Our oldest son is wealth of insights into culture. At his school there are a handful of foreigners (my son included), but mostly it’s an all-national school which we like right now. When he comes home I like to get as much information from him about his day–I’m a nosy momma. Typically, he will walk in and I’ll ask about his day and he says “fine.” Fine is a rather broad description, so I have to dig deeper to discover any useful information about his day.
Today, he was telling us about how he shared his cookies with a friend. We had met this friend before out at a mall, so I was glad my son was sharing with him instead of eating six cookies himself. He then told us about this friend (a boy) who has a sister that doesn’t go to school. Hum. Having met their family and I know she is school age, even older than our son’s friend. He then told us about other friends who have siblings that don’t go to school. In the class there are 18 boys and 7 girls and this is not unusual. It is not uncommon because boys are more valued, over all, than girls. So if you can only afford to send one to a nice school, then it’s a no-brainer, you send your son because some day when you are old, he will take care of you. At least that’s the hope.
So maybe I’m overly sensitive to this issue. But I like to think God puts things in our path and on our hearts for a reason. I can’t imagine being a girl in a family where you know your brother will get more opportunities than you. What a depressing feeling. What’s also hard to understand are the frequent stories of the abuses that unwanted girls endure. Newborns left to die in trash heaps, abandoned because they were not born the desired gender. And that’s just one of the ways people rid themselves of a perceived problem girl-child. The numbers don’t lie and the problem is getting worse instead of better.
“The latest census shows that the gap between the number of girls per 1,000 boys up to the age of six has widened to 914, a decrease from 927 a decade ago, at the 2001 census.” Taken from The Guardian, 25 May, 2011
The chasm between how many females are born and males is much wider (and widening) than it should naturally be here and while it is widely acknowledged that even though it is illegal to find out the gender of a child before birth it still happens and many female babies are aborted. That breaks my heart because I am a woman, I have a daughter who I love dearly, and the world would be missing out on so much beauty, creativity and mercy and fun if she were not in it. Boys and girls bring different gifts to this world and both are equally special and equally needed. It’s perfectly designed that way.
I have been reading Captivating by Stasi and John Eldridge, which probably explains why my son’s comments struck my heart today. What a great book for me right now as I ponder being a woman. Highly recommended for women of all ages and I’m sure I will have more thoughts as I read along.
Anyway, of course this is a big country and there are plenty of people who value women and girls, granted. Still there is a huge problem that cannot be ignored and certainly there are some trying to address the issue. But it requires the thinking of millions be changed. No small feat to be sure.
At the end of the day I wish I could take some of these neglected little girls from the streets home and clean them up, put a pretty dress on them and tell them they are beautiful because God created them and loves them for who they are. That not being possible and with a problem so big, how does one begin?