This past week in India 285 girls dressed in their best outfits, lined up in an official as well as symbolic ceremony in order to instigate change in the male dominated society of India. These girls came from different economic and social backgrounds, but they all had one thing in common…their names.
Each girl taking part in the ceremony had either “Nakusa” or “Nakushi” as their name… the translation from Hindi to English… “unwanted.” These names stem from the traditional practice of preferring male children over female. In parts of India, families with female children often go into debt arraigning marriages and paying for expensive
dowries… a male child on the other hand brings home the dowry, and according to Hindu customs, only sons can light their parents funeral pyres.
The situation of male preference is so severe that hospitals in India are forbidden by law from telling parents the sex of a child for fear that parents will abort pregnancies of female children.
The girls taking part in this ceremony, most age fifteen or younger, have decided to declare that they will no longer submit to the daily humiliation brought about by names such as “Nakusa” or “Nakushi.” Instead, these strong, brave, young women have chosen to legally change their names to “Ashmita” (hard as a rock), and “Savitri”(daughter of the Son) or “Vaishali” (prosperous, beautiful, and good.)
Living in a country like the United States, I feel we all have a moral responsibility to work at creating a world based in equality.... equality regardless of race, politics, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.