Every year, more girls are murdered in India and China than are born in the United States. An estimated 200 million girls are missing from the world due to abandonment, murder, or trafficking because of their gender. Gendercide, the systematic and methodical killing of girls due to their gender, has been a huge human rights issue for a long time.

Even though countries around the world are fighting for global female empowerment, one of the worst crimes against women is being largely ignored. The rampant slaughter of girls in India and China shows the grave impacts of basing a human being’s value on their status, wealth, or the monetary gain they have to offer. Families in India base the value of their children on whether they add or take away from their families status and finances. Similarly, China views females as less important than males because of their societal gender roles and one child policy. The world is turning a blind eye to the girls who are treated like property and stripped of their value and dignity.

Because India measures people’s worth by their social status and financial well-being, gendercide is rampant in India. This worldview is instilled in India through their dowry system. When families marry off their daughter, they have to pay a high dowry of money, possessions, or property to their daughter’s husband. When someone’s son gets married, they gain money, possessions, or property from his wife’s family.

Sadly, families view their daughters as a financial strain on their family and abort them because they would rather keep their money and property than raise a daughter. They’d rather have a son because they can gain money instead of losing it. They look at children simply through the lens of what they have to offer them financially and socially. In the documentary, It’s a Girl: The Three Deadliest Words in the World, a mother openly talks about how she continued to have girls instead of boys, so she strangled her daughters. Other mothers and fathers will wet a cloth and put it over their babies face so they cannot breathe and suffocate to death.

In India, the largest cause of gendercide is female feticide, which is “the sex-selective abortion of females.” To counteract this issue, India made it illegal to administer a sex-determination test. However, this law is not being enforced. In fact, the most prosperous doctors in India are successful because they accept illegal payments to determine the sex of a child while he or she is in the womb so that the parents of the child can decide if they want to abort their child. The decision of whether or not to abort their child is based entirely on the child’s gender.  

The crisis of devaluing women in India and China does not only apply to babies, but also to their mothers. In It’s a Girl, there is a story about a woman who was abused and locked in a room without food or water because she refused to take a sex determination test to discover the gender of her twins. Three days later, her husband and mother-in-law fed her a cake baked with eggs, to which she was allergic. Their goal was to make her sick so they could take her to the hospital and pay the doctor to illegally determine the genders of her children. After her husband discovered both of the babies were girls, he pushed her down a flight of stairs and locked her in a room. Severely injured and bleeding, she escaped to her parent’s house where she delivered her two baby girls. She had avoided going to her family before then, because having an unsuccessful marriage damaged her and her family’s social status, which is of utmost importance in India.

There are many different causes for the deep-rooted prejudice against women in China. First, a family’s bloodline passes through their son since daughters “marry out” of their families. Parents also rely on their sons to financially take care of them when they are older. If they can only have one child, they want a son to guarantee they will be provided for in their later years. Gender roles in China also play a part in the son-preference in China. Traditionally, girls are encouraged to prioritize their family instead of their career. These ideas are being challenged to an extent, however, the beliefs and the consequences of these beliefs are still prevalent and grievously problematic.

Due to the limited number of children Chinese families are allowed to have, and the disadvantage women have in China, families would prefer to have sons. Even if a family is open to having a daughter, the one-child policy can still force them to abort that child. Anyone in China can turn a woman in for being illegally pregnant and she will be forced to have an abortion. China’s’ appalling view of women can be summarized in the loathsome Chinese saying that is declared in the faces of young girls, “You are only a girl. You are spilt water.”

The situation in India and China shows the dire consequences of not valuing human life. The murder of females based on their gender has caused such a wide gap in the ratio of females to males in China that it has created a market for sex traffickingprostitution, and child bride kidnapping. Baby girls are often stolen or purchased from families so other families can secure them as future brides for their sons.

One often overlooked factor of gendercide in India is religion. The Economist published an article titled “Gendercide: The Worldwide War on Baby Girls” that focused on the contribution of sex-determination tests on gendercide. In response to this article, Edgar Dahl, who works for the Institute for Medical Ethics, University of Muenster, Germany, argued, “One of the most important reasons for preferring sons over daughters is religion. According to Hinduism, a man who has failed to sire a son cannot achieve salvation. Only a male descendant can light the funeral pyre and ensure the redemption of the departed soul. Thus, the fault does not lie with science but with religion.”

Having a standard that grants or recognizes a human beings value is important. Genesis 1:27 declares that humans are made in the image of God. This standard grants every human being infinite intrinsic value outside of extrinsic societal measurement of worth. This unique Christian perspective offers something increasingly necessary that no other religion provides – an indisputable standard for every human’s value. Without this standard, people try and fail to find a way to assign worth to humans that have been disadvantaged by their societies. Because these cultures let their monetary benefit to society dictate their worth, girls are disproportionately aborted, killed as infants, and neglected throughout their life.

Imagine living as a woman in India or China – to simply be alive is a miracle. But every single day the girls living in these countries are murdered, aborted, exploited, trafficked, stolen, and abused. They live their lives being told they are not valuable. They are ignored and their opportunities are limited. Their friends, or even they themselves, might callously tell someone the story of how they suffocated or strangled their daughter because she was unwanted.

This issue needs to be addressed because every human needs to be told they are valuable and treated like they are. The epidemic of not valuing human life seeps into other cultures, like the United States, through abortion regardless of gender. China and India show a horrendous example of what this can lead to – a gender, race, or subset of people being specifically mistreated. No one should ever be killed for being female. We must fight againist gendercide and sex-selective abortion.

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The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Human Defense Initiative.