In India and many other developing countries, boys are valued more highly than girls. Girls are less likely to help support their families economically, and when a girl marries, her parents must pay a dowry to the husband’s family in addition to paying for the wedding. The boy’s family gains wealth, while the girl’s family often spirals into debt. Facing this dilemma, many families kill or abandon daughters after birth. An estimated 39 million women and girls are “missing” in India alone due to infanticide and sex-selective abortions.
Note of Hope: Had it not been for World Vision’s intervention, Kalaivani likely would have wound up among the “missing.” But local World Vision workers knew that Yashoda was a high risk to commit infanticide and visited her shortly after her baby was born. They counseled her and her husband to let Kalaivani live. They also connected Yashoda with a group of 25 other women that pools resources to take out loans and provides a consistent income for the members so they can help provide for their whole family—and especially, their girls.
Saphia (name changed to protect her identity) experienced female genital mutilation (FGM), sometimes called female circumcision. The process involves trimming or removing the clitoris and in some cases, stitching the vagina closed, leaving only a small opening for fluids. The tradition has been passed down for many generations in Somalia, where Saphia lives, and in other African countries. Those who perform the “surgery” view it as a rite of passage into adulthood. But FGM at the least causes pain, infections, childbirth complications, infertility, and at worst, death.
Note of Hope: World Vision is working to create awareness of the dangers of FGM. In Mali, where 93 percent of women have undergone FGM, World Vision is working with women who perform FGM, convincing some of them to give up the practice, develop alternate rites of passage for girls, and educate the public about the risks caused by FGM.
Nora told authorities that she was 22, but in reality she was 17—a child, like half of the 1.39 million people trapped in the global sex trade every year, according to the International Labor Organization. Human trafficking nets an estimated $15 billion per year worldwide.
Note of Hope:When Nora returned to complete some paperwork, she told Norwegian authorities her real story, and they helped her escape her captors and return to Albania. She and others who escaped the sex trade receive counseling, shelter, and protection at a World Vision clinic. The organization’s main emphasis, however, is to prevent the victimization in the first place. Through education, vocational training, and advocacy, World Vision is working to eliminate the poverty that forces many girls into the sex trade and to improve laws and enforcement against trafficking.
—Ryan Smith is the assistant editor for World Vision magazine.
|The feature above was published in |
World Vision Magazine—Spring 2007[pdf].
Other features from this issue include: