It’s A Girl!

On 9 October 2012, Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen while returning home on a school bus

On 9 October 2012, Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen while returning home on a school bus

In the wake of the brutal beating and gang rape of a woman on a New Delhi bus last week, and the gut-churningly stupid remarks made by highly placed Indian officials and people who should, you’d think, know better, it’s easy to point a finger at India and cluck one’s tongue. Easy to call the place ‘barbaric and uncivilized’, but India is not the only country where things like this happen. It just has a press open enough to report it.

How about the 6-year old raped in Pakistan, who’s parents could not even get her proper medical care?  How about the 9-year old girl ‘awarded’ as ‘compensation in a rape case?

Wait. Do you imagine this is just an Indian Subcontinent issue? How about the Communist Party official in Yongcheng City who raped over 100 girls before finally being caught and prosecuted? Not really all that surprising when even the Shanghai public transit system equates a woman who dresses daringly with someone who has no self-respect.

How about the Indonesian restaurant worker raped by 3 policemen in Penang, Malaysia? How about being raped by a government official in the Philippines?

Wait. What about female protesters in Egypt who have been raped and beaten?

Or the literally thousands of women in the DR Congo who have been murdered, raped and mutilated in the last decade? Or the 60 murdered and dumped women this year alone, in the city of Juarez, Mexico?

How about the 14-year old girl shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan for promoting girl’s education?

And, let’s face it, the ‘civilized’ West doesn’t come off looking that good either. There’s the whole Jimmy Savile debacle in the UK, and the former International Monetary Fund chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn seems to feel that women are commodities, either for raping, groping or pimping.

The world, on the whole, is not very nice to women. In a lot of places, even women don’t value the lives of other women. In Asia alone, it is estimated that there are 100 million females ‘missing‘ from the population. Sex-selective abortions are actively practiced in every country where it is culturally more appealing to have a boy than a girl. As genocides go, this outstrips every other genocide in human history.

It does help to have governmental policies that afford equality of legal status to both genders. It helps when law enforcement are educated about rape and violence against women. It helps when countries promote women’s education and advancement. It helps when prevailing organized religions recognize females as just as valuable and important as males, and just as deserving of freedom and autonomy.

And piling all the blame onto men doesn’t help. Because those men are being raised by mothers who aren’t educating them to be respectful of women either.  It takes generations for cultures to change anti-female attitudes.

But it all starts in one single moment. The moment a girl child is born anywhere in the world. It’s either a moment of celebration or disappointment. That one, single emotional response begins the ball rolling.