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The Plight Of Women: Young Girls

This is part 2 in our series about the plight facing girls who live in India. Read Part 1 – The Plight of Women: Baby Girls and Part 3 – The Plight of Women: Adulthood

Dangers for young girls

If a girl in India survives infancy, she faces a whole new slew of dangers in her childhood including:

Lack of food/medicine – If a family is poor, a son is the first to be fed … and the “less valuable” girl is given leftover scraps to eat. Parents are more likely to seek medical help for sick sons than daughters who are ill.

No education – Since families expect sons to care for and provide for them, they are willing to allow them to go to school … but, too often, educating girls is seen as a waste, so they are not allowed to study.

Child labor – Instead of going to school, many girls in India cook, clean and care for younger siblings at home … or labor long days alongside their parents in the fields.

Child marriage – Since girls are seen as a burden in many families, some parents try to marry off their daughters as soon as possible. The younger a girl is married, the more likely she is to suffer a pregnancy-related death, according to UNICEF.*

Religious prostitution – Young girls—often from low caste families—are given to the temples as human sacrifices in order to appease the gods. These girls are called devadasis. They are sexual slaves, forbidden from marrying. And they have to earn their own income by begging in the streets. India’s government outlawed the practice in 1988, but it persists in south India, where there are an estimated 50,000 devadasis.**

Kidnapping – Ironically, since many families choose to kill daughters, there are not enough brides for men—especially in certain areas of India. This puts girls at an increased risk being stolen from their families and brought to another region to be a bride.

Sex trafficking – Young girls are vulnerable to being sold—even by family members—into sex trafficking. Sometimes, families are unaware they are selling their daughter into a life of sexual slavery; they’ve been deceived by a smooth-talking person who offers a better life and education to their daughter.

A generational cycle of oppression – If girls survive and go on to give birth to their own children, their own daughters are in danger. They are seen as unwanted burdens in their families … and the cycle continues.

 

*UNICEF: http://www.childinfo.org/marriage.html

**National Commission on Women

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