Uphill Battle Against Child Marriage Is Winning in India, for Now 印度打擊童婚見效了
文/Kai Schultz and Suhasini Raj
The well-wishers had all gathered even though neither the teenage bride-to-be nor her mother wanted the girl to go through with the wedding. It took a police raid to stop it, and even then it was nearly too late.
It is hard to state the age of Deepa Kumari, the betrothed girl, with any certainty. A government identification card lists it at 15. Her father, accused of selling Deepa for about $300 to the groom, a 31-year-old laborer, insists that she is 17. A local constable put the number at 13.
In any case, by dusk on that February evening, a group of plainclothes police officers stormed the village of Madhura in Bihar state. They chased men into fields and detained the bride and groom, already covered in turmeric powder to prepare for the ceremony, for further questioning.
Speaking to reporters at the police station later, Deepa Kumari, with downcast eyes, made her position clear: "I will not marry, sir," she said. "I want to study."
India's child marriage rate is one of the highest in the world, with a long list of social and economic pressures, from poverty to a dearth of education opportunities, propping up the number.
But as awareness has spread about the detriments associated with underage marriages, and as the authorities have responded more diligently, the prevalence has dropped. In some areas, it has done so sharply.
Data released by UNICEF this month found that a girl's risk of marrying before her 18th birthday in South Asia fell by more than a third in the last decade, from nearly 50 percent to about 30 percent, in large part because of progress in India.
Child marriage here is finely threaded with other practices, including the exchange of a dowry from the bride's family to the groom, and sometimes with sex trafficking, making it difficult to tackle any one issue without addressing others. Social workers said there are no easy solutions.
"You cannot wave a magic stick," said Anand Madhab, principle consultant at the Gender Resource Center, an organization that supports women's empowerment. "It's a deep-seated problem."
Bihar, a poor, agrarian state in northern India, has one of the highest rates of underage marriages in the country, according to India's National Family Health Survey. In 2005, 69 percent of surveyed women said they married when they were underage. Ten years later, the number fell to 42.5 percent.
至於片語prop up意指「支撐、支持」，相同意思的片語還有shore up跟stand up for等等，而俚語wave a magic wand（or stick） 指的是施展魔法，在文中則意譯為「擁有法寶」。
Americans Might No Longer Prefer Sons Over Daughters 對男孩有成見？ 美國人現在不重生男重生女
文/Claire Cain Miller
Around the world, parents have typically preferred to have sons more than to have daughters, and U.S. parents have been no different. But there are signs that's changing. It may be because there's less bias against girls, and possibly more bias against boys.
Gallup surveyed Americans 10 times from 1941-2011, and their answers remained virtually unchanged: If they could have one child, 40 percent would prefer a boy and 28 percent a girl (the rest showed no preference).
A new study, however, measured that preference in a different way. While having a daughter versus a son used to make U.S. parents more likely to keep having children, theoretically to try for a son, now the opposite is true: Having a daughter makes it less likely that they keep having children. Some data from adoptions and fertility procedures that allow parents to choose the sex of their baby also shows a preference, to varying degrees, for girls.
First- and second-generation U.S. immigrants, the new study found, continue to show a preference for sons. They are more likely to keep having babies after having a daughter — particularly if they are from countries with less gender equity and lower female labor force participation.
Across cultures, the bias against daughters has been closely tied to women's second-class status. Sons have been more likely to be successful, carry on the family name and earn money to support family members in old age.
But the status of women in the United States has undergone a revolution in the last four decades. Women still face deep inequality and sexism, but they are now more likely to pursue rewarding careers and have a greater role in family decision-making. They are also more likely to be college graduates than are men.
Men without college degrees are struggling in the modern job market, which rewards brains more than brawn. And teenage boys and men are almost entirely the bad actors in certain crises the nation is facing, like mass shootings and sexual harassment. The diminishing preference for sons could indicate, among some parents, a growing bias against boys.