It’s a Girl Documentary (

Shockingly haunting, It’s a Girl Documentary forces us to acknowledge that the murder of baby girls still goes in many parts of the world without being seriously challenged.

The birth of a daughter is considered a misfortune while the birth of a son is celebrated in many cultures; but this lack of value for the lives of daughters ends in murder, female infanticide, neglect, and abuse in countries like India and China.

This documentary examines the age old custom of killing baby girls because daughters are a financial burden to parents. They have to be fed and clothed and their virtue closely guarded after they attain puberty and a husband procured for them. A daughter, if not married off, is an additional mouth to feed. She cannot go out to work in the fields or earn a living and provide for aging parents. The marriage dowry system of demands for cash and other goods by the groom and his family is another reason for dreading the birth of a girl. And, of course there is no return on this investment.

However, in this day and age, the killing of baby girls have also become greed based. Mothers are forced to succumb to family pressures and unscrupulous doctors perform selective abortions to fatten their pockets. Although selective forced abortion is illegal in India, these crimes usually remain undetected and unpunished.

The saddest and most outrageous part of this tragedy is the women are equally guilty of the violence against their own gender and willingly participate in the murder and torture of infant girls. Without emotion, a woman from Tamil Nadu tells how she murdered eight of her infant girls and buried them in the fields like useless pieces of trash. Baby girls are suffocated by putting a wet cloth over their faces, or given milk lace with poison, or their necks are crushed. Girls who are allowed to live are subject to neglect and abuse and most die from malnutrition and disease at an early age. It is important to note here that the killing of baby girls is not practiced among Muslims in India or anywhere else.

The extermination of girls in a male preferred society is an accepted fact of life in China, as well. Here the government encourages gendercide with the one child policy law. Paid informants report cases to the family planning police who conduct raids and force women who have violated this policy to abort the baby. Illegal children, born in secret, have no official existence in China. They cannot go to school, qualify for state health care or other benefits or get married. They are not citizens and therefore cannot travel abroad to exist outside the country.

According to this film, each year India and China eliminate more girls than the total number of girls born in America. “More females are missing on earth today from gendercide than the combined number of deaths from all the genocides of the twentieth century.”

This review of It’s a Girl Documentary is presented by Rukhsana Hasib, author of the novel, Shadows in the Sun. This underlying theme of Shadows in the Sun is female infanticide and one poor mother’s struggle to overcome the challenges and abuses for a better life for her daughter.

We must hear the voices of every mother and every daughter and get involved. We can create the change and ensure the birth of a female child is not considered a tragedy and that every girl is born in safety and lives with dignity as a human being. It is a matter of our mothers, our sisters and our daughters; it is a matter of humanity.


Voter Suppression and the Immigrant Voice


Rape–A World Issue

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Rukhsana HasibAuthor, Shadows in the Sun

Rape — A World Issue
Posted: 08/24/2012 2:44 pm
Abortion , War Crimes , Todd Akin , Conception , Crimes Against Women , Empowerment Of Women , Equality , Gender Equality , Legitimate Rape , Pregnancy , Rape , Violence Against Women , Politics News

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“Legitimate rape” doesn’t get a woman pregnant. These are not the ignorant words of extremists halfway around the world who subjugate women, and ban them from being literate or venturing out of their homes unless they are covered up from head to toe and escorted by a male relative. These inflammatory extremist views came from a United States congressman who openly diminishes women.

Republican Congressman Todd Akin was defending his staunch anti-abortion platform on Aug. 19, 2012 at a local television station. When he was asked about his opposition to abortion even when a pregnancy was a result of rape, the Congressman answered by suggesting that victims of “legitimate rape” cannot get pregnant because a woman’s body prevents such a pregnancy by shutting itself down.

The sexual brutalization of a woman’s body, carried out forcibly under the threat of physical violence against her, is called rape. And when a man forces a woman to have sexual intercourse with him against her will, he is committing a crime. Rape is a horrific crime and can never be associated with the word “legitimate.” Hence, the use of the term “legitimate rape” is utterly bizarre and morally reprehensible. It is a grave and injurious insult to mothers and daughters everywhere.

