Saturday, October 22, 2011
What's In A Name?
On Saturday, 285 girls in the Satara district of Maharashtra state in central India took part in a renaming ceremony for themselves. You see every single one of them had been given names that meant "unwanted." Can you imagine? Your whole identity beginning with the title of unwanted. I was astounded.
Government officials were prompted to hold such a ceremony because the latest census results show that ratio of girls to boys has dropped sharply. There are now 914 girls for every 1000 boys under the age of six. In Maharashtra that ratio is even lower with only 883 girls for every 1000 boys under the age of six and in Satara district, the ratio drops even further. Many believe this is due to the extreme gender bias that exists.
In India, girl fetuses are often aborted once the sex of the child is learned. Hospitals are forbidden to reveal the gender of an unborn babe as a preventative measure, but the truth gets out anyway. Girl children in many cases are neglected so they die young.
The name often given to girls is Nakusa or Nakusi which means "unwanted." Dr. Bhagwan Pawar, who came up with the idea for the renaming ceremony, says in a quote to AP "Nakusa is a very negative name as far as female discrimination is concerned." On Saturday these beautiful, extraordinary young women came forward and took their power back. They shed their horrible birth names and renamed themselves. They chose to be called "Aishwarya" after the gorgeous Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai. They chose "Savitri" after the goddess and "Vaishali" which means "prosperous, beautiful and good." One girl chose "Ashmita" meaning "very tough" or "rock hard."
The article, by Chaya Babu from the Associated Press, is here. The article is enlightening and shocking. I always understood that a name is powerful, but I guess I never really thought about it outside of my own stories. I am so happy that these girls were given the opportunity to rename themselves. They have forged a new path on life. I am in awe of the courage it took for them to make such a decision and go to this ceremony. Just look in those gorgeous eyes and see the hope and strength. Those girls, like the Nobel winners I posted, are what true Girl Power is all about.
To those girls and my fellow females everywhere, here's Pink with "Fuckin' Perfect" cuz we are ALL fuckin' perfect.
** The image above is from the Associated Press.