Monday, 5 May 2014

Because I Am a Girl: Tim Butcher (Sudan, Uganda, Brazil, Togo, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Cambodia)

Because I am a girl I am less likely to go to school

Because I am a girl I am more likely to suffer from malnutrition

Because I am a girl I am more likely to suffer violence in the home

Because I am a girl I am more likely to marry and start a family before I reach my twenties.

Seven authors have visited seven different countries and spoken to young women and girls about their lives, struggles and hopes. The result is an extraordinary collection of writings about prejudice, abuse, and neglect, but also about courage, resilience and changing attitudes.

Proceeds from sales of this book will go to PLAN, one of the world's largest child-centred community development organisations.

This is a collection of seven short stories about the lives of women and mostly girls, in some of the world's poorest countries, in particularly the things that happen to them simply because as the title says, they are a girl.

Many of the subjects are ones I have read about before - lack of education, lack of birth control, rape, domestic slavery, malnutrition and so on, but nevertheless, it is still shocking reading. The story that touched me the most was the one from Brazil, where girls as young as 12 or younger routinely have babies of their own, due to lack of education and healthcare - the Church of course forbidding the use of contraception. It strikes me that this is as much a men's problem as a woman's, for it takes two to tango and many of these young Brazilian men (I hate to generalise) will it seems do almost anything to get these young girls to give them what they want, afterwards casually casting them aside, like a sweet without its wrapper. Perhaps if the men were educated to use a different kind of wrapper, this type of thing would be a little less prevalent. It goes back though to that aforementioned Church - religion has a lot to answer to I sometimes feel.

The remaining stories are no less shocking, and ones that everyone should read - ignorance is not an excuse when books such as this are available. I may not agree with everything that the charity that is the beneficiary of this book does, for it makes it clear that much of their work is controversial, but I like to think that as well as educating myself, by buying this book, I am in some way small way helping the lives of women throughout the world.

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