The congressman’s concept perhaps takes its roots in medieval mentality. Although women were generally suppressed and considered inferior and did not have basic equality, society had evolved to a point, and afforded women some legal rights. In a case of rape, a woman had the right to press charges, but she did so reluctantly because of a fundamentally flawed clause that permitted judges to throw out the case. If a woman who was raped got pregnant as a result of that rape, her case was considered unfounded. The reason for this injustice was because it was believed that conception could only occur if a woman was sexually satisfied during intercourse. Thus, if she were to become pregnant, the logical conclusion was that no rape had occurred. In spite of the violent intrusion of her body against her will, she had no recourse and could not charge a man with the crime of rape.

Throughout history, such violence against women has been justified by those men who have perpetrated these crimes and also by those men who have sat in judgment of these criminals. This statement by Congressman Todd Akin conjures up archaic and disgusting animated images of the caveman grabbing a woman by her hair, threatening her with his club if she resists and dragging her off, kicking and screaming to his cave to have his way with her. At the same time, these comments minimize the brutality against women and dismiss the severity of the crime.

Rape is a world issue and must be dealt as such. Soldiers still use rape as a terrorizing weapon during wartime. Women are physically weaker and therefore easier to assault. Soldiers who rape in order to demoralize a woman and terrorize their families have deeper issues and surely get some demented pleasure from subjugating those who cannot fight them on equal footing. It is pretty much like the sadistic act of repeatedly punching out a prisoner who has been shackled and cannot punch back.

For too long, society has enabled men to brutalize women. It is not just during wartime that men prey on women’s physical weakness to demoralize them, but we also find that anti-women mentality is pervasive in all walks of life. It is particularly disheartening to see it among elected officials whose job it is to protect the rights of everyone — which includes the rights of women. Rape is a brutal and demoralizing crime against women, and such statements as “legitimate rape” go to show that there is still a lot of work to be done to change attitudes toward mothers, sisters and daughters, right here in America.

All too often, women are blamed for these crimes against them and attempts are made to justify the criminal actions of men because a woman is said to have brought it upon herself by dressing provocatively. Or, a woman is accused of being a tease and therefore she was “asking for it.” One of the most insulting reasons that men have leveled against women is that when a woman says “no,” she actually means “yes.”

American women will no doubt rise to the occasion and defend their rights, as they have done over the years to overcome many obstacles to their progress. With education and hard work, American women have liberated themselves and have become socially, economically and politically independent. As daughters, they have stood on the shoulders of their mothers and grandmothers and have successfully empowerment themselves. They have travelled a long, hard road and worked way too hard to go back and let this one slide, not only for their sake but for the sake of women all over the world.


Assault on the Daughters of Swat Valley
The misfortune of being born a girl still horrifies those of us fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to reach for the light of social and economic freedom with the benefit of education.


Assault on the Daughters of Swat Valley

Assault on the Daughters of Swat Valley


Repost: Shadows in the Sun-A Book Celebrating Womanhood

*Original article can be found on Destiny’s Women –


It seems impossible that babies are still being killed in the womb, and even after birth, just because they are a specific gender, but it is a reality.  Female infanticide, or “gendercide” is still happening in the 21st century. It is the reason Bangladesh-born author, Rukhsana Hasib, decided to write the book, “Shadows in the Sun”.

From firsthand experience she writes, “Being from an Eastern culture, I am acutely aware of the abuses and oppression of women in Eastern societies, particularly among the poor. The birth of a daughter is still considered a misfortune by a vast number of people.” According to a 2011 report, 50,000 female fetuses are aborted every month in India alone.

“It’s a reminder of how horrible life still is for many women and why we need to support one another and the freedom of all women to be full human beings” –Reader

In some cultures, the birth of a boy is widely celebrated, while the discovery that a mother is carrying a girl in her womb is not. In fact, it is cause for grave disappointment, shame and even murder. The mindset changes from carrying a baby, to a nameless, faceless, “it”.  A girl.  A thing to be discarded and destroyed, just because of the gender. Countless news reports tell harrowing stories of mothers who throw their baby daughters out of hospital rooms, into rivers, or onto garbage heaps.

