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Gendercide - The war on baby girls

In 1990 it was estimated that 100 million baby girls were missing—victims of abortion, infanticide or neglect—sacrificed by parents who wanted a son. The Economist magazine (and website) has a chilling and sobering investigation of this phenomenon present particularly, but not exclusively, in many Asian countries.

A father is present at a birth in his home, sees his firstborn—a daughter—and cries in disappointment “Useless thing”. A midwife drops the baby into the slops bucket, head first. A journalist is restrained as she tries to intervene, her protest of “That’s a living child” is met with “It’s not a child, it’s a girl baby…girl babies don’t count.”

China has its one-child policy; there is a Hindu saying, “Raising a daughter is like watering your neighbour’s garden”—but it isn’t simply traditional preferences for sons, or draconian one-child policies that fuel this slaughter.

Also tied in is imaging technology which allows you to know the gender of your unborn child. Doctors in India have been using the sick but catchy slogan, “Pay 5,000 rupees today and save 50,000 rupees tomorrow” (the price of a dowry). In one hospital the only girls born after ultrasound scans were those mistakenly identified as boys, or who had a male twin. Technology, which has been lifesaving in some places, has become a death warrant for unborn baby girls in others.

Nor is it confined to the East. The preference for small families and the widespread ease of abortion in the West has left the door wide open for gendercide—the targeting and destruction of a baby simply because of its gender. Last year Sweden legalised the practice of sex-selection abortion, but in how many other places does it happen unofficially? It is a natural extension of the so-called ‘pro-choice’ argument.

This has serious consequences. In the next decade China is looking at 40 million young men for whom there are no brides, almost twice the number of all young men in France, Germany and Britain together. Since young males commit the majority of crime and violence, and since marriage has been a taming and settling ground for them, sociologists fear that these millions of men will prove a significant problem.

In addition, female suicide rates in these countries are higher than anywhere else—many feeling unable to live either with the failure to produce a son, or the knowledge that they have aborted or killed their baby girls.

What does God think of all this? Is he indifferent? Often in scripture he is described as the God of the fatherless—an idea that includes any helpless child. Male and female, both created in his image, are equally valuable to him. He is also a God who will come in frightening judgment on those who slaughter the innocent (Psalm 10, 94). He is not indifferent—he will judge, in his time. In the meantime he holds out the offer of forgiveness through his Son (who, ironically, people cast aside like an unwanted baby because he doesn’t fit in with their agenda).