Gendercide, a term first coined in a 1985 book by Mary Anne Warren, is a cold and ominous sounding word, and rightly so. Coupled with a photo of a single pair of empty pink baby shoes silhouetted against a black backdrop, it’s downright haunting. But that’s what the editors of a recent issue of the Economist did when they published a startling expose on a largely ignored modern-day holocaust.
What is it all about?
According to a technical understanding of the term, “gendercide” is the deliberate extermination of one particular gender, male or female. Such a dark description sounds like the substance of history books, of a time and era long past. Of course, everyone knows and is appalled at the mention of murderous figures the likes of Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler. But that was then and this is now—and an enlightened world knows better. RIght?
If only that were so.
The tragic reality is otherwise. According to conservative estimates, in this past generation, more than 100 million baby girls have been killed around the globe for no other reason than one: They weren’t boys.
In a day and age when very little surprises and shocks me, this is a figure of nearly unfathomable proportion. Bringing it down to personal terms—imagine being pressured or told you had to abort your own baby girl because you were told they were worthless.
Frankly, that view turns my stomach. I suspect it does yours, too. Why is this happening? According to the Economist:
“the destruction of baby girls is a product of three forces: the ancient preference for sons; a modern desire for smaller families; and ultrasound scanning and other technologies that identify the sex of a fetus. In societies where four or six children were common, a boy would almost certainly come along eventually; son preference did not need to exist at the expense of daughters.
“But now couples want two children—or, as in China, are allowed only one—they will sacrifice unborn daughters to their pursuit of a son. That is why sex ratios are most distorted in the modern, open parts of China and India. It is also why ratios are more skewed after the first child: parents may accept a daughter first time round but will do anything to ensure their next—and probably last—child is a boy. The boy-girl ratio is above 200 for a third child in some places.”
It’s both heartbreaking and ironic that the miraculous technology of ultrasound is at once being used for evil just as frequently, if not more so, than it’s being used for good. To be sure, the consequences of this “gendercide” exist and fester on numerous levels, and they will continue to persist for generations to come.
Prior to assuming the presidency of Focus on the Family, I served the ministry as vice president of its international division. Many of my travels took me to China and India, two of the countries most often cited for engaging in gender-specific abortions. We often hear about how many more males than females there are in these parts of the world, and from a first-hand witness, I can certainly attest to its reality.
There are as many as 130 males to 100 females in some provinces of China. Similar ratios exist in India and elsewhere. According to Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, a friend and Focus on the Family board member: “The social consequences of this imbalance are vast and uncorrectable. China and India now face the reality of millions of young men and boys who have absolutely no hope of a wife and family. In China, these young men are called guanggun or “broken branches.”
Consider this: the 30 to 40 million “broken branches” in China are about equal in number to the total number of all boys and young men in the United States. Clearly, China needs to abolish its “one-child” policy. Though abortion based on gender is technically illegal in China, the law is rarely enforced. It needs to be.
Paul, a follower of Jesus, summed up a Christian’s response to gender equity so eloquently in his letter to the Galatians: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
This is a complex problem, an epidemic that’s hard to get a handle on, especially when one is so far removed from it. But it’s also a matter whose root cause and cure is devastatingly simple: Every life is precious, a gift from God and worthy of preservation. Analysts, politicians and sociologists can examine and dissect this every which way, but when it comes down to it, it’s a matter of the heart and a matter of choosing good over evil.
Please join me in praying for an end to this sordid and evil practice of gendercide. Let’s pray that the Lord would change the hearts of those with the power to change laws—and in doing, begin to redeem a lost generation of girls.