She is crying. I hear a regular and booming heartbeat, accompanied by the sound of her breathing. There are ten fingers, ten toes and a head full of hair. I am grateful. These are the thoughts that every parent should think when they are handed their baby girl for the very first time. Unfortunately, not every baby girl is exposed to this kind of love and affection when she is first born. For many baby girls, the sentence “it’s a girl” can be more like a death sentence.
Gendercide is “defined as the systematic elimination of a gender,” generally due to cultural reasons. These reasons can include “a social preference for male, financial strains, or superstition.” For example, in India, parents have gone to great lengths to ensure they do not have a girl. It has been reported that 5 million female fetuses are aborted each year. Devastatingly, 1.5 million baby girls are killed by their first birthdays; they are thrown into rivers, strangled, left in garbage dumps or killed at birth. There are 37 million more men in China than there are women. The U.N. roughly estimates that between 113 million and 200 million women are demographically “missing” in the world today because of gendercide.
What solutions are there to end the practice of killing baby girls? Recently, Great Britain voted to ban sex-selective abortions. NGOS, like Invisible Girl Project, have created help centers and shelters to provide food, medical aid and protection to young girls who are at risk of being abandoned or killed. Although these solutions seem like small steps towards ending this vicious cycle, what legal solutions are there?
Does this constitute a human rights violation that the international community can interfere with the sovereign rights of countries like India or China? What if an end was put to the “1-child policy?” Would this change the public’s mind and social norms or has the damage already been done?