"By joining efforts we can surpass the injustices inflicted on the girl child and boy child alike. If left untreated, these forces will permanently scar our children and threaten the healthy growth of nations." - Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan
(presented for our book on Discrimination Against the Girl Child)
Discrimination against the Girl Child
While children around the world continue to face various forms of adversity in the 21 st century, girl children in particular are subjected to multiple forms of oppression, exploitation, and discrimination due to their gender. United Nations statistics, national reports and studies initiated by non-governmental organizations repeatedly show that girls, as a group, have lower literacy rates, receive less health care, and are more often impoverished than boys. It is also important to note these conditions, more often than not, do not improve as girls grow to become women.
Forms of discrimination against girl children are numerous and vary depending on the traditions, history, and culture of a particular society. In our work to improve the condition of girls, Youth Advocate Program International focuses on three life-threatening practices that impact the lives of millions of girl children – female infanticide, female genital cutting, and honor killing.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) defines a child as a person under the age of 18 unless national laws recognize the age of majority earlier. The age of 18 is now accepted as the world standard, since every country has ratified the CRC except Somalia and the United States . Although YAP International specifically advocates for ending discrimination against girls, we realize efforts to curtail gender discrimination must include strategies that continue to support women when they reach and pass age 18.
Female Infanticide and Sex-Selective Abortion
Female infanticide is the murder of a young girl child, often occurring as a deliberate murder of a girl infant or young girl child or as the result of neglect. Selective abortion – also called gender-selective abortion, sex-selective abortion, or female feticide – is the abortion of a fetus because it is female. Medical technology has made it possible for parents to discover the sex of a fetus at earlier and earlier stages of pregnancy, so many women from communities with a preference for boys practice selective abortion.
These practices occur most frequently in societies where a girl child is viewed as culturally and economically less advantageous than a boy child. Female infanticide has been reported in China, North Korea, South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan), the Middle East (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey) and parts of Africa (Cameroon, Liberia, Madagascar, Senegal, Nigeria).
Female infanticide and feticide are predominantly practiced in regions of significant poverty and overpopulation. One reason boys are more valued than girls is preserving lineage, as family lineage and family name are carried only by males in most societies. Also, children are expected to care for parents in their old age in many countries, so raising a son becomes a better investment because once a girl marries, she becomes the property of her husband and of virtually no value to her parents. Some women resort to female infanticide and feticide in order to protect their daughters from a life of objectification and subjugation in a society dominated by men, where there is a prevalent anti-girl attitude. Economically, girls often have a lower earning potential than boys, as boys are more likely to find work and receive higher pay. This is significant in poor communities where each family member is expected to add to the household income. A girl can no longer contribute to her family's income after marriage when she must turn all of her wages over to her husband. In many situations, it is much more of an economic burden to raise...
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