Cortney O'Brien

The United Nations estimates nearly 200 million girls around the world are "missing." Why? A new documentary entitled “It’s a Girl” asks this heartbreaking question and provides an equally heartbreaking answer: gendercide.

From the film’s official website:

In India, China and many other parts of the world today, girls are killed, aborted and abandoned simply because they are girls. The United Nations estimates as many as 200 million girls are missing in the world today because of this so-called “gendercide.”

Gendercide is a common practice in India and China, where girls are often considered inferior to boys. It is a practice so common that, in the film, a woman laughs about how she killed eight infant daughters by strangulation. For anyone who cherishes life, this mother's unthinkable action will stir up both sadness and anger. Yet, as the film relates, she, like many women in her country, is living in a nation that has urged her to take such drastic measures. The documentary highlights a number of cultural factors that explain the hostile and deadly environment. Here are just a few:

The cultural factors

Dowry Deaths

In India, girls are expected to pay a dowry to her husband’s family, a financial burden which has the potential to leave a woman’s own family in poverty. Therefore, it is more advantageous to have sons because they can provide both wealth and power.

One-Child Policy

This is a more well-known policy from China, in which parents are restricted from having more than one child due to fears of overpopulation. If a couple gives birth to a girl, however, they are allowed to try again, since girls are deemed less worthy. LifeNews shared the unnerving story of a woman who was forced to abort her daughter even though it was her first child, for it was her husband’s second child and he did not want her. Astoundingly, a woman in China can be forced to abort a child up until the ninth month of pregnancy if it is the will of their husband.

The consequences

Neglect

Girls who survive infancy are often subject to neglect. Parents who wanted sons ignore their daughters, failing to feed them or take them to the doctor when necessary. In one of many heart wrenching moments in the film, an elderly woman shares how she discovered and rescued an abandoned newborn girl in a basket near the side of the river -- discarded from its parents, it seems, solely because of its gender. What’s more, girls who mature into women often face extreme violence and even death at the hands of their own husbands or other family members.

"Bare Branches"

The disproportionate ratio of boys to girls in China is leading to a culture in which bachelors, or “bare branches,” are remaining bachelors.

From The Economist:

In January 2010 the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) showed what can happen to a country when girl babies don't count. Within ten years, the academy said, one in five young men would be unable to find a bride because of the dearth of young women—a figure unprecedented in a country at peace. The number is based on the sexual discrepancy among people aged 19 and below. According to CASS, China in 2020 will have 30m-40m more men of this age than young women.

Thirty to 40 million lonely men. This is equal to the population of Canada.

Social Unrest

India has been declared as the fourth most dangerous nation for women and girls in the world. In China, the crime rate has nearly doubled in the last 20 years. These statistics can be explained, in part, to the sex ratios in each country.

The parts of China with the most male-biased sex ratios are experiencing a variety of maladies, all tied to the presence of too many young men. These problems include gambling, alcohol and drug abuse, kidnapping, and trafficking of women, incidences of which are all rising steeply in China.

In America, pro-life activists encourage the use of ultrasounds, for statistics show an incredible 78 percent of women who view them ultimately choose life for their unborn child. In nations like India and China, however, ultrasounds can often be the kiss of death for unborn daughters.

That’s why, per the film’s tagline, sometimes the three deadliest words in the world are… “It's a girl.”


Cortney O'Brien

Cortney O'Brien is a Townhall web editor. Follow her on Twitter @obrienc2.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography