Voice of girl child
Let’s listen to the voice of girl child and make her confident to live a dignified life. From thousands of years the girl child has been subjected to unimaginable bias, discrimination and violence in the name of customs, traditions and a mindset in the society which considers the female of the human species less than equal. Even today this mindset persists and discrimination and violence against the girl child and women is a common phenomenon in most of the parts of the world. This is a big mistake committed by humanity which if continues can lead to a serious damage to the very existence of human species on this planet. It is one of the universal truths that if a girl child is empowered, she will assert and voice her opinions keeping in mind the benefit of her family, community, society and the world at large. In fact she is better prepared by nature to make healthy life decisions, exercise leadership in her family and community, and develop goals for the well-being of many around her. Therefore let’s listen to the voice of girl child and let’s give her back the fundamental right to a dignified and secure life. This is going to benefit the whole of humanity.
Voice of girl child: Necessary conditions for girl child empowerment
The girl child has to be rescued from the shackles of discrimination and violence and if this has to happen then the primary necessity is to provide her a secure home with a strong parental support especially from the mother. Only with this foundation we can think about providing vital nutrition, healthcare, love, nurturing, security and quality education to the girl child. Such an environment will prepare the girl child to stand confidently in the society and life a quality life of her choice. So we can clearly see that to empower the girl child, first of all we need to empower the women. Only a strong and healthy woman can provide us back the voice of girl child and the necessary foundation for a bright future for the girl child. Further the other necessary conditions that is required to empower and realize the voice of girl child include creation of safe and supportive girl friendly spaces and environments, building girls’ social assets, provision of education, information and skills-building for girls, creation of channels for girls’ participation, especially vulnerable girls, in decision-making processes and engaging men and boys as allies in questioning traditional and discriminatory gender socialization.
Voice of girl child: Obstacles and challenges faced by the girl child
The obstacles and challenges faced by the girl child are numerous and the most dangerous of them all is the mindset of the society which considers the girl child as an inferior being, a liability and a property. With this mindset the girl child is subjected to all kind of discrimination and bias. This gets initiated even before her birth in the form female foeticide and continues throughout her life in the form of infanticide, neglect in terms of nutrition, health and education, slavery in the house, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, early marriage, premature pregnancy and a life of drudgery and slavery as an adult. Surviving under these circumstances is extremely torturous and by the age of 12 the girl child is physically and psychologically completely broken and thus the voice of girl child is permanently crushed. This is a reality of our own world and if we look around with open eyes we can see this hellish picture in front of us. In fact every day, in every part of the world, girls are kept out of school, hit, ignored, forced to marry and have sex, sold as slaves, made to fight in wars and asked to sit silently while decisions are made for them – about them. As I said before depending on where they live, girls face numerous obstacles starting from the first stages of their lives. These include female infanticide, female genital mutilation, early marriage, high rates of maternal death, and violence. The irony of the whole situation is that even after suffering such misery and torture the voice of girl child never gets heard.
Voice of girl child: Girl child discrimination
We have to agree to the fact that girl child discrimination starts even before her birth. She faces the danger of losing her life even before she takes birth in this world. Sex selective female foeticide destroys the girl child in the womb itself. Even If she takes birth still she risks losing her life. Female infanticide is very common phenomenon across the world. If she survives this phase then she comes into a world where the girl child and women are considered as lesser human beings, liabilities and properties. So she is in fact thrown into a world which is already biased against her. The discrimination is seen in the family in the form of regressive mindset, customs and traditions. The girl child is marginalized in every way whether it is the basic needs of food and nutrition, healthcare or education. The family has a mindset which thinks that all the resources and support should be given to the boy child and in this way an open discrimination sets from the very early days. The girl child has a very difficult childhood in the sense that she is made to take up the household chores and responsibilities from a very early stage. In this bargain her childhood is destroyed even before it blossoms. This discrimination that the girl child faces in the early part of her life in her own family grows further and the more sinister manifestations of it can be seen in the society where she is discriminated in every sphere of life in one way or another. It’s time that we hear the voice of girl child and end the discrimination against the girl child.
Voice of girl child: Gender based violence and abuse
When there is a wide spread discrimination against the girl child in the family and the society it is but natural that we see the more inhuman form of this phenomenon as gender based violence and abuse. Girl child sexual abuse at the hands of somebody in the family or a known source is a very common problem that is seen around the world. This form of violence totally shatters the psychological and physical self of the girl child. Most of the times these things never come out or they are hushed up. These inhuman incidents remain as a scar in the psyche of the girl child and manifests in various harmful forms in her adult life. Further a girl child is treated very harshly in her own house with extreme physical punishments meted out to her for even trivial things. As she grows into an adult the nature of violence becomes harsher in the form of domestic violence as well as sexual abuse. The voice of girl child points us to the plight of the invisible girls. In fact the girls at high risk of discrimination and violence are the invisible girls-These are girls facing harmful social and traditional practices, child mothers and girl heads-of-household, girls in the worst forms of child labour, girls with ill health, girls infected with and affected by HIV and AIDS, girls in refugee camps, asylum-seeking and internally displaced girls and girls in marginalized groups.
Voice of girl child: Human rights of the girl child
One of the basic human rights a girl child is entitled to is her right to a live a life of equality and dignity. For the voice of girl child to be heard and for the basic human right of the girl child to be restored, the mindset in the society has to change which looks at the girl child and women as less than human. The right to a life of equality and dignity is compromised even before she takes birth in the form of female foeticide and therefore destruction of the female foetus should be considered as crime against humanity. The girl child has the right to a secure, healthy life with love and care from the family and society and she has a right to a childhood which is pleasant and exciting. The girl child has a right to protection against sexual abuse and violence. Most importantly she has the right to education and the right to live a life which is productive and creative and which is based on her own informed choice. This is the voice of girl child we must listen to.
Voice of girl child: Laws protecting the girl child
We need the enforcement of strict laws which prevent foeticide, infanticide, sexual abuse and violence against the girl child in various forms. We also need national policies and legislations which promote equality in healthcare and nutrition, education, employment and property for the girl child. Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Treaty for the Rights of Women, formally known as the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was ratified and approved by most of the members of the UN. Based on the guidelines of CEDAW member states should formulate strong laws and policies which prevent gender discrimination in all forms and which protects the girl child.
Voice of girl child: The girl child today
The girl child today is slowly coming out of her shell and experiencing a life of equality and dignity in many parts of the world. In fact the voice of girl child is now echoing in many parts of the world. She is able to assert herself and present herself in the most creative of forms thanks to the changing mindset in many parts of the world. But this is just the beginning. We need to be aware of the fact that in majority of the world the girl child still faces a life of bias, discrimination, exploitation and violence. The battle for equality and a dignified life has just begun and in this regard what we need is removing all laws that discriminate against girls; establishing a minimum legal age of consent and marriage; ensuring safe and equal school environments for girls; establishing minimum age for employment; combating sex exploitation, bonded-labor and other forms child labor. Further addressing patriarchy, gender inequalities, negative gender values, stereotype roles and harmful and discriminatory practices are also the need of the hour.
Voice of girl child: The dream for girl child
The dream of the girl child is to live a life of innocence in her childhood which is full of love and happiness. It’s a dream where she goes to school, plays with her friends and grows up as a doting and intelligent daughter of her proud parents. In fact let’s dream of the day when the rights of the girl child will be protected, when each girl will be guaranteed an education, when the health needs of the girl child will be recognized, when zones of peace for children in armed conflict will be created and respected and when all girls will live free from fear and want. This is the true voice of girl child that all of us must listen to and help materialize as it is a must for the very sake of human existence.
Article by Sanjay Nair
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