Global: In Memoriam: The World's Unwanted Baby Girls Print E-mail
March 9, 2014

In Memoriam: The World's Unwanted Baby Girls

My Day | blog |  by Mary L. Wentworth**

Another International Women’s Day is here. Even though it does not receive the attention that it deserves, International Women’s Day has received official recognition in this country. However, no day in our calendar honors an individual woman for service to our nation ­ or for work on behalf of women ­ in the way that other holidays honor men. Mother’s Day doesn’t count. It’s a patriarchal holiday that was squeezed dry of its founder’s anti-war message, paving the way for President Wilson to declare it a day for honoring mothers.

This omission remains in spite of the fact that the Women’s Liberation Movement that began in the late nineteen sixties was the most powerful movement of the twentieth century, changing the legal, social and economic landscape of our country. Yet it is one that patriarchs are determined to forget. Not only determined to forget, but also determined to whittle away at the gains made.

“Twelve Years A Slave” had the distinction of receiving the Best Picture of the Year at the recent Academy Awards ceremony with Lupita Nyong'o receiving an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. It is important to point out, however, that women have been in servitude going back through many millennia.

In order to maintain its dominance, patriarchs have imposed restrictions on women that vary according to the culture. The primary requisite is always that women bear children, willingly or unwillingly. And preferably sons. Patriarchy is structured so that sons have greater value since they become part of the economic world while daughters must remain within the confines of the home, becoming a burden, another mouth to feed, particularly if they remain unmarried.

It is within this sociological context that we see a horrific turn of events in many countries. Take India as an example. Along with China, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Albania Armenia, Georgia, Serbia and Azerbaijan, India has experienced a decline in the number of female births in relation to male births. An untold millions of girls are missing from the world’s population of women.

Prior to the amniocentesis procedure developed in the nineteen seventies, midwives at a family’s request would snuff out the life of an unwanted baby girl or a relative would abandon her in a field or wood. (The government now has established crèches to receive babies that parents do not want. Almost all have been baby girls.)

With the invention of the ultrasound scanner, especially the portable model, in the nineteen eighties along with improved record-keeping, the number of abortions of female fetuses has dramatically increased. The threat of violence by their husbands or the threat that the husband will seek a second or third wife forces women to have abortions. Numerous ways have been found to subvert governmental measures to combat these illegal sex-selected abortions.

Over the decades the practice has impacted the sex ratio to the point that there is an insufficient supply of marriageable women for the number of men looking for wives. Talk about cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face! This turn of events has ignited social unrest, instigated rent-a-wife businesses, and “inflated” the price that a man who “owns” a woman can command. Some women are sold two or three times to subsequent buyers who can profit from the supply and demand syndrome.

As the situation continues, it means that women have less and less chances of gaining enough power within a democratic format to change their status.

Note: The information about India and its femicide practices was taken from a treatise on this subject by Drs. V. Rukmini Rao and Lynette J. Dumble that was undertaken on behalf of ActionAid and the Gramya Resource Center for Women in Andhra Pradesh, India.

** About This Blog
Mary Wentworth - Ma(i)niac in Massachusetts - Having been a Democratic candidate for Congress, a paid organizer in the women’s movement, a “no nuker” (it looks like that is going to be a do-over), a fighter for fair taxes, a vehement opponent of war, now a columnist and author of a political memoir ­ you get the picture ­ I have my opinions.

Are they the same as yours? If not, where do we disagree?  I’m looking forward to hearing from you.