A bright-eyed, bubbly, powder-fresh little girl skipping about without a care in the world is a sight that gives one the warm fuzzies. For birthdays, Christmases, and even for no special reason, you shower her with gifts. And stores that cater to little girls have never-ending supply of trinkets and treasures. But did you know that just about the price of a few toys every month can buy life for a little girl in Nepal? For girls in Nepal life is anything but made up of sugar and spice and everything nice.
The stories about the plight girls are many and begin even before birth—aborted female fetuses, suffocation at birth, abandoned by family, child labor, debt bondage, early marriage, prostitution, etc. While the stories are many, they are commonplace. You don’t read much about these girls in the papers. Only a handful of organizations try to make a difference. Even the government has no social service or welfare plan for unwanted girls left of the streets to fend for themselves.
Consider these facts and you’ll see the value of sponsoring the life of a little girl in Nepal:
1. The general male female ratio in the world is 1:3. But in Nepal, because of the abortion of female fetuses, the male female ratio is 1: 0.9. (District Demographic Profile of Nepal, 2003, published by Informal Sector Research & Study Center). About 2/3 of the girls in Nepal lose their life before it even begins.
2. 7 percent of girls are married before age 10 and 40 percent by age 15. (United Nations research as quoted on EquityFeminism.com)
3. Approximately 63,230 girls each year are forced to labor. Of these 3,027 are under the age of 6. (District Demographic Profile of Nepal, 2003, published by Informal Sector Research & Study Center)
4. Every year around 10,000 girls, most between the age of 9 and 16, are sold to brothels in India. (Tim McGirk, “Nepal’s Lost Daughters, India’s soiled goods,” Nepal/India:News, 27 January 1997)
5. It is not uncommon for parents to sell their daughters and for husbands get rid of their young unwanted wives for US$200 to $600. Depending on her beauty, a girl can fetch anywhere from less than a water buffalo, to slightly more than a video recorder. Organizers in rural areas, brokers and even family members sell girls. Husbands sometimes sell their wives to brothels. (Tim McGirk, “Nepal’s Lost Daughters, ‘India’s soiled goods,”Nepal/India News, 27 January 1997)
6. “Deukis” is a system where by rich childless families buy girls from poor rural families and offer them to the temples as though they were their own. These girls are forced into prostitution. In 1992, 17,000 girls were given as deukis. (Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN Special Report on Violence Against Women, Gustavo Capdevila, IPS, 2 April 1997)