Day of the Girl Child

October 11 is International Day of the Girl Child. It is a reminder of the many girls around the world who suffer from female inequality, a reminder of our duty to acknowledge these girls so that we can highlight the need for change.

During the several years I lived in India, I witnessed countless examples of gender bias. One particularly brutal example is acid attacks. A Christian girl I know received a barrage of anonymous phone threats; acid would be thrown on her if she continued to date her Hindu boyfriend. The poor girl was too nervous to step out of her home.

Luckily, the man responsible for the threats was identified and an acid attack was thwarted. A teacher at my daughters’ kindergarten was not so lucky. Every day when I dropped my kids off to school I saw the misshapen face of the teacher. The skin on her neck resembled dripping candle wax. If her shawl slipped, her melted decolletage was exposed.

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Too many females have been disfigured by acid attacks across India and other parts of the world: a young lady whose spurned lover has defaced her with acid and stolen her sight; a low-caste girl whose nose has been eaten away from acid thrown by an upper caste man in punishment for her violating the caste order; a wife whose husband has partially deafened her and taken away the use of her burned hands in retaliation for dishonouring him; a teenage girl whose dowry harassment has left her with melted skin tissue exposing her bone; a woman revenged in a land dispute with two litres of hydrochloric acid poured over her body. Such brutal crimes are intended to silence women and girls who stand up for themselves. Let’s join together on International Day of the Girl Child to make sure these females and their stories are heard.

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