Friday, August 5, 2011

Where Have All The Girls Gone?

Debra Saunders had a disturbing piece up at the San Francisco Chronicle recently. In the midst of all of the haggling, blaming, and name calling going on at the Hill, this may not seem like an exciting, gotcha kind of story, but it is an important one, and highlights a situation that will have a long term, global impact.

Here is the story, as detailed in Saunders' piece,
In This Brave New World, Girls Disappear
The world is becoming unbalanced. In pockets across the globe, women are giving birth to too many boys. In China, the sex ratio is 121 boys to 100 girls. In India, it's 112 to 100. Sex selection also is a force in the Balkans, Armenia and Georgia. In her eye-opening book, "Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men," journalist Mara Hvistendahl estimates that ultrasound and abortion have "claimed over 160 million potential women and girls - in Asia alone." That's more than the entire female population of the United States.

If you think that scarcity makes women more valuable, you are right - but that does not mean females benefit. As "surplus men" have trouble finding mates, young girls are forced into prostitution. Others are forced into arranged marriages. On Taiwan's eBay, Hvistendahl finds three Vietnamese women for sale for $5,400.

Those women who do well economically in the new order sadly are more likely to abort daughters in favor of sons.

Is this not disconcerting? Not only are girls being aborted in greater numbers by choice, but the decreased numbers of girls does not translate to girls being treated better. Not even close, unfortunately. Most disturbing is that women are buying into this mindset, and how that is made manifest.

Saunders points out, though, that this isn't just bad for women:
The results are equally bleak for men. Many boys grow up knowing they are unlikely to marry and start a family. In two years, 1 in 10 Chinese men will lack a female counterpart. The Chinese have a term - fenquing for "angry youth" - to describe the legions of young men likely to grow old alone. They find release in places like the Rising Sun Anger Release Bar, "where for the price of a few drinks, customers can pummel one of the bar's hired hands." In that equation, both men are losers.

In three decades, Vietnam - a poor country that provides brides and kidnapped prostitutes to affluent overly male nations - will have 4.3 million surplus men.

Holy cow. The difference the shortage of women will make in such a brief period of time is astonishing.

Saunders touches on the path of good intentions, whose result seem to fulfill the old adage paves the path to hell:
Hvistendahl finds no shortage of villains in this story. There's China's one-child policy, which resulted in untold forced abortions. Western governments and charities threw money at family-planning efforts to stem population growth in Asia, with little concern to the methods - forced sterilizations and abortions - employed. Then there are the willing participants - doctors, nurses and parents - who choose to engage in female feticide. French demographer Christophe Guilmoto recalls an Indian woman who was livid because she had aborted a boy after a doctor misdiagnosed the gender of her fetus.

I was struck at the distortion of good intentions. Family planning does promote prosperity, while overpopulation is unhealthy and destabilizing. Researchers develop technologies to help families. But in a world where technology moves faster than ethical thinking, giving would-be parents the gender they prefer is good business. So you get fertility clinics like the Los Angeles outfit that advertises, "Be certain your next child will be the gender you're hoping for."

Of course, sex-selection abortions happen in America, often among immigrant families. Hvistendahl reports that 35 percent of Asian American pregnancies result in abortion. [snip]

Oh, yes - definitely "good intentions" paved the way to this hell, which affects girls on a massive scale. And the numbers are just staggering.

Saunders concludes with the following:
[snip] Canadian sociologist Sharada Srinivasan has another suggestion. As she told Hvistendahl, at some point, feminists have to define sex selection as a human rights abuse. That would be a good start. (Click here to read the rest.)

Yes, it would be a good place to start - it is a human rights abuse, and the sooner we start dealing with it as such, the better.

I will leave you as Saunders did in her piece, with the following quotes. These should get your blood a-pumping: Thoughts On Parenthood

"You can choose whether to be a parent, but once you choose to be a parent, you cannot choose whether it's a boy or girl, black or white, tall or short."

- Delhi gynecologist Puneet Bedi

"Better 500 rupees now than 500,000 later."

- Mumbai ultrasound ad

"Less than $5 invested in population control is worth $100 invested in economic growth."

- President Lyndon B. Johnson, in a 1965 speech in San Francisco
Copyright © 2011 by Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy


Anonymous said...

A very sad, but very needed article, thank-you Rev. Amy.

I am trying to think of a culture, that celebrates the joy of birth(including adoption from that birth) and the relationship that brings forth this wonderful occassion; regardless of the sex of the child. I realize I am thinking a time during my twenties, when we had no real means of finding out the sex of a child, and when the greatest outcome for my own pregnancy was for a healthy child.The nursery was not pink or blue, but greens and yellows, so as to allow this beloved child to simply be.

I consider what has changed since that time, here in the United States and the world over. To begin with women have been devalued further into either body parts, that promote sexual pleasure or a war strategy to be used against a nation by initiating mass rape of the female population(think Kosovo-Congo, etc) or as a product to be sold on the market to either serve a pedophile/pimp/ or slave owner as a marketing means, and as a whipping post for anger, to be murdered, beated and finally as a slave to exist to serve the male of specfic cultures steeped in a religious tradition that requires it.

To be sure, these scenarios for women have been around for as long as we have; what has changed is the acceptance of it; with nary a law a bill here and there and a pet project for a group to throw some money at. There is very little concerted effort outside of Amnesty international to address this issue; but what does it have to do with the infanticide of future little girls?

To this day in some countries women are subjected to rejection and abandonment, and sometimes death for giving birth to a girl.

In some places a woman must consider what future their child will have based on their sex; where rape is common place for little children; o r the child is seen as a yoke upon the family because of the family they live in, if it is a family in a poor country, that allows for the selling of children as a commodity.

In other places a female child can only bring either honor or discrace to the family, where a male child will rarely have to walk that same path.

Yet elsewhere, female children are not allowed to be educated. Intellect is not needed for the life before them. Women do not hold high political office, as they are not treated the same by those supporting the current political climate. Women are subjected to further scrutiny than their male counterparts, for everything and anything to do with governing of a country.

What this has to do with aborting baby girls is one singular fact IMHO- women are not considered to be actual, living, breathing, contributing human beings(for all the reasons and more than I listed above). Sex identification of a fetus has only pronouced this issue. Instead of adopting out baby girls, they are destroyed, simply because they are female.

I am still trying to think of a culture, that celebrates the joy of birth(including adoption from that birth) and the relationship that brings forth this wonderful occassion; regardless of the sex of the child. I can no longer give a single culture credit for this, not even my own, where murder of pregnant women is one of the leading causes of death for women, right here at home. I will not blame men as a whole or women either, as we are all to blame for allowing sexism to this degree to be so easily accepted. If this were a race of people, Amendments would be made(they have),wars
would be fought(they have), but for some reason, still there is not battle cry to wake up a species that insists on destroying half of itself. It has not changed for centuries and will not, until forced to by comprehension from both males and females that life of either sex is to be cherished; men are not created as a tool to be killed in war and women are not a walking body part meant to only reproduce males.

Anonymous said...

(Rev. Amy, FYI-Both this comment and the last were posted at NQ)

I feel I need to add this; the reason for my Avatar; as a reminder to me of my duty to my grandaughter. This isn't to say that I do not love my grandson as much, I do. I am a female, and I am a role model for my grandaughter, and I feel I am honored and bound to cultivate her being to the highest and most positive level I can as a female, to encourage her to be a strong female to be there to support her as a female, to keep her as far away as I can from identifying herself as a cultural assigned stereotype; I will not allow her to fall into the cracks. It is my duty as a woman to keep the path as an example for her, as only another female can, To cherish her first because she is a human being, and understand that she and her brother share that value, equally. To never settle for anything less nor let the culture, a religion or another person assign her value to her. She will learn to value this in herself, for herself, thus be able to value others outside of herself, because they are human beings.

Stray Yellar Dawg? said...

Sad beyond belief.

I really wish there was something else I could say. :~(

Mary Ellen said...

I agree with everything Katmoon said, and would like to add that we are seeing more and more in this country the sexual exploitation of our very young female children. Look at the clothes that are being marketed for them, the shows like "Toddlers and Tiara's" where they dress little girls up as if they were adult beauty queens. It's just sick! And to make it worse, it is the mother's of these young female children who are teaching their girls that in order to be beautiful, you must be sexy for your man. What they should be doing is stressing the importance of getting a solid education and working toward a career in the science, medical, engineering etc. fields. How can women break the glass ceiling if they are being held back by their own mothers????

Oh...and a while back, during the big Weiner scandal, I happened to do a little research on how many women in office were ever censured or punished for sexual exploits while in office. Not one. Nada. Zilch. Not only that, there were no women who ever left office due to a sexual scandal. Go figure.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Katmoon, what incredible comments on this very disturbing topic. Thank you so much. You are absolutely spot on.

And I understand completely abt your choice of avatar. It makes complete sense to me, and in no way devalues how much you love your grandson. The reality is that, in the USA and around the world, women are still seen as less than. It is the sad reality in which we live...

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Mary Ellen, yes, you are absolutely right. The way little girls are secualized in this country is just sick.

What a surprise abt women in Congress - NOT. Here we just had yet another Congressman, Wu, resign because he came on to the 18 yr old daughter of one of his campaign contributors. What is wrong with these people??

SYD said it - all of this is "sad beyond belief."