Why female feticide threatens the social order.

Sabu George, a Delhi-based researcher, has spent the past quarter-century exposing what he calls “the worst kind of violence” in Indian history—the elimination of millions of unborn girls. He regards it as nothing less than genocide and describes the first few months in the womb as “the riskiest part of a woman’s life cycle in India.”

For the last two decades, reports have consistently illustrated the extent of the problem. After investigators uncovered 400 pieces of bone believed to be of female fetuses, reporters gave graphic details: “Last September,” wrote Raekha Prasad and Randeep Ramesh in The Guardian, “remains of dozens of babies were exhumed from a pit outside an abortion clinic in Punjab. To dispose of the evidence, acid was used to melt the flesh and then the bones were hammered to smithereens.”

Although it’s easy to relegate this story to the remote regions of the developing world, India is representative of a global problem of epic proportion. In the year of the #MeToo movement, the practice of female feticide offers us a powerful depiction of the institutionalization of violence against women. Sex-selective abortions perpetrate violence against the most vulnerable, unseen victims. What emerges is an alarming picture of mass termination: prenatal offspring, aborted for no other reason than they happen to be female.

According to a study by The Lancet, the toll in India averages half a million fetuses each year, with some regions of India faring particularly badly. Although accurate figures are very difficult to compile, estimates suggest that “among the stock of women that could potentially be alive in India today, over 25 million are ‘missing.’” …

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