Lord Alton gave the following speech at a meeting at the House of Lords on Tuesday co-sponsored by Lord Alton and Baroness Howe before a screening of the short film: 'It's a Girl' - which highlighted gendercide, the abortion of little girls aborted because of their sex.
October 11th was UN International Day of the Girl. During that commemoration it was suggested that globally some 100 million girls are the victims of domestic violence, compulsory veiling, the sex trade, trafficking, bonded labour, forced marriages, genital mutilation, and sexual abuse.
Compared with their male counterparts, their life prospects – from education to employment – are significantly less.
The story of an amazing 14-year-old young woman, Lamala Yousafzai, recovering in a Birmingham hospital after being gunned down by the Taliban in Pakistan, for campaigning for the right to schooling and education, illustrates the horrific nature of the intolerance to which many young women are subjected.
That discrimination begins even before birth, when the three most dangerous and deadly words which can be uttered are the words “It’s a girl".
In July of this year, a man in Anshan city in northeast China was rummaging through a garbage bin for recyclables when he caught sight of a small plastic bag.
When he removed the bag and looked inside, what he saw would have shocked and sickened any civilized human being.
Inside was a newborn baby girl with a deep cut to her throat. She was so newborn that her placenta and umbilical cord were still attached. Her entire tiny body was covered in blood.
Luckily for her, local residents got her to hospital and, as far as we know, the baby’s life was saved.
But every day in China, thousands of similar baby girls are not so fortunate. China’s One Child Policy and the country’s traditional preference for boys have led to widespread abandonment, infanticide, and forced abortions.
Centuries-old tradition, combined with government-enforced birth control policies, have had horrifying and devastating consequences.
One United Nations expert estimates that gendercide has cost the lives of around two hundred million women and girls worldwide over the past thirty years. It has also led to violence against citizens and sometimes murder of those who don’t comply with the policy.
Make no mistake: this is a war. China’s One Child Policy causes more violence against women and girls than any other policy on earth – than any official policy in the history of the world.
Statistics related to the birth control policy are staggering. The Chinese government says about thirteen million abortions are carried out every year. That amounts to one thousand, four hundred and fifty eight every sixty minutes or, to put it another way, a Tiananmen Square massacre every hour. The vast majority, of
course, are girls.
But while China is by far the leader in this appalling trend, it’s by no means alone. India, with its history of deadly discrimination against girls and women, is rapidly catching up. Today there are now markedly more males than females in India than there were in the early 1990s, and various regions are facing serious and growing gender imbalances.
Gendercide is also on the rise globally. As an international predilection for sex-selective abortion grows, so more and more women and girls are losing their lives or simply “missing”, the result of sterilization or other means. Western Asia, in particular, is a region of growing concern.
And this isn’t just about the loss of precious human life. The gender disparity it creates is causing a catalogue of other problems. China now has thirty-seven million more males than females, fuelling human trafficking and sexual slavery. As this spreads to neighbouring states, national security is threatened.
China’s One Child Policy is also fostering an ageing population without young people to support them – an anomaly expected to hit the country within the next twenty years.
What was therefore a policy enforced for economic reasons has ironically now become China's economic death sentence.
The short film we’re going to see today conveys a simple yet powerful message: that the words “It’s a girl” – usually proclaimed with such joy and celebration – are deadly for large populations of the world.
The film is a plea to governments, organizations and all people of good will to take action, to exert pressure on China and the international community to end this global war.
But what can we do? Where do we start?
We can begin by lobbying our representatives in Parliament, and by urgently calling on Western governments to exert pressure on China, India and other countries to end the gendercide.
We must also insist that Western governments de-fund the United Nations Population Fund and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Both have been working hand in hand with the coercive Chinese population control machine for decades.
We must encourage positive action, such as the European Parliament’s recent resolution condemning forced abortion in China.
We must also take every opportunity to refute Chinese propaganda that they are loosening up on the One Child Policy. They are not.
And, of course, we can help publicize these appalling stories, which are so often hidden and suppressed by China’s communist regime.
Reggie Littlejohn, through her organization Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, All Girls Allowed, and other NGOs have done absolutely marvellous work in bringing this war to global attention.
They serve as an inspiration to all of us and have earned our deepest respect.
As too, of course, has the activist Chen Guangcheng. A self-taught lawyer from a humble, peasant background, Chen has been a long-time defender of people with disabilities. But it was when he campaigned against forced abortions in 2005, that his problems began.
He and his family were placed under house arrest. Chen was then jailed for four years, beaten by local security thugs on his release, and then escaped house arrest in April this year, finding safe passage to the United States.
We can learn much from his example. Blind since birth, Chen’s bravery and heroism has inspired many Chinese dissidents and campaigners around the world.
Those who know him, admire him for his innocent idealism that adds power to his activism. But he is also tenacious, possessing a strong undercurrent of righteous anger and a flair for assailing the contradictions of authoritarian repression. And even though he is currently in exile, he plans to return to his native China – and
is not afraid to go back.
In a recent interview, Chen said he was confident reform will come to China, but stressed that if everyone made an effort to build a more just and civil society, then it would come faster.
Each of us should heed Chen’s call to action. We must also pray for an end to this war.
The life of the little baby girl barbarically discarded in the garbage bin, and millions of other women and girls, urgently depend on us doing so.
See also ICN report 'New film exposes scandal of gendercide http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=21344