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If Asifa were the first, the last or the only girl child to be tortured, raped, murdered, discarded like garbage, perhaps the callous that has formed around my life would not exist, and I could weep.  But she is not, and I do not want to weep but to make revolution against the patriarchy.

If Asifa were the first, the last or the only girl child to be tortured, raped, murdered, thrown away  because of her religion, I could weep. Police say the attack on Asifa was rooted in religious politics, with a group of local men planning to scare away the Bakarwals by simply kidnapping a girl. But once they had Asifa, that plan was quickly forgotten. Forensic reports say she had been drugged with anti-anxiety medication, repeatedly raped, burned, bludgeoned with a rock and strangled. Eventually, her corpse was thrown into the forest where it was found a week later.

If that were the reason I could weep.  But that was not the reason, the reason what happened to her happened to her was because she was born female in a world controlled by those who are driven by testosterone.If the goal of the perpetrators was to put fear into the hearts of the Muslim community, well, a bomb would have done that.  No, the choosing of a girl child sends another message.  To the male dominated culture of which she is a member, it says we can do what we want with your possession.  To the females it says we can do what we want with you.

One need only look at the war in Bosnia to see I am right.  Rapes of Muslim, Croatian, and Serbian women have been reported, but the majority of cases involve rapes of Muslim women by Serbian men. The perpetrators of these rapes involve soldiers, paramilitary groups, local police, and civilians. The numbers of incidents range from 20,000 to 50,000.   As with the case of Alfisa, most of these women were gang raped and included torture and sadism. Sufferers were assaulted with guns, broken bottles, or truncheons.

UNICEF writes:

“From [recent] conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina to Peru to Rwanda, girls and women have been singled out for rape, imprisonment, torture and execution. Rape, identified by psychologists as the most intrusive of traumatic events, has been documented in many armed conflicts including those in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cyprus, Haiti, Liberia, Somalia and Uganda.” (Sexual violence as a weapon of war,” UNICEF, at: http://www.unicef.org/)

If what was done to Asifa, were only done to her, perhaps I could weep.  But the sad truth is that there is nothing that was done to her that has not been done to females, regardless of their ages, throughout  history.  Written forty three years ago, Susan Brownmiller’sAgainst Our Will: Men, Women and Rape recounts the history of rape as a weapon, against the enemy and against women. She says:  “The body of the raped female becomes a ceremonial battlefield, a parade ground for the victors trooping of the colors.”( SusanBrownmiller, Against Our Will (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1975), 147)  A women’s humanity disappears and her body is utilized as a vessel of conquest.  Documentation from the Wars of Religion in France reveal the torture, rape and murder of Huguenot women.  During the First World War the German military raped and tortured Belgian and French women. Heather A. Blackburn and Stacey M. Thomas, “Rape Warfare,” 1998-FEB-25, at:http://jrscience.wcp.muohio.edu/)

During WW II the Nazis employed sexual humiliation and rape as well as murder against Jewish women.  Rape took place in concentration and prison camps, as well as in brothels establish in the camps by the Germans.(https://www.usm.edu/gulfcoast/sites/usm.edu.gulfcoast/files/groups/learning-commons/pdf/rape_women_and_war.pdf ).  During the Japanes invasion of Nanking women, even old women and young girls were repeatedly abused and raped by the Japanese in such huge numbers, that that time is today referred to as the “Rape of Nanking.” https://www.facinghistory.org/nanjing-atrocities/judgment-memory-legacy/rape-weapon-war

If Asifa were the only little girl to be murdered and discarded like garbage, I could weep; but the truth of  the matter is that she is simply one amongst a multitude.  In modern  India, Pakistan and China, and so many other places in the world where it is neither noted nor spoken of, it is enough to be conceived a female to be murdered and discarded. Throughout history, across South Asia, untold numbers of infant girls have been murdered by their own families In the modern world, the phenomenon of ultrasounds and gender-selective abortion have become to the slaughter of females what the gas chambers were to the slaughter of Jews.  In India is is estimated that 2,000 female fetuses are aborted each day.  When they are not aborted, they are often killed at birth or neglected after birth.  In an academic paper he published in 2003, Klasen, the chair of development economics at the University of Goettingen in German, asserted that there are perhaps millions of missing girls in this country.  He estimated that 7.8 percent of Pakistani females and 7.9 percent of Indian females are “missing.”  This is reflected in the fact that in the provinces of Punjab. Haryana and Rajasthan, there are now only 800 females for every 1,000 males

Girls who are not killed outright are often abandoned, the lucky ones ending up in orphanages.    A woman named BilquisEdhi who runs an orphanage in Karachi, Pakistan, told the Atlantic that murdered baby girls are sometimes dumped outside her establishment.

If Afisa were the first, the last, the only female child or woman to be raped, brutalized, tortured, maimed, murdered, thrown away, I could weep.  But she is not, and I cannot weep but can only rage and hunger for revolution:  a revolution against patriarchy, against capitalism, against racism, against dehumanization in all its forms.  Regretfully, at the age of 72, I don’t think I will be joining it in my lifetime.

Mary Metzger is a 72 year old retired teacher who has lived in Moscow for the past ten years. She studied Women’s Studies under Barbara Eherenreich and Deidre English at S.U.N.Y. Old Westerbury. She did her graduate work at New York University under Bertell Ollman where she studied Marx, Hegel and the Dialectic. She went on to teach at Kean University, Rutgers University, N.Y.U., and most recenly, at The Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology where she taught the Philosophy of Science. Her particular area of interest is the dialectic of nature, and she is currently working on a history of the dialectic. She is the mother of three, the gradmother of five, and the great grandmother of 2.

http://www.ibtimes.com/deadly-preference-male-offspring-killing-baby-girls-india-http://www.ibtimes.com/deadly-preference-male-offspring-killing-baby-girls-india-pakistan-1406582killing-baby-girls-india-pakistan-1406582http://www.ibtimes.com/deadly-preference-male-offspring-killing-baby-girls-Maria B. Olujic, “Women, Rape, and War: The Continued Trauma of Refugees and Displaced Persons in Croatia,” Anthropology of East Europe Review, Volume 13, No. 1 Spring, 1995; Special Issue: Refugee Women of the Balkans

  1. John Baird, “Rape of Nanking: Remembering the horrors of World War II,” at: http://www.wpi.edu/
  2. Peter Almond, “Feature: Book on WW II rapes upsets Russia,” at: http://www.cdi.org/
  3. Anthony Beevor, “Berlin — The Downfall 1945,” Viking, 2002.
  1. nterestingly, the new Maternal and Child Health Care Law forbids the use of ultrasound).
  2. preference-male-offspring-killing-baby-girls-india-pakistan-1406582http://www.ibtimes.com/deadly-preference-male-offspring-killing-baby-girls-india-pakistan-1406582rnal and Child Health Care Law forbids the use of ultrasound to detect the sex of a fetus. Moreover, regulations forbid sex-selective
  3. abortions, even promising punishment of medical practitioners who violate this provision. However, population statistics at least suggest that these practices continue nonetheless. The Chinese press has reported that the national ratio of male to female births is 114 to 100. One October 1994 survey of births in rural areas put the ratio as high as 117 male births to 100 female. However, these official statistics may actually underestimate the problem in that they may exclude many female births, especially the second or third in a family. Such births are unreported so that the parents can keep trying to conceive a boy (U.S. Department of State, 1997).
  4. In some press accounts, the ratio is even higher. The London Telegraph reports that the sex ratio of China’s population is 131:100 in favor of males. In Zhejiang province there were 860,000 unmarried males aged 22 and above, but only 360,000 unmarried females of the same age group. Among 20- to 25-year olds, the sex ratio was 167:100 in a rural county in Henan province. In a population of 25 million babies born in China each year, there were 750,000 more males than females (Hutchings, 1997).
  5. Since China is a closed society, it is difficult to obtain accurate statistics. India, on the other hand, is more open and may provide a more candid view of female infanticide.

 

  1. The root of female infanticide is different in India than it is in China. In both cultures, there is a preference for male children. However, unlike China, there is no government organization limiting the number of children a family can have. In India the constraint is mostly economic—daughters will require a sizable financial dowry in order to marry. Because daughters leave their families of origin, they are often regarded as temporary members of their families and a drain on its wealth. There is an expression in India that “bringing up a daughter is like watering a neighbor’s plant” (Anderson & Moore, 1993).
  2. The dowry, theoretically illegal under the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, is a significant and pervasive theme . Although a law passed in September 1994 prohibits the use of amniocentesis and sonogram tests for sex determination, they are widely used for this purpose and many female fetuses are terminated (U.S. Department of State, 1998). Advertisements in India for ultrasound clinics urge couples to spend “500 rupees today to save 50,000 rupees tomorrow” (World Vision, 1994, p.4). Washington Post reporters Anderson and Moore (1993) report that at one clinic in Bombay, of 8,000 abortions performed after amniocentesis, 7,999 were of female fetuses. This estimate was supported by a study of clinic records in a large city hospital in India. Seven hundred individuals sought prenatal sex determination. Of those, 250 were male. All of these pregnancies were brought to term. In contrast, of the 450 determined to be female, 430 were terminated (Ramanamma&Bambawale, 1980).
  3. In rural areas, women do not have access to ultrasound or amniocentesis in order to make a prenatal determination of sex. When girls are born, they are still in
  4. danger either through direct infanticide or through sex-selective neglect. There were tribes and castes that had actually killed all their girls (Janssen-Jurreit, 1992). The Bedees (a branch of the Sikhs) were known as koreemar , or “daughter butchers.” Today, in India the ratio of women to men continues to declince from 972 females to 1000 males in 1901 to 935 in 1981 (Venkatramani, 1992).
  5. The English-language newspaper The Hindu reports that on an average 105 female infants were killed every month in Dharmapuri district throughout 1997. This was in spite of efforts to protect female children (The Hindu, 1998). In another region, the Kallars (landless laborers in Tamil Nadu), view female infanticide as the only way out of the dowry problem. One mother interviewed in India Today said:
  6. I killed my child to save it from the lifelong ignominy of being the daughter of a poor family that cannot afford to pay a decent dowry. But all the same, it was extremely difficult to steel myself for the act. A mother who has borne a child cannot bear to see it suffer even for a little while, let alone bring herself to kill it. But I had to do it, because my husband and I concluded that it was better to let our child suffer an hour or two and die than suffer throughout life (Venkatramani, 1992, p. 127).
  7. Officials estimate that approximately 6,000 female babies have been poisoned in Kallar villages in the past decade. The Usilampatti government hospital records nearly 600 female births among the Kallar every year. Five hundred and seventy are taken immediately from the hospital. Approximately 450 (or 80%) are estimated to become victims of infanticide (Venkatramani, 1992). The Kallar also believe that if you kill your girl, your next baby will be a son.
  8. While some have assumed that poverty was the main motivation for female infanticide (de Lamo, 1997; The Hindu, 1998), the reasons appear to be more complex. If social class were the sole determinant of infanticide risk, then we would expect to see lower rates of female infanticide in the upper classes. However, in the Punjab, India’s richest state, Cowan and Dhanoa (1983) found even higher rates of female mortality. For example, females constituted 85% of deaths among infants ages 7 to 36 months. Further, Miller (1981;1987) has argued that infanticide is more likely in the upper rather than lower castes. When the British Colonial government outlawed female infanticide in 1870, they stated that the two chief causes were “pride and purse.” “Purse” referred to the dowry. “Pride” referred to pride of the upper castes and tribes that would rather murder female infants than give them to a rival group even in marriage (Miller, 1987). This may at least partially explain why infanticide also occurs in middle-class and wealthy families.
  9. abortions, even promising punishment of medical practitioners who violate this provision. However, population statistics at least suggest that these practices continue nonetheless. The Chinese press has reported that the national ratio of male to female births is 114 to 100. One October 1994 survey of births in rural areas put the ratio as high as 117 male births to 100 female. However, these official statistics may actually underestimate the problem in that they may exclude many female births, especially the second or third in a family. Such births are unreported so that the parents can keep trying to conceive a boy (U.S. Department of State, 1997).
  10. In some press accounts, the ratio is even higher. The London Telegraph reports that the sex ratio of China’s population is 131:100 in favor of males. In Zhejiang province there were 860,000 unmarried males aged 22 and above, but only 360,000 unmarried females of the same age group. Among 20- to 25-year olds, the sex ratio was 167:100 in a rural county in Henan province. In a population of 25 million babies born in China each year, there were 750,000 more males than females (Hutchings, 1997).
  11. Since China is a closed society, it is difficult to obtain accurate statistics. India, on the other hand, is more open and may provide a more candid view of female infanticide.
  12. Female Infanticide in India
  13. The root of female infanticide is different in India than it is in China. In both cultures, there is a preference for male children. However, unlike China, there is no government organization limiting the number of children a family can have. In India the constraint is mostly economic—daughters will require a sizable financial dowry in order to marry. Because daughters leave their families of origin, they are often regarded as temporary members of their families and a drain on its wealth. There is an expression in India that “bringing up a daughter is like watering a neighbor’s plant” (Anderson & Moore, 1993).
  14. The dowry, theoretically illegal under the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, is a significant and pervasive theme . Although a law passed in September 1994 prohibits the use of amniocentesis and sonogram tests for sex determination, they are widely used for this purpose and many female fetuses are terminated (U.S. Department of State, 1998). Advertisements in India for ultrasound clinics urge couples to spend “500 rupees today to save 50,000 rupees tomorrow” (World Vision, 1994, p.4). Washington Post reporters Anderson and Moore (1993) report that at one clinic in Bombay, of 8,000 abortions performed after amniocentesis, 7,999 were of female fetuses. This estimate was supported by a study of clinic records in a large city hospital in India. Seven hundred individuals sought prenatal sex determination. Of those, 250 were male. All of these pregnancies were brought to term. In contrast, of the 450 determined to be female, 430 were terminated (Ramanamma&Bambawale, 1980).
  15. In rural areas, women do not have access to ultrasound or amniocentesis in order to make a prenatal determination of sex. When girls are born, they are still in
  16. danger either through direct infanticide or through sex-selective neglect. There were tribes and castes that had actually killed all their girls (Janssen-Jurreit, 1992). The Bedees (a branch of the Sikhs) were known as koreemar , or “daughter butchers.” Today, in India the ratio of women to men continues to declince from 972 females to 1000 males in 1901 to 935 in 1981 (Venkatramani, 1992).
  17. The English-language newspaper The Hindu reports that on an average 105 female infants were killed every month in Dharmapuri district throughout 1997. This was in spite of efforts to protect female children (The Hindu, 1998). In another region, the Kallars (landless laborers in Tamil Nadu), view female infanticide as the only way out of the dowry problem. One mother interviewed in India Today said:
  18. I killed my child to save it from the lifelong ignominy of being the daughter of a poor family that cannot afford to pay a decent dowry. But all the same, it was extremely difficult to steel myself for the act. A mother who has borne a child cannot bear to see it suffer even for a little while, let alone bring herself to kill it. But I had to do it, because my husband and I concluded that it was better to let our child suffer an hour or two and die than suffer throughout life (Venkatramani, 1992, p. 127).
  19. Officials estimate that approximately 6,000 female babies have been poisoned in Kallar villages in the past decade. The Usilampatti government hospital records nearly 600 female births among the Kallar every year. Five hundred and seventy are taken immediately from the hospital. Approximately 450 (or 80%) are estimated to become victims of infanticide (Venkatramani, 1992). The Kallar also believe that if you kill your girl, your next baby will be a son.
  20. While some have assumed that poverty was the main motivation for female infanticide (de Lamo, 1997; The Hindu, 1998), the reasons appear to be more complex. If social class were the sole determinant of infanticide risk, then we would expect to see lower rates of female infanticide in the upper classes. However, in the Punjab, India’s richest state, Cowan and Dhanoa (1983) found even higher rates of female mortality. For example, females constituted 85% of deaths among infants ages 7 to 36 months. Further, Miller (1981;1987) has argued that infanticide is more likely in the upper rather than lower castes. When the British Colonial government outlawed female infanticide in 1870, they stated that the two chief causes were “pride and purse.” “Purse” referred to the dowry. “Pride” referred to pride of the upper castes and tribes that would rather murder female infants than give them to a rival group even in marriage (Miller, 1987). This may at least partially explain why infanticide also occurs in middle-class and wealthy families.

 

 

 

 

 

One Comment

  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    Complexities of the problem elaborately analysed