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‘Femicide’ – from Foemina, Latin for woman - concerns the direct, deliberate killing of women or girls. Here it means the illegal abortion of unborn females. Barbarous and wrong, surely? So a ban on sex-selective terminations is proposed. Chilling how other foeminae, the feminists, oppose it. Alice in Wonderland, topsy-turvy kind of world?

Aristotle speaks somewhere of barbarous cultures. His nasty example is that of folks who kill, roast and eat their own children. Liberal, ‘civilised’ democracies are not as bad as that. They do kill their unborn babies virtually on demand, however. Femicide is a new, sinister development. The British media tend to pin the guilt on immigrant parents, either on grounds of boy preference or lucre. They blab about daughters needing ‘more expensive dowries’. Actually for Muslims the dowry (Mahr in Arabic) is paid not by the woman to the man but by the man to the woman. So, there.

Abortion used to be a criminal offence or felony in Britain but in 1927 the law was watered down. Later David Steel, a Liberal MP, introduced the Abortion Act that in 1967 ‘liberalised’ the whole thing. Significantly, 40 years later the same fellow urged a ‘rethink’. Pity that in the interim more than 6.7 million unborn children have been ‘terminated’. I would not wish to be in Steel’s shoes on the dreadful Day of Judgment…

Christianity set its face against the killing of the unborn from the beginning. An early Church writing, the Didache or Teaching, speaks of two paths or Ways. The Way of Life and the Way of Death. The latter includes murder, adultery, fornication, immorality, lusts, abortion and infanticide. This healthy Teaching accuses the pagans of ‘making away with their infants, defacing God’s image and turning away from needy but oppressing the afflicted’. I trust the stern moralist would not approve of contemporary infamies like sex-selective abortion.

The priest is not a moral absolutist here. The Christian Church has not always taught that life begins at conception. It has graded the varying degree of guilt incurred by abortionists depending on the degree of development of the foetus. I accept there may be extreme and limiting cases when termination is necessary, i.e. when it poses a real, direct threat to the physical life of the mother. (The mental criterion has been so abused as to have become meaningless.) But that has no bearing on the ghastly idea of gender-selective killing.

The war on girls is not new. It was widely practiced in pre-Islamic, Bedouin Arabia. Burying baby girls alive was so prevalent that a famous verse of the Qur’an inveighs against it. ‘When the infant female, buried alive, is asked for what crime she was killed’ says Surah al-Takweer, ‘The Darkening’. The idea is that the murdered infant will be questioned about her murder. Something to make the murderer tremble with the enormity of his crime – and punishment. The awesome scenario of this Meccan chapter is indeed apocalyptic. It warns of Hell ‘made to burn fiercely’ and of Paradise ‘being brought near’. Huh!

Note that the Prophet of Islam had several daughters, of whom he was extremely fond. His favourite, Fatima, Ali’s wife’, is revered by all Muslims but especially by the Shia’. They consider her ‘the Mistress of the House’ from whose line sprang their Imams. Anyway, it is unthinkable, I submit, that Muhammad would have approved of any modern, high-tech version of girl-killing. An article in the New Statesman cites an ‘Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation’ opposed to a legal ban on aborting female foetuses. Funny kind of Muslims!

But why should some feminists be against British MP Fiona Bruce’s amendment that would make gender selection, i.e. killing of foeminae in the womb, illegal? Journalist Sarah Ditun manages surreally to blast ‘male violence’. She conjures up a hypothetical, bullying husband who ‘punches and kicks his wife until she submits to a termination.’ Appalling case but odd how other feminists take the opposite line. They object to the law because they fear instead that some caring fathers might object to abortion on grounds of femicide, killing their child because she is female. Can you blame them? It seems that, whatever they do, men are bound to be cast in the role of rapists, wife-beaters and beasts. Some sadly may be like that but…not quite all, insh’allah!

Ms Ditun waxes more and more droll, even absurd. She invokes feminist writer Mary Daly’s onslaught on ‘misogynist logic’. A reasoning that supposedly ‘casts the foetus as something like an astronaut and the pregnant woman as the inanimate craft designed to protect the inhabitant.’ Ya Allah! Flying foetuses? Women’s bodies as soulless crafts? A bit too much.

More soberly, I recall Archbishop Rowan Williams’ common sense pro-life argument. Many women accept that they should not smoke or drink to excess while pregnant. Presumably that implies that sensible mothers recognise that what they carry in the womb has some ethical status and deserve some protection. Rather unlike an alien, menacing astronaut!

Barbarism. Currently a voguish word. Often applied to the horrid customs of the Caliphate or Daiish gentlemen in the Levant. Fair enough. But… are you so sure that another set of barbarians, the girl-killers, have not penetrated the hallowed walls of liberal Europe?

Revd Frank Julian Gelli

Last modified on Thursday, 12 March 2015 11:39

Frank Gelli I am an Anglican priest and cultural critic and commentator. I have BA in Philosophy, MA in Christian Ethics, MA in Islamic Studies, PGCE in Religious Education and Oxford Certificate in Theology. I have been a journalist & drama critic in Italy and England.
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