While India has outlawed selective abortions of female fetuses, it has not stopped the crime. Females in many parts of the culture are still considered inferior to males, and gendercide continues. A 2012 article by The Economist: The War on Baby Girls: Gendercide states, “for millions of couples, the answer is: abort the daughter, try for a son.”  Worse still, research reveals the belief and practice is not limited to the poor and uneducated, and is found on almost every continent.

“This book will open up controversial discussions in many book clubs about the roles of women in society and the difficult choices they have to make to better the next generation of women” -Reader

Through the story of Shadows in the Sun, author Rukhsana Hasib adds her voice to the millions of women who have stood up and fought for women’s rights, “with the hope that eventually our collective voices will ring loudly enough to be heard in every corner of the world.”

Many use “selective abortion” to get rid of female babies. Not just out of the womb, but out of the family structure, the society, and their place in the world, literally robbing them from their destiny. Rukhsana Hasib, along with advocates against gendercide look forward to the time when “the birth of a daughter is no longer considered a misfortune, as a mere shadow in the sun, but as valuable as the sun itself, which nurtured the earth like the mother who gave birth and sustained life.”

Long held belief systems are powerful, but not impossible to break through. As with any cultural shift, negatively embedded belief systems must first be dismantled in the mind. Life is a gift to be valued and honored, regardless of gender.

We need to protect, celebrate and empower the next generation of women. The more light that is shed on the issue of gendercide, the less room there will be for evil to propagate in the darkness.


*Original article can be found on Destiny’s Women –


Kalidum Village – India 1971

It was early in the day yet. Like all her other days, it began with her daily chores: washing, sweeping, peeling potatoes, chopping vegetables, grinding masala, boiling dal, cooking a big pot of rice, and pouring endless cups of tea, from an aluminum kettle, for her mother-in-law’s enjoyment.

This day, however, turned out to be no ordinary day. It would bring with it unimaginable changes in the lives of many.

Mayuri sighed. She prepared a little extra food, just in case!

“Will it come today, Maiee?” Little Rajani ran around her mother in circles, kicking up dirt with her bare feet and noisily sucking on a lemon drop.

“How should I know? It will come when it will come,” Mayuri snapped.

The child’s face clouded instantly.

Mayuri regretted her harshness and softened her tone. “Come and help me put these clothes out to dry. And Rajani, maybe, it will come today.”

Rajani perked up, burst into excited chatter, and ran to help.

Dragging her feet and occasionally caressing her stomach to soothe the uneasy feeling in the pit of her belly, Mayuri went back inside to tend to the dal she had left boiling on the wood-burning stove. She glanced longingly at the sleeping mat at opposite end of the kitchen which was her mother-in-law’s sleeping area and hungered for the taste of a little rest, a few minutes of indulgence to ease her discomfort.

But what would Mother-in-Law say? Mayuri feared the old woman’s anger. But her tired body urged her on. She would get up before her mother-in-law caught her resting.

She twisted her long black hair around and around with one hand, tied it in a bun at the nape of her neck, and sighed again. Her soulful dark eyes watered, and she squeezed her eyelids tightly together to stop the tears from rolling out of her eyes and down her cheeks. She sat on the dirt floor, leaned her head against the wall, closed her eyes and drifted off into an exhausted sleep.
“Do you have no sense, stupid girl? Look what you have done!” Mother-in-Law was shaking Mayuri. “The dal is boiling over. You think it doesn’t cost money?”

Mayuri’s long lashes flew open. She dragged herself up, adjusted her sari, and proceeded to contain the damage her few minutes of shuteye had caused.

“Just look at her?” Her mother-in-law sneered, speaking as if she was addressing an audience. “As if no one ever carried a child in her belly except this one?” She slapped her palms together and squashed a fly buzzing around the spilled food.

