I am haunted by a newspaper photo of a beautiful young Indian girl holding a sign which says: “I live in a country where a girl is neither safe inside the womb nor outside it.” She was protesting the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman who died of severe internal injuries. What does the rape have to do with abortion? Even though supposedly prohibited, it is estimated that 300,000 to 600,000 female sex selection abortions occur in India each year.
Several major news sources have written about the plight of women in India, most recently Sumnima Udas reporting for CNN. Udas features an Indian woman who was pressured by relatives and neighbors. “They would cry and yell, ‘What are you doing giving birth to a girl? Push her off the roof of the building, kill her! Why are you keeping her?’” The woman was told to get an ultrasound and abort her four daughters.
Udas reports from sources who say daughters and sons are treated very differently by parents. The boys go to better schools and even have better food. Girls are not educated and given menial work in the home. They are forced to marry at an early age and are frequently victims of domestic violence. “A 2012 UNICEF study found more than half of Indian adolescent males think it is justifiable to beat a wife under certain circumstances,” reports Udas. “According to government data, more than 24,000 cases of rape were reported in 2011.” Gang rapes are not uncommon.
Changes are being made in India to address this horrendous brutality to women. “But women’s rights activists say that when discrimination begins even before birth, change will not come easily,” concludes Udas.
Read the CNN article here.