Why Value A Girl Child

This English literature student landed herself with Salt Initiatives, an NGO and they assigned her with their ‘Let Her Live’ campaign which ensures the dignity and equality of women and girl children. Being in Delhi for three years has told her and made her aware of the violence against women. She considered it like any other evil practices which has been a part of the society and did not have a serious stand about it. Her leaders at the organization gave her orientation about female foeticide and their ideas on curbing the practice. Still it did not occur to her that it is a matter of grave concern and it is in the hands of the youth to bring an end to genocide. For her, girls have always been equal to boys. Her dad celebrated her birth by distributing ladoos to people who came to see her 22 yrs back. She was encouraged to be independent and bold from a young age. Her education was taken care of and all facilities provided. She simply could not understand why other parents from the same background like hers aborted the female foetus. What made them to reject the female child? Why this rejection of the female gender?

The climax is that she has found herself aligned with the cause and campaign. Reading about the newspaper reports on female foeticide, reflections on the ‘Dr Horror’ story in Beed, Maharashtra published in “The Week” magazine and interactions with the youth have made her hear the burden of the silent cry that is taking away the lives of millions of unborn girls. But it was not these that aroused the burden in her. It was an experience which she and her friend encountered in the Delhi metro. The experience was not the usual ‘touching’ nor ‘staring’ but unexpected physical encounter. What shocked us was the smile on the face of the 40 plus man. The smile paralyzed my body and I was not able to react. Still shivering in the metro, my heart was screaming, “Are we not valued”?  While observing the many campaigns on female foeticide, I noticed a similarity in all. They seem to miss a significant aspect in promoting the concern. Why value a girl child? It matters in a society like ours which has a heightened son preference.

Before we get lost in shouting slogans, making placards, sharing pages on social websites to signing petitions for 50 million missing campaigns, save the girl child campaign and clicking many shares to spread awareness of the gravity of female foeticide- phew!- let’s step back and reflect for a moment. Not on how we can change or what we need to do about it but on what we think of the girl child. What’s our attitude towards a girl child? How do we see her? The Indian society values a boy child for his strength, courage, masculine abilities, as bearer of his father’s soul and as the breadwinner. A girl child is devalued and seen as a burden. She is not considered as of any use, but as an object to be “thrown” off with a price tag. This testifies the reason for the increase in rape incidents which are becoming brutal and taking lives not yet fully lived. As I write this I get news that the 23 year old victim of the recent gang rape in the capital city, wrote on paper “Mama, I want to live”. She still desires to live despite the brutality inflicted upon her. Maybe because she realizes the value of life. What about us? Do we realize the value of a girl’s life?

A child whether a boy or a girl is a creation of God. While assigning tasks the Creator did not make a list with “female” “male” division. Both are equal in His eyes. “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them *.”  He blessed them to be fruitful and gave authority over all other creatures on earth. What more evidence do we need that men and women are equally valuable!

A girl child is a human being. The value of a girl child is value of human life. She is intelligent, has reasoning ability, and is imaginative and creative. It’s not some species on the verge of extinction we are talking about. We are talking of one half of mankind.  Our campaigns should encourage and foster the independent thought in girl children. This enables a wholistic view with potential to change the cultural attitudes and mindsets. Let’s not limit or voice the value of a girl child to the days set apart on the calendar but make it a point to include it in our conversations, prayer meetings and our lifestyle.

*Genesis 1:27