By Jeanne Monahan
Last week my brother and sister-in-law welcomed a new little lady. Sweet little Bella was an extra special gift and surprise because her parents, who have two young boys, were expecting another little boy but instead delivered a beautiful little girl much to their delight! Bella, of course, means beautiful in Italian. And a beauty she is.
I have always believed that a person’s name holds significance. Some people of faith even believe that God is so intimately involved in the creation of persons and their lives that He names his sons and daughters. Some parents entrusted with the life of a child prayerfully seek to “discern” the name of the precious life entrusted to them.
Sadly, this is not the case in India where disturbing gender biases haunt and hurt many women; this is played out even in naming little girls. A few weeks ago the Huffington Post ran a story about hundreds of young women who received the terribly sad name “Unwanted” at birth. It is horrifying to imagine a parent cruel enough to name a child “Unwanted.” only because the baby is a “she.”
Thankfully these young women are finding their true identify and part of that process involves changing their names. The Huffington Post reported that “More than 200 Indian girls whose names mean “unwanted” in Hindi have chosen new names for a fresh start in life.”
Why are these girls “unwanted”?
“The plight of girls in India came to a focus after this year’s census showed the nation’s sex ratio had dropped over the past decade from 927 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6 to 914.”
“Such ratios are the result of abortions of female…, or just sheer neglect leading to a higher death rate among girls. The problem is so serious in India that hospitals are legally banned from revealing the gender of an unborn fetus in order to prevent sex-selective abortions, though evidence suggests the information gets out.”
“Part of the reason Indians favor sons is the enormous expense of marrying off girls. Families often go into debt arranging marriages and paying for elaborate dowries. A boy, on the other hand, will one day bring home a bride and dowry. Hindu custom also dictates that only sons can light their parents’ funeral pyres.”
In the eyes of God eyes no child is ever unwanted. Every creature is inherently chosen (and loved) by the very fact that she is freely and lovingly made by a Creator who could have chosen not to create her. I hope that during this re-naming process the beauties in India are able to discover their true identity as daughters of a loving Creator.