Monday, May 28, 2012

This Breaks My Heart

As the proud father of a little girl who I love dearly, it is heart breaking to read stuff like this about a country that could become a solid friend and ally:

"New-born girl found in dustbin, second in a week," announced a recent headline in the Hindustan Times. The article was datelined Gurgaon but it could have come from one of many Indian cities. Thousands of baby girls are abandoned each year, an extension of sex selection practices that, according to a 2011 study in The Lancet, include half a million abortions in India every year. Most abandoned babies die, but a few are rescued. While the statistics on the number of babies killed or abandoned at birth are murky -- the vast majority go unreported -- the radically skewed sex ratio of children under six years of age is an inescapable indication.

This is horrible. Yet the article annoyingly tries to appear even-handed and even non-judgmental by saying the problem exists--if "with less severity"--in the United States and other developed countries. I'm not aware of that problem so I click through to their source for my country. Is there a sex-selection baby-killing epidemic here?

What’s common to these cases is a pregnancy where the mother fears the consequences if the pregnancy is revealed,” said Kendall Marlowe, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. “As a result, these overwhelmed parents felt they had no option but to discard their child. The ‘safe haven’ law gives parents in crisis an option to do the responsible thing.”

The linked article notes only stories of baby girls abandoned yet despite all the statistics given, none breaks the babies down by sex. An odd thing if girls are the victims here.

Yet being aware of this as a state-level policy question during my time working for our state legislature, I knew in my own state the issue was abandonment--not murder--and from not wanting any baby at all rather than not wanting a baby girl. It is tragic. It is not in the same league, however.

So why soften the sting of calling India on this terrible record by trying to pretend we all struggle with this issue?

We rightly condemn communist China for similar practices. Democratic India should not get a pass on this for being a friend, budding ally, or developing country. I'm lucky to have a son and a daughter who both fill me with pride. Indian society needs to open doors for their women to thrive so that baby girls aren't viewed as disappointments and killed for their sin of being born.

My daughter is an American girl. I'm pretty sure she'll grow up to beat down any of those sex-selected boys who are viewed as the best thing possible.

UPDATE: Although we are perhaps simply too nuanced to do anything as crude as kill or abandon girls who are born. Bastards.