‘Of genocidal proportions’ … this is the term the U.N. children’s agency, Unicef, uses to describe the 50 million women missing in India as a result of sex-selected abortion, infanticide, and trafficking. The time is now to address this moral abhorrence, but especially as the world marks International Women’s Day on March 8.
This secular holiday embodies a basic Christian belief: that women are of inherent worth and value, and regarded as equal to men in the eyes of God.
While murdering baby girls and children with disabilities is an ancient practice, technology such as ultrasounds and amniocentesis via a simple blood test have encouraged sex-selective abortion. And population growth tightens economies pressuring women into thinking they must do the unthinkable with infant girls.
Pregnancy-related services for women in India advertise, “Better 500 now than 50,000 later.” These slogans are commonplace and suggest that to spend 500 rupees on a test to confirm the gender of a fetus today is better than spending many times more for a dowry later (“The Other Half – Where have all the girls gone,” The Hindu, April 16, 2011). Statements such as this one perpetuate age-old oppression, abuse and discrimination of women.
Statistics tell a disturbing story. India’s 2011 census reports the sex ratio of the population as 109 boys to 100 girls. Not a huge margin on the surface, but it translates to 7 million less girls than boys.
With the shortage of females, kidnapping and trafficking has increased exponentially. “Tens of thousands of girls disappear in India every year. They are sold into prostitution, domestic slavery, and marriage,” according to the BBC (“The Girls Stolen from the Streets of India,” BBC magazine Jan. 8, 2013).
China’s one-child policy coupled with gender discrimination and resulting in sex-selective abortion has also created a shortage of women for that country. Chinese boys now outnumber Chinese girls by upwards of 32 million. Trafficking is rampant. Hopelessness abounds. Justice is scarcely visible.
Unfortunately the dearth of women in Asia results in increased exploitation, rape, domestic violence, and all other forms of gender discrimination. It’s a vicious cycle that’s likely to get worse in coming years.
So what to do? When the Gospel impacts the hearts of people nothing is left unchanged. Throughout the New Testament Jesus affirmed, accepted, exhorted, and encouraged women. He lifted them up to a place of equality and honor in a society that regarded them as little more than property.
Thankfully, men, women and children are coming to know Jesus in unprecedented numbers across Asia.
The cause of valuing girls and women is something Jesus took seriously. Through Global Mission’s whole life discipleship programs for girls and boys in developing countries, an intentional worldview is instilled based upon respect and integrity. These children – many of them at risk to repeat generations of brokenness and faulty belief systems about themselves and the world – are learning that life is sacred because human beings are created in the image of God. And now He is a God they love and know personally.
Through a creative program involving spiritual formation, character development, and life skills, verses such as, “…nor is there male and female, you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galations 3:28) come alive and hold deep meaning. Children learn that in the eyes of Jesus every day is International Women’s Day.
As the world celebrates this occasion, please consider giving generously and joining the cause of caring for the hearts and souls of this next generation. The future of an entire gender may depend upon our actions. Your contribution goes directly to the cause and puts faith, hope, and love into the hearts of children.