ADELE BUTLER – Women of Spirit: China's Unwanted Girls

 

ADELE BUTLER – Women of Spirit

 

 

 

China’s Unwanted Girls

 

Today marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day and this morning I heard on The Current that there has been some progress in women’s fight for equality but there is still much to be done. I just read the same thing on Yahoo News.

“The last century has seen an unprecedented expansion of women’s legal rights and entitlements,” Bachelet said, pointing to virtually universal voting rights for women, major inroads for women in professions from which they were banned, laws penalizing domestic violence in two-thirds of the world’s nations, and U.N. Security Council recognition of sexual violence as a deliberate tactic of war.

But Bachelet, who became the first executive director of UN Women in January, said that despite this progress, “the hopes of equality expressed on that first International Women’s Day are a long way from being realized.”

Girls are still less likely to be in school than boys, almost two-thirds of illiterate adults are women, and every 90 seconds a woman dies in pregnancy or due to childbirth-related complications despite the knowledge and resources to make births safe, she said, and women continue to earn less than men for the same work and have unequal inheritance rights and access to land.

Despite some high-profile advances, Bachelet said, only 28 women are heads of state or government and just 8 per cent are peace negotiators. Last week, the Inter-Parliamentary reported that while the number of women in legislatures reached an all-time high of 19.1 per cent in 2010, “the target of gender balance in politics is still a distant one.”

Cracking the glass ceiling also remains an uphill struggle for women in business, especially getting into boardrooms and heading major companies.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said in a report Monday that women farmers also face serious discrimination (http://ca.news.yahoo.com/international-womens-day-marks-100th-anniversary-equality-still-20110307-210800-722.html).

One guest on The Current said that instead of focusing on what might be deemed a patriarchal society, focus on the fact that more men are choosing to stay at home and raise the kids while their wives work. Men are taking “paternity leave”. Also, the reason for the wage difference could be due to the fact that women are choosing to stay home and raise their children or are working part-time. Women are more flexible when it comes to working hours than men. A woman is more likely to work part-time.

While we should celebrate the accomplishments of women over the years, there is still so much that needs to be done. A few minutes ago, my fiancé called and told me some very disturbing news that brought tears to my eyes. I had to force myself not to cry. He said that in China, there is a stove. It has cold water at the top and hot, boiling water at the bottom. If you are a baby boy, they put you in the cold water and wash you off but if you are a baby girl, they put you in the hot, boiling water and then they cover it over. This contraption was described as two vanity bases. It is disguised as a piece of furniture and the people paint it in whatever color they choose. Most villages in China have it and it is used to kill baby girls.

When is this barbaric practice going to stop? When will these villagers stop treating girls as if they don’t matter? These girls can be such a blessing. They can contribute to their society if they were only given the chance. Why can’t these villagers put these unwanted babies up for adoption? There are many families out there who would be more than happy to adopt them—for them the expense is worth it. Money is no object when you are going to provide a little girl with everything she needs—especially the love. Of course it’s not as easy as going for a trip to China, finding an unwanted baby and coming home as a family. It is highly recommended that you take profressional advice from specialist adoption lawyers and adoption agencies (http://www.baby-adoption.co.uk/Adoption_from_China.html).

We need to do something. I read the following story which took place years ago but its impact can still be felt. A morning in the Chinese province of Hunan brings an unimaginable sight of cruelty and horror. Lying in the gutter of a bustling main road is the tiny, twisted body of a dead baby girl. She is naked, surrounded by only dirty pieces of hospital gauze. Buses and bicycles speed past the corpse, spraying it with mud.

Nameless and unwanted, the newborn’s been dumped by the roadside during winter. Few of the locals hurrying by give her a second glance. To them, she is just one of thousands of baby girls abandoned each year as a result of China’s ruthless one-child policy. “I think the baby had just died,” says a woman who was the only person to attempt to rescue the infant. “I touched her skin, and it was warm. Blood was still coming out of her nose.”

To the Chinese authorities, abandoned girls are merely worthless trash. “I called the emergency services, but nobody came,” says the woman who found this latest little victim. (For fear of official reprisal, she wishes to remain anonymous.) “The baby was lying right near the government tax office, so many people in government just walked past.” Eventually, an old man picked up the child, put her in a box, and dropped her in a garbage bin. When the police finally arrived, they showed no interest in investigating her death. They instead arrested the woman who’d tried to save her. “I took some photographs, because it was so terrible; the police were more worried about my pictures than the baby,” she says. The police only released the woman once she handed over her film.

The Chinese government needs to abolish this one-child policy it is so committed to and to protect the rights of baby girls. The parents or families who kill these helpless infants need to be charged with murder. The one-child policy is a violation of human rights. According to Wu Hongli, an outreach worker, “the authorities are making no attempt to implement more humane family planning.” She also laments official apathy toward teaching the population about the equal value of baby girls. “Educational programs have had a lot of success in rural areas, but there is still a vast amount to be done. So many tragedies are ignored every day that it makes me want to cry” (http://www.taliacarner.com/deadnewborningutter.html).

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, let us continue to raise our voices in protest against China’s inhumane one-child policy and the senseless killings of baby girls. We need to do whatever it takes—write to the government, sign petitions. Let us refuse to be silent while these atrocities are taking place. Let us be the voices and advocates for these precious little girls who matter to us.

Adele Butler, A Celebration of Women 2011

 

 RELATED LINKS: 

BBC:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/1506469.stm

 

SHANGHAIIST:   http://shanghaiist.com/2009/10/15/family_puts_female_infant_up_for_sa.php 

 

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