learn, share with your family and friends, and pray. Plead. Consistently and faithfully.
Some of the facts: at least 30 million females are missing from India’s population today due to gendercide, the systematic killing of girls. In Delhi, there are 866 girls for every 1000 boys, but there are other states where the ratio is 830 to 1000. Why? To put it simply, according to the ingrained patriarchal worldview, men are valuable and women are not—especially those who are not mothers! The ancient dowry system, in which families give expensive gifts to the groom when their daughter gets married, results in parents preferring boys. The fact that girls will leave their family and belong to the husband’s furthers the idea that having girls is a bad investment. As the saying goes, raising a daughter is like watering your neighbor’s garden. Because the boy will stay with his family for a lifetime, he is the one who will inherit the land, who will get first dibs on going to school, getting food, getting medical care. According to the system in place, he is his family’s social security.
And where is all this leading? Again, simply put, to girls being less educated, less nurtured, less valued, less wanted. To illegally aborting girls in the womb and to drowning or suffocating infant daughters. And the huge lack of adult women means millions of men who can’t get married, which of course fuels crimes like rape, sex-trafficking, prostitution, and kidnapping.
The problem feels utterly complex, overwhelming and monumental. Where do we start? How will change happen? Where does hope come from? I have to remind myself that God is already present here and He is at work, through His Spirit and His people. He is the One who is able to change hearts and minds, ingrained worldviews and deep-rooted lies.
Please pray with us in the face of this ongoing tragedy.
- The Ending Gendercide team is addressing the issue in three main ways: by creating awareness among students, by conducting church trainings about violence against women, and by collaborating with other organizations fighting to protect girls. Pray for their daily work.
- Pray for the status of women to be lifted, not only as mothers but as human beings that God created with infinite value.
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to confront the web of lies that girls and women are stuck in: the patriarchal worldview, the dowry system, the oppression.
- Pray for the girls in this country who are victims of abuse, neglect, and discrimination.
- Pray for the government’s efforts under the campaign “Save the daughter and educate the daughter.” They are focusing on states with the most unbalanced child sex ratio.
- Pray for good existing laws to be enforced and people who violate the law to be convicted (in cases of violence against women, doctors doing illegal sex determination and abortion for bribes, etc.).
- Pray for the collaboration between religious leaders from all faith backgrounds in Delhi. They recently had a gathering and signed a statement with the purpose of educating their followers about gendercide and encouraging the honoring of women and protection of girls.
- Pray for the Ending Gendercide team’s partner churches to meaningfully celebrate October 11th.
••••••••••Written by Adrienn