“More girls have been killed in the last fifty years—particularly in China, India and Pakistan—simply because they are girls than the number of men killed in all the wars of the twentieth century.”
Stop and read that statistic again.
I read it today in Work With Me by Barbara Annis and John Gray. It horrified me, and not just because I was once a girl. It was the fact that, for so many, females have no value. (We can point to the countries mentioned in the quote, but gender-selective abortions occur in our country as well; we’re just often a bit more cagey about it.)
The quote was a reinforcement of a yet-to-be-released book I read this week called An American Bride in Kabul. Phyllis Chesler is apparently a well-known writer on women’s rights, but this book takes us back 50 years, back to the transformative experience that put her on the path to being a feminist leader.
As a college coed (yeah, that’s what they called them in those days), Chesler, a Jewish American, fell in love with a foreign student from Afghanistan. They married, intent on seeing the world and making a difference in it. Instead, she ended up in Afghanistan, living practically as a prisoner in the home of her husband’s family, including his father and his three wives. She had no passport, no rights, no choice and almost no time with her husband, a man who instantly melded back into a life where wives were simply property, not partners. She had never felt so invisible.
Sick with hepatitis, Chesler manages to use a family squabble to her advantage so she can escape back to the United States. Her brief captivity spurred her on to research and understand the culture of Kabul and of Islam. She goes on to become a psychotherapist, write 14 books, and speak out to help Islamic women threatened by honor killings. She has lived the life of a woman in a culture where women have no personal value—protected, yes, but because they are property, not because they are equal persons with much to offer the world.
God says women have value because they are made in his image:
“So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
Women are as equally created in the image of God as men, and their lives should be protected and be allowed to flourish for God’s glory. They deserve an education, the opportunity to choose a life for themselves and the ability to use their gifts to impact the world.
What can we do? Here are some ideas:
1. Become aware—read books or watch videos like this one from the Invisible Girl Project.
2. Support a female child through a child sponsorship organization or an organization battling female genocide.
3. Encourage female education by supporting schools for girls in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.
4. Treat all women with respect.
5. Don’t allow your sons to disrespect girls or speak disparagingly about women. It’s not cute. It’s not “boys will be boys.” It’s wrong.
6. Pray, if you’re the praying type, that God will open hearts and minds and help all people—men, and women themselves—see women as valuable.
7. Share your additional ideas, here on the blog, on your Facebook page, in your house of worship. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.