As the day progressed, the uneasiness in her belly turned into a slow burn, and then into a tortured churning inside of her. It was time.

“Go tell your grandmother to send for the midwife,” Mayuri called out to Rajani. “I think the baby is coming.” She waddled back into the shack, set a kettle of water on the stove to boil, spread out a straw mat, and lay down to wait while Rajani ran to tell her grandmother the exciting news.

Nimaii hurried to fetch the midwife while his mother put her palms together in prayer hoping Mayuri would give birth to her first grandson this time. She had waited patiently since her daughter-in-law gave birth to the girl, Rajani almost four years ago.

“I need a grandson,” she declared, “someone to carry on Nimaii’s name and earn money to feed us in our old age.” She urged Mayuri to try harder to fulfill her wifely duties in order to conceive again.

This time, however, Mother-in-Law was taking no chances. Regardless of the outcome of all her prayers, she was determined not to add more girls to the family. She knew the midwife had an excellent reputation for discretion in these matters, should the need arise.


Selective Abortion Outrage – Huffington Post Blog

*Original article can be found on Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” –


The birth of a daughter is still considered a misfortune by a vast number of people in many societies in India and other South East Asian countries, especially among the poor. The birth of a son, on the other hand, is celebrated. As a son grows up, he goes to work and earns money not just for himself, but for the entire family — because he is duty bound to provide financial and physical support for aging parents and because he will become the sentinel of the family name. When he becomes of marriageable age, he also brings a wife, who then serves the family.

A daughter’s birth is quite another story, however. Besides being another mouth to feed, the burden multiplies as daughters grow up. Their virtues must to be closely guarded as they emerge into womanhood so they can be married off without difficulty. A girl with compromised morals cannot be considered a suitable wife and will not be accepted by a potential groom. And if a suitable husband is not found when a girl is still young and fresh, parents worry that they might have to assume the responsibility of feeding and clothing her for the rest of her life.

The age-old custom of dowry demands by a potential groom, still prevalent in many parts, adds to the financial strain of the daughter on the family. Female infanticide, the killing of baby girls, is still practiced in some remote parts of India as a solution to the burdens of giving birth to a daughter. However, such practices are not just limited to the poor and the uneducated.

Modern technology, which has been made affordable, has found a new and easier partner in this cruel and inhuman crime. With the help of unscrupulous doctors driven by greed, expectant parents are able to determine the gender of the fetus through ultrasound procedures. Then, the undesirable female fetus is flushed out.

The killing of baby girls by selective abortion was made illegal in India some years ago. More than three dozen other countries have enacted such laws to prevent sex-selective abortions. However, enforcement of such laws is difficult, and authorities do not take it seriously. Many people use clever schemes to elude detection, like a woman having an ultrasound in one location and the abortion in another. In most cases, these greedy doctors are willing and active participants making such crimes difficult to intercept. What’s more, law enforcement officials can be easily bribed to look the other way.

The issue of female infanticide — discrimination against women and girls in its cruelest form — is getting quite a bit of attention these days. In December 2011, ABC’s 20/20 exposed some of these ultrasound death clinics in India that have found a new way to carry out an ancient and barbaric tradition. India’s prime minister went on record to call this crime against women and girls a national shame. Women, too, are equally responsible for this crime against their own gender. In this case, it was the husband who wanted his wife to abort the girl child, but it was the mother-in-law who attempted to push the daughter-in-law down the stairs to cause a miscarriage when she learned of the ultrasound findings. This is not just an issue of ignorance and poverty; it is an issue of ingrained cultural attitude and prejudices.

It is important to point out that women have come a long way and they are beginning to break free from enduring their established fate. More than four decades ago, a woman, Indira Gandhi, was prime minister in India. Today, many are not just mothers, teachers and homemakers but shine at every profession, including leaderships roles in politics. But in many parts of the world, including the Western World, a vast number of women are diminished and brutalized by men.

