India is one of the most important up-and-coming, capitalist democracies in the world. It is inches from being a true world power and in the ensuing years will become one, certainly. But India still has some stupid, backwards, ignorant cultural practices to shed before it can step into the circle of leading nations with true pride. This story highlights one of those practices.
Like many tribal, backwards peoples, India has a hatred of girl children. This is a holdover from the days when having a boy meant not only passing on your family line, but meant a strong back to work for that family. This is a holdover from the backwards days when a girl was seen more as chattel than as a human being in her own right. It is also because of a cultural economic problem when girls marry (see below). Unfortunately it is not a prejudice that sits in India’s cultural past. This disregard for women persists.
In fact, it is so bad that many thousands of baby girls a year are given the same name at birth. Many unfortunate girl babies are given the name “Nakusa” (or “Nakushi”) at birth. In Hindi this means, “unwanted.”
Imagine going through life understanding from the beginning that you were an unwanted child. Worse, imagine that your very name means unwanted! Then imagine that thousands of girls that you know have the same hateful name. It is an intolerable thing and something that many Americans likely cannot even fathom.
But steps are being made to shed this disrespect for girl children.
Last week, in Mumbai, 200 girls had their names legally changed from “unwanted” to a pretty name of their own choice.
These are the lucky girls. The ones not only able to change their names but the ones that didn’t get aborted just because they were female.
Girls are severely mistreated as a class in India. Sometimes their health is neglected and as mentioned, often they are aborted in the womb. It has gotten so bad that there are only about 883 girls for every 1,000 boys in India.
To explain the note above about the marriage problem, I quote from the piece linked:
Part of the reason Indians favor sons is the enormous expense of marrying off girls. Families often go into debt arranging marriages and paying for elaborate dowries. A boy, on the other hand, will one day bring home a bride and dowry. Hindu custom also dictates that only sons can light their parents’ funeral pyres.
It does not suffice to justify anything, but this is one of the cultural problems that India faces.
Now, I am sure that some staunchly traditional Indian Hindis might decry this PC effort to make girls live easier, this effort to change their culture. But it is certainly a PCism that any caring person must endorse. Of course, this really isn’t as much PCism as simple, common decency.