March 8 is International Women’s Day and women’s organizations around the world celebrate the day with song, dance and special festivities. Yet for many of the celebrants an entire group of women—the littlest of women thriving and growing in the womb—present a threat to their abortion agenda and are excluded from efforts to protect women and girls from violence .
Many celebrations for International Women’s Day advocate for an end to the cycle of discrimination that impacts all aspects of the lives of women and girls, however, the cycle of discrimination will only be broken when the very first act of violence against a girl— identification and destruction in the womb through sex selection abortion—is eliminated around the world.
The UN meeting on the Commission on the Status of Women is currently underway with the theme “elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls”. The theme reflects a noble and necessary goal in a world plagued by violence and abuse directed at women. There will likely be intense debate at CSW between those who seek to protect girls in the womb from discrimination and violence and those who value access to abortion above life itself, even protection for the lives of millions of girls which will be ended through the violence of abortion.
Broad agreement exists that girls need to be protected from all forms of violence and abuse and given the same opportunities as boys; girls should be able to attend school without fear of assault; collect firewood or water without fear of violence; and have access to health care and a nutritious diet.
However, failure to recognize the value, worth and right to life of a baby girl from the first moment of her existence enables the inequality and discrimination to persist and leads to future acts of violence and abuse directed at women. The dire consequences of sex selective abortion—skewed sex ratios—create new social problems with grave implications for women’s future well-being and safety including increased sex trafficking and ‘slave wives’ in affected countries. Violence against women is perpetuated.
In 2008 a campaign began in India to help end domestic violence against women. Bell Bajao (Ring the Bell) calls on men to help end violence against women by taking direct action to end violence when they hear it. The campaign encourages men to literally ring the doorbell or knock on the door when a woman is being hurt within the home, in order to distract the abuser and hopefully end the immediate act of violence. The campaign includes teaching men and boys to have respect for women and “transforms brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers into advocates for women’s empowerment”.
The campaign asks the question: Have you rung the bell—literally or figuratively—to interrupt domestic violence (or bullying, harassment, or other forms of abuse)?
If only there was a bell to ring to stop the death of infant girls in the womb from the violence of sex selective abortion.
If only husbands, fathers and mothers could be transformed into protectors of children in the womb, regardless of the child’s sex.
Then, the world would make great progress in preventing violence against women and girls, right from the start.