In a recent Associated Press article, Despite Economic Growth, India Lets Its Girls Die, Muneeza Naqvi tells the story of how Indian society allows baby girls to die from neglect and starvation.
Despite laws against such things as sex-selective abortions and growing economic power, India continues its war against women and female children. Children under six are 914 girls for every 1000 boys, a decrease from the 2001 ratio of 924 girls for every 1000 boys notwithstanding India’s remarkable economic growth in the same decade.
That’s the national average. As reported by 2001 Government of India Census, some regions are even worse.
The ratio in Haryana state is 861 women to every 1000 men. The Union Territory (UT) of Daman & Diu near the northwest coast has 710 women for every 1000 men. The lowest ratio in the country is the district of Daman in Daman & Diu: 591 women to every 1000 men. More than 40% of the females in this district have been murdered.
Indeed, tens of millions of women in India are missing because they have been murdered.
Anna Sebba writes that 10,000,000 female babies were aborted in the last 20 years alone. That’s half a million baby girls killed before they are born every year. Female infanticide has killed millions more at birth, and millions more die of neglect before they reach six years of age. More are murdered as young girls and adults by a society sick with a condition that can only be described as a revulsion of female.
The New York Times reports that the total number of “missing” women in India is in excess of 50,000,000. When the Nazis murdered six million Jews in Europe during World War II, the world called it the Holocaust. What do we call the murder of 50 million females in India? Nothing! The world seems to neither notice nor care!
New laws and a better economy may help to slow the gendercide (although the current trend is not encouraging) but it will not stop it. Ingrained practices die hard. While the unspeakable Hindu practice of Sati – widow burning – was outlawed in 1829, it still happens, almost two centuries later, in rural areas of India. In 1996, India outlawed the use of ultrasound technology for the purpose of sex determination in unborn babies. Yet fifteen years later half a million female babies are still being aborted every year.
While politicians have outlawed sex selection abortions and some Indian states have provided economic incentives to raise baby girls, nothing has been able to stop this modern holocaust. At the announcement of India’s recent census results, Home Secretary G.K. Pallai admitted,“Whatever measures that have been put in over the last 40 years have not had any impact.”
To understand why this practice is so recalcitrant, we must recognize that the root of the problem is not economic or political. Rather, it is an idea: male is superior to female. This idea is embedded, to a greater or lesser extent, in a majority of cultures of the world. And the cultural story is often stronger than laws and economics.
Culture is at the heart of the behavior and life of any nation. Culture is derived from cult – the religion or belief system a people. Hindu cultural practices flow from from the Hindu cult, the belief system of reincarnation. In this system of thought, a man who sins greatly in this life is punished by returning as a woman in the next reincarnation. If the woman has any hope to come back in the next life as a male, she must suffer in this life. Such a belief system necessarily forms a culture that demeans and abuses women.
A Hindu couple hoping to conceive will often recite the verse from the Ardaveda Veda I.2.3: “Let a female child be born somewhere else; here let a male child be born.” When a female child is born the community mourns the birth. The poem, Like Mother, Like Daughter?, recited at the birth of a daughter expresses the lament:
On my birth there was no singing
But sadness filled the air;
No people came to visit
To bless, or give child-care.
“Kill her, kill her, kill her,”
Was what my father said:
A world-wide declaration
Because I was a girl.
You are a girl, a misery;
You’ll eat me out, you’re drudgery!
My mother wept in silence
As only mothers do;
Pitying my misfortune
That she had suffered too.
India needs a new narrative. She needs a new cult (worship system) to shape a new culture. Only the worship of the Creator God, who made women (as well as men) imago Dei, can transform such thinking and practice. God’s image gives all women intrinsic worth as human beings. As such they are to be accorded equal justice before the laws of a country. Their uniqueness as female, as distinct from male, is to be equally valued and joyously celebrated.
From this belief system, the culture is re-formed to honor the dignity of women at every stage of life from conception to natural death. Godly culture celebrates the birth of each daughter and enjoys her uniqueness and beauty as she contributes to the life of her community and nation.
- Darrow Miller
[See Darrow's book, Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity and Divine Role of Women in Building Healthy Cultures, for more on this subject.]