Last week, a GOP Selective Abortion Bill, which banned sex-selective abortions and was said to have targeted Asian-Americans, did not pass. This exercise, however, brought this serious issue into the limelight and put those who are guilty of this practice on notice.

Those of us fortunate enough to have a voice must speak up and add our voices to the millions of women who stood up to fight for dignity and for women’s rights with the hope that eventually our collective voices will ring loudly enough to be heard in every corner of the world. Women and men must work tirelessly to change attitudes and value women as mothers, daughters, sisters and wives.

Women give birth, nurture the young, comfort the old and pray over the dead. Most of all, women continue on with traditions and rituals that connect one generation to another. Yet they are regarded as inferior and diminished in a society dominated by men. Women have made great strides in their own empowerment with the help of local and global initiatives. When we value women, we empower an entire generation.

*Original article can be found on Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” –


Look What They Done to Me, Ma!

~A Poem~

She nurtures him in her womb.

Skin stretched tight over her swollen belly, she carries him till she is ready to explode.

Her insides are raw. It rips open as he pushes his way out and emerges into the world.

She snuggles him in her arms, birth gook and all, unclenches his fist, touches his little fingers, and her heart fills with joy as she suckles him to her breast, filled with unimaginable wonder of this little being that she grew in her body.

She laughs, she cries, and she pays no attention to the thick red blood that flows out of her. She holds him close, and she vows to protect him for the rest of her life.

She fetches and carries and cooks and cleans and lies with him as he humps and pants and indulges. She comforts him in his despair, nurses him when he is sick, and bears his children. She is burdened, she is exhausted, and still she carries on.

She rips out her soul and sets it aside, next to her aching heart.

Her time will come, she hopes. She is woman; a beast of burden, she lives to serve.

She gives life, nurtures the young, comforts the sick, prays over the dead, and becomes the thread which connects one generation to another.

“Slut!” “Bitch!” they yell as they spit at her and tear at her flesh and wound her soul.

“Hold her down!” they shout. They climb between her legs— thrusting, punching, hurting.

“Stop! Look at me! I am your mother. Your daughter! Your sister! Your lover! Your wife!” she screams. She lies in a pool of her own blood; eyes wide open, limbs broken, the stench of her rotting flesh nauseating her. She is beaten, raped, and murdered by those she loved and served.

Oh! My son, my father, my brother, my husband! She weeps. They do not hear, they do not listen, and they do not care. She gasps, she chokes, and the last part of her being dies—diminished.

They walk away, unmoved.


Sneak Peek: Foreword

Being from an Eastern culture, I am acutely aware of the abuses and oppression of women in Eastern societies, particularly among the poor. The birth of a daughter is still considered a misfortune by a vast number of people. As daughters grow up, the burden multiplies because of the age-old custom, still prevalent in many parts, of giving dowry to a groom and his family in order to procure a suitable marriage. The birth of a boy, on the other hand, is celebrated. A son is duty bound to provide financial and physical support for parents in their old age and becomes the sentinel of the family name.

When I learned that even in the twenty-first century, female infanticide, in some form, is still tolerated and practiced in some remote areas in India, I decided to tell this story.

Many use selective abortion to get rid of female babies with the help of greedy doctors who use ultrasound techniques to divulge the sex of the fetus. Some years ago India outlawed selective abortions of female fetuses. However, enforcement of these crimes falls through the cracks often and corrupt officials can be easily bribed to look the other way.

Women give birth; nurture the young; comfort the old when the end is near; and pray over the dead. Most of all, women continue on with traditions and rituals that connect one generation to another. Yet they are regarded as inferior by a society dominated by men.

Women have come a long way and are beginning to break free from just serving and enduring their established fate. Today, many are not just mothers, teachers, and homemakers but shine at every profession including leadership roles in politics. Still, in many parts of the world,
including the Western World, a vast number of women are diminished and brutalized by men.

Through the story of Shadows in the Sun, I add my voice to the millions of women who have stood up and fought for women’s rights with the hope that eventually our collective voices will ring loudly enough to be heard in every corner of the world. We will command the respect and honor we deserve as mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives.