Austin attorney and poet Sheree Rabe is using her writing to raise awareness about a cause that is only getting marginal attention (at best) in American media: over 100 million female babies being fatally neglected in China, India, and other countries. (Link opens to a PDF.)
While China’s one-child policy and its effects on the female population have captured some degree of American attention, the horrors that female children are subjected to after they are born are largely glossed over. News outlets tend to report on the issue of selective abortion, ignoring the ways that female children suffer after birth. Furthermore, this issue is often portrayed as something specific to China. I had no idea, up until a few months ago, how pervasive this issue was in other countries. Nor is it merely about population control; baby girls in many countries lack value because they are considered expensive (they need a dowry to be able to marry), they are considered bad luck, or because they are simply considered less valuable overall than boys.
Sheree has started a blog entitled 100 Million Girls to help raise awareness and encourage activism. The site has links to articles, organizations, and videos that provide information and ways to help out. But the main focus of the site is activist poetry. She has a page featuring poetry from The Sky is a Nest of Swallows, a book put out by the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. She also has an open thread where blog visitors can post their own poetry; I shared my own piece “For Reference,” earlier this week. And finally, Sheree is using her own writing as a form of activism: she is currently at work on a poetry collection designed to raise awareness and propose solutions. I’ve had the privilege of giving her feedback on an early draft of the book, and I can’t wait to see the finished work.
Sheree is not the only person attempting to raise awareness and fight this issue. The Gendercide Awareness Project and Gendercide Watch are two examples of organizations seeking to address the systematic, endemic lack of basic rights and respect for baby girls.
The United States has its fair share of problems, to be sure. But that doesn’t mean we can live in willful ignorance of the abuses that go on elsewhere in the world. It doesn’t mean we can’t help. I also know that people have limited time and money, and struggle to find a way to contribute to every cause, even ones that really matter to them. If you have the time, get involved with one of these groups. If you have money, donate. And if all you can do is spread awareness**, that’s great, too. As I’ve said, this issue does not get nearly enough attention in American media; you helping to raise awareness does a lot.
**Recently, I have had discussions with people on Google+ about the issue of “slacktivism.” Some people have argued that sharing posts on social networks, etc., is ultimately lazy and you can’t consider yourself an activist. My position is that we, as humans, cannot possibly devote 100% of our energies to all the possible ways we could change the world. Do what you can. If the best you can do is help spread the word, that’s great.