|Aren’t they beautiful? And to think they’ve all been named “Unwanted”…
My friend pointed me to this article on Fox News
about a spot of hope in the plight of young girls in Asian countries like India and China. For girls like these (above), changing their names could mean a chance to change their lives.
Girls in these Eastern nations are dying of a strange disease. It is social, not medical but a disease nonetheless. For many families, boys put them in a better social situation, bringing in a dowry at marriage instead of requiring one. Boys can carry on the family name after the parents pass and light the parents’ funeral pyre at their death, according to the Hindu tradition. Women, although rare, are treated as property, aborted when inconvenient, neglected in childhood, offered for a price and sold to the highest bidder when a wife is sought.
Unfortunately, this cultural practice of eliminating women creates a crisis for the “chosen” men who eventually want a woman later in life. Where they are scarce, girls are trafficked in for marriage and breeding purposes, according to a report in the Economist. And as we might suspect, their quality of life does not improve, even as wives. The personal narratives of several Indian women tell tales of socially acceptable abuse – beatings and forced abortions – endured until their bodies produce a son for their husbands.
It’s a painfully counter-intuitive situation. Supply and demand rules suggest that if something is rare, it gains value. This is not the case with the girls of India. Although sought-after as wives, they are named “Nakusa”, or “unwanted” at birth, left to bear the disappointment of their existence, as if they chose to be female to spite a few distant family members. Instead of highly treasured as beautiful individuals with life-giving abilities, a quality much-desired by families seeking wives for their sons, they undergo the tortures of neglect, forced abortion and the grief of carrying this “undesirable” status. The number of girls, decreasing at a rate of almost 7,000 per day, creates a new kind of poverty – a lack of women. And while this reality increases the monetary value offered for a girl, it somehow never touching her intrinsic worth in the eyes of her nation.
I’ll be discussing this topic further in a liveaction.org piece, but I had to relay some of these discoveries now, vent some of the anger and sadness and sift through the injustice. Thanks for reading.