Two news stories today are frightening and have me thinking a little today about gender and religion.
The first story, which is just gaining traction in the press, is about a Pakistani couple who sacrificed their three-month old baby girl in the hopes they would "get rich". Obviously this is sick behavior, in a variety of ways. Apparently the couple were advised to do this heinous act from a "witch doctor." How backwards is a society when people are still seeking out the advice of a witch doctor? Worse yet, when did becoming "rich" supersede the joy of being parents? Trust me, I know how hard it is being a parent now, and there are a few (very few, actually) times when I wonder if we'd have been better off not having had a child, but there's never been any idea in my head that we could just sacrifice him (or give him away, send him back, etc.) just for the money. In a segue to the next story below, I wonder if the parents and this "doctor" would have felt differently if the baby was a boy instead of a girl. And where do witches go to school to get a doctorate?
Rituals have been part of many of the world's societies through the eons, but I like to believe Earth's people have moved forward. Blind faith is another old tool of the mindless. When the witch doctor told the parents they would get rich by this sacrifice, did he tell them how this would happen? Would it be money in a rainstorm like frogs falling from the sky, or an insider stock tip? Personally, I would really need to see this person's credentials before putting all my eggs in the sacrifice basket. I'd have to ask him how many others got rich from this scheme, or the consequences of giving us the wrong advice (like if a sacrifice made them itch, not rich).
The second story was shown to me by my wife and it involves the drastic difference between the amount of men in China compared to women, and how in a decade's time these men will be without the possibility of a spouse because of it. China has a strict one-child-per-family limit to help keep down the population and an old notion that men are more important to the health of the society than women. According to the article, with the availability of ultrasound technology, parents can find out the sex of the child, and, given the importance of boys in the society, decide to abort a girl fetus to try again for a boy.
While I understand and agree with controlling the population (I sometimes wish there was a similar policy in the US), killing off females for the sake of the state is the ultimate in hysteria. I can almost "get" the maniacal behavior in the first story, given the religious nature of a ritual, but in 2010 it's hard to see how people still believe having a boy will grant them better wishes compared to a girl. Maybe it's China's lack of free outside information in the very rural areas that has not given them the memo that women are/can be successful. If the country isn't going to allow women the same access to gaining that success, then this ugly practice will surely go on unabated.
On a relevant side note, I was fairly pleased with China's response after its large 2008 earthquake that killed at least 68,000 people. It decided to lift the one-child-per-family ban to those parents who lost their children in the earthquake. No clue on how many of the families took advantage of this permission, but I hope there were a bunch of girls born because of it.