I recently watched a documentary called “It’s A Girl” about gendercide. Gendercide, which is the systematic, mass killings of women and girls, is a topic that continues to be in the shadows. Many people do not know that gendercide continues to happen primarily in India and China. Gendercide includes female feticide, female infanticide, dowry killing, neglect and abandonment.
“It’s a Girl” interviews several women in India who have killed up to 8 of their baby girls. This demonstrates the fact that females are seen as a burden to our society. As I watched the film, I was shocked to see the way these women admitted that they have killed their baby daughters and they also describe their methods used to kill them. In India and China, most families prefer sons over daughters because of the belief that sons bring strength, blessing, and wealth. Daughters are seen as a drain to families and their resources. In India, a daughter’s family is expected to pay an expensive dowry of property and money to the husband’s family. In my opinion, that is just another way of saying that a family pays to give their daughter away.
This cultural preference for boys has severe consequences to daughters. When women find out that they are having a daughter have abortions and women who give birth to daughters usually kill them right after birth. Daughters who do live, usually experience abuse and neglect.
Glory Dass, who is a director of several orphanages in India points out that often times, parents hand over their own daughters. He also mentions that poor families are the ones who typically do not have to have female babies. According to the film, 1 in 4 girls does not live past puberty. The mortality rates of girls between the ages of 1 -5 is 40% higher than boys.
On a more positive note, the film shows a community meeting of women in Haryana, India who have gotten together to fight against gendercide. In these meetings, members talk about various topics such as dowry, female infanticide, and inequality placed upon girls. I was amazed to see the way that these women expressed their thoughts and idea. Their culture claims that women are useless and have nothing to contribute. However, women analyzed the problem and how it has led to bigger problems in terms of gendercide. These women even brought up the issue of male patriarchy. According to one of the women who spoke at the meeting, it is because of men that they are forced to have male children. Although community members continue to believe that if a woman finds out she is having a girl before birth, then the woman should have an abortion. However, it was said that once the baby is born, and if it is a girl, then she should not be killed. The belief that the first child should be a son remains present. But it is also nice to see that women have taken a step to begin combatting this issue.
In 1961, the Indian government outlawed dowry, but continues to be practiced. In India, 100,000 women are murdered each year because they do not give birth to sons or because the husband or his family are unhappy with the dowry they received. Also, the majority of the crimes are never investigated or prosecuted.
The documentary “It’s a Girl” is a powerful film because it reveals the lives that several families have had to endure in order to not be forced to have to kill their own baby girls. In China, these families have had to leave their children behind with their parents so that they can go into the city to make a better living while not getting caught that they have more than one or two children. In 1979, China created the One Child Policy which restricts most Chinese couples to one child. This policy reiterates patriarchy and continues to give lower value to women. However, families who live in rural areas are allowed more than one child if their first child is a daughter. However, if the second child is another girl, they are supposed to have an abortion and try to have a son. Families who violate the law are forced to have abortions or forced sterilization.
The issues that are currently happening in China and India, puts women’s lives at risk. Their human right to live is taken away. Women are seen as inferior and are exposed to the worst conditions. Women’s reproductive rights are being taken away by forcing them to have abortions and forcing them to have children until they give birth to a son. Also, the dowry system contributes to patriarchy because husbands are pretty much paid for taking in their wives. Women are seen as a burden and are given a low value compared to men. Women lack opportunity to education, work and economic self-sufficiency. I encourage everyone to watch this documentary. I learned a lot from it and I hope you all do to.