Monday, July 16, 2007

From the comments below

... Georgette has some helpful insights in response to the post on the pregnancy register being created by India. My response to her meanders onto a tangent (surprise! Hmm. Can one "meander" onto a tangent? :)). Thought I'd share both here in their own post.
eorgette said ... (Mon Jul 16, 04:09:00 AM 2007) :

Hey, G--

Although at first it seems like a PR ploy, since it would certainly not address the millions of pregnancies which go full term without any medical supervision at all, I think it may have a shot at preventing abortions among the women who DO have their babies in hospitals and under doctors' supervision. Those are the women who are more likely to have access to sonograms, after all, which determine the sex of the child (and sex selection abortion). Of course it will do nothing for the poor villagers who often resort to outright infanticide (burying girl-babies alive, as in a recent news item), but it may be a step in the right direction.

From my observations as a woman, and a Christian outsider here, I think the female-infanticide/abortion problem, at its root, is two-fold: One is economics (that dowry system has GOT to go!); and the other is a question of the appreciation of human dignity inherent in all men and women, equally. The government is trying to correct the dowry thing with laws that make it illegal, but how do you eradicate harmful traditions and superstitions which are, after all, at the heart of the injustice towards women? Those superstitions and beliefs also hold down the entire society, in its treatment of "lower castes" to the widow and the girl-child, who are all deemed "lesser" beings. I think Christianity is their only hope.

Oh, and Re: dowry injustices, have you seen this story about this woman who was abused by her inlaws for more dowry and also for having birthed a girl-child? This story is not a news item because of teh abuse she endured, of course--that is a typical day-to-day event that thousands, or millions, of women face here. The bit that makes it news-worthy is that she was lucky enough to have survived the dowry harrassments and got so fed up that she led this one-woman protest--and apparently has gotten somewhat effective publicity for it!

God bless,

Gashwin said ... (Mon Jul 16, 10:56:00 AM 2007) :

Georgette: thanks for those insights from someone closer to the reality! I'm very glad to hear that slowly some change is being made in attitudes towards dowry.

How does one change a culture? That's a huge question. Of course societies do change and grow organically. I think the idea of social "progress" (with all its promises and pitfalls) is a uniquely Western idea, rooted in a Judeo-Christian worldview of the in-breaking of God's Kingdom. This is not to say that it is only Christianity that can inspire change (look at the French Revolution!) -- however, this is one of the biggest exports of the West -- the idea of change of improvement -- to the rest of the world, I would suspect.

Of course I share your view that Christianity ought to bring hope and a way out of such oppressive customs. Often it has. But often (perhaps even equally as often? I don't know) it hasn't. Christianity was planted in India nearly 2000 years ago -- it didn't make a dent in the caste system. In fact, Christians adopted caste and caste-based identity (and discrimination) continued unabated, and still continues. Or, for instance, the way the Portuguese tied up Latin Christianity with colonialism -- including conversion at gunpoint and some of the worst aspects of the Inquisition, vile treatment of Hindus, etc. -- hardly advanced, in my opinion, the true message of Christianity and only imperfectly advanced the mission of Christ. These remain huge stumbling blocks, I think, to evangelization in India.

Of course now that's a whole different conversation -- if Christianity didn't instantly (or even gradually) bring about utopia, what is it's worth? The Pope, incidentally, addresses this at the beginning of his new book ... his answer is that it brought God -- the One Living God -- to all peoples. But, as I said, that's a different conversation.


Mac said...

Highly cosmetic, surely, in a place where legislative and bureaucratic fiat which goes against deep-seated conviction is merely something to be got around, whether by slipping a little baksheesh in the right direction or shopping around. When our third was on the way in Canada the hospital insisted on an amnio to check for Tay-Sachs disease (which was a genetic impossibility other than by some unfortunate mutation) and when the results came, the nurse said, "We're not supposed to tell you the sex of the baby. It's a girl." "Thank you for telling us, but why aren't you supposed to tell us?" "It's really intended for Indians: if they find out it's a girl they always want an abortion. You're obviously not Indian, so...."

Georgette said...

Hi, G--

You make some good points about the unfortunate failure of the missions in India. It may be true that many grievous errors were committed by these mere human beings. However, my point was more one of ideology. Ideally, if Christianity would replace the flawed practices and superstitions then the society would be transformed over night.

OF course, if Christianity were TRULY practiced anywhere in the world, it would change the society over night. The Kingdom of God on earth, as Christ talked about.

God bless!