On my regular hunt for new documentaries to watch, I came across It’s A Girl and knew I had to watch it. But I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. The synopsis on IMBD for this documentary was indeed shocking but not in any way news to me, “every year in India and China, millions of babies are killed, neglected or abandoned simply because they are girls.” 1 in 4 girls in India don’t even make it till puberty.
However, before this film I had never heard of the word ‘Gendercide,’ which is mentioned in the documentary frequently. According to Wikipedia, “Gendercide is the systematic killing of members of a specific sex, in this case, women.”
It’s A Girl also highlights other cruel, shocking and dehumanizing issues including,
Female Infanticide- The deliberate killing of a newborn female child or the termination of a female fetus through abortion.
Dowry Death- The deaths of young women who are murdered or take their own life due to continuous harassment, abuse and torture from their husbands and in-laws in an effort to receive an increased dowry (money or property given from the daughters family to the her husbands in marriage.)
Sex Selective Abortion- Terminating a baby because of the predicted gender of the child.
Forced Abortion/ Forced Sterilization- Forced abortion is when a woman is forced against her will to terminate a child through threat, force, or coercion.
Child Trafficking- The selling or trading of children for the purpose of exploitation.
Abandonment- In this case, deserting or leaving female children because they are seen of a burden to a family.
Illegal Pregnancy- In China there is a one child law where it is illegal for parents to try and have more than one child. Many who only have girls wish to try for a boy.
I feel so connected to all women around the world, therefore it is very hard for me not to be deeply moved and angry listening to the stories of the women interviewed and the issues raised in this film. Seeing the blatant disregard for women and girls lives on the basis of gender, something you cannot decide, is completely shocking.
I remember reading Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, and reading about one of the women who prayed and asked Buddha to bring her back as a dog or an insect, anything but a woman. Even thinking of this now brings tears to my eyes. I can’t imagine how many women there are in the world who pray for this every day, how many mothers pray and wish for their unborn child not to be a girl so that they will not suffer in the ways that they have.
Despite the serious and shocking issues the film covers, it also manages to be very inspiring. I found Dr. Mitu Khurana to be particularly inspiring and powerful. From a “victim to a survivor” when she became pregnant with twins, her in-laws and her husband tortured her and bribed a doctor to perform an illegal ultrasound which revealed both twins were girls. They then tried to force her to get an abortion, but Dr. Khurana managed to escape back to her parents and give birth to her daughters. Now she fights for women’s rights and is making legal history in her brave attempts to strengthen the law which forbids gender testing. It’s hard not to be affected by her story.
The film also featured inspiring and passionate women’s rights activists, like Rita Banerji, founder of the 50 Million Missing Campaign and Reggie Littlejohn, President of the Womenʼs Rights Without Frontiers. Despite all the work that needs to be done in the world and the constant pain that is brought on women, it always makes me feel proud to have sisters like this in the world who dedicate their lives to making a better world for women. As Rita Banerji said, “everyone is involved” in this fight for women, as human beings, we are all connected.
A mother in India gives life to her twin daughters despite immense adversity
When Mitu Khurana found out she was carrying twins, she could have easily joined millions of other Indian women and gone for an illegal sex determination test to ensure they were sons. Daughters are a disaster for families in India, because when they grow up, they join their husbands family upon marriage and take with them years worth of income in the form of marriage dowry.
But Mitu was a pediatrician, and one of two daughters of her father, who had no sons. So maybe Mitu grew up with a different idea of the value of girls. Whatever the reason, when Mitu’s husband and parents-in-law insisted she get an illegal ultrasound to ensure she was carrying boys, Mitu refused.
Mitu was locked in a room for three days with no food. When she still did not relent, her husband and in-laws, who knew she was allergic to eggs, devised a plan. They gave her a cake, made with egg, and when Mitu became ill, took her to a nearby hospital. They convinced the doctor to perform an ultrasound under the guise of ensuring her kidneys were not damaged by the episode. The doctor delivered the news they were most afraid to hear: the twins were girls.