India Girls Victimized by Sex-Selection Abortions Have New Hope

International   Rebecca Taylor   Aug 16, 2012   |   1:23PM    Washington, DC

Increasingly we are learning about the deep-seeded prejudice against girls in some Asian countries. With an estimated 163 million women in Asia “missing” due to sex-selective abortion, which is equivalent to the entire female population of the United States, the lives of Asian women are getting worse not better.

Mara Hvistendahl, reported in her book Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, that “Between 1992 and 2004 China’s crime rate nearly doubled. In India from 2003 to 2007 rape cases surged over 30 percent and abductions by over 50 percent prompting the government to unveil female-only trains.”

Tanushree Soni, gender expert from Plan International, in an interview with Trustlaw said, “An imbalance of sexes fuels human trafficking and sexual exploitation. It endangers economic development and increases social instability as a growing population of men search for partners. When you see very highly skewed ratios of sex, it’s very likely you’ll get a high prevalence of violence against women and girls.”

So what can we do to help? We can give to charities that take in, and educate poor girls in Asian countries in hopes that these precious little ones will have a better life.

One such charity is the International Foundation for Hope. The mission of IFH is “to uplift and empower economically disadvantaged children by providing basic educational opportunities that are necessary for them to become productive, self-reliant, and self-sufficient adults.”

In addition to sponsoring a child, providing them with school fees, uniforms, books, and school supplies for a year for only $100, IFH supports Mercy Home, a place that rescues Indian girls from the streets. Mercy Home is located in an urban slum area north of Chennai, India. The girls there range in age between six and fifteen. The Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph run Mercy Home and provide the nearly 400 girls “with opportunities to receive a formal education and to experience a home-like environment.”

One IFH success story is about Pratibha, a 16-year old girl who had to drop out of school to help her family:

In order to provide money for the education of the children, Pratibha’s mother often went without food, as did Pratibha and her brother at times. Eventually, Pratibha also found work as a housemaid on a 12-hours per day work schedule. Pratibha earned 200 rupees (less than $5) per month, and, because meals were not included with her work, she spent all her wages on food (one meal per day). Pratibha was miserable: often hungry, embarrassed, and isolated from her friends. In addition, between Pratibha and her brother, the family took for granted that Pratibha, being a girl, should give up formal schooling and “bring an income” to the family.

Three years ago Pratibha’s mother turned for help to the Sharana Social and Development Organization. After working with the family for five months, the Sharana Director convinced Pratibha’s mother (and Pratibha) that Pratibha could return to school through the support of the International Foundation for Hope. Both Pratibha and her mother had feared that if Pratibha returned to school, they would further be without food. But the Sharana Director also helped Pratibha’s mother secure a better job.

Pratibha and her family now have hope that Pratibha can fulfill many of her dreams through the formal education she is receiving with the support of the International Foundation for Hope.

IFH also supports a home for children with HIV/AIDS in Pondicherry, India. IFH President, Carol Collins, lives with the 21 children at the home, called Jeeva Nivas, where they get medical care, a good education and love.

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You can read testimonials and see the good work that IFH is doing by visiting their website.

Regardless of the charity, I encourage all who care about the plight of women in Asia, especially poor women, to give generously so that girls (and boys) there can get the care and education they need and deserve.