To the day I die, I’ll never forget how the operating room filled with the smell of charred flesh and burnt hair from the young Indian woman laying on the table. 

Her dark skin peeled off her body like a snake shedding its skin.  The surgeons performed an escharotomy, cutting her skin allowing for the intense swelling that occurs when a body has been burned.

As I looked at the burns covering eighty percent of her body, I caught my first glimpse of the way some women are treated in the world today.

I was seventeen…my father offered to bring me with him to work, as a consolation prize for not allowing me to attend a raging party.

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I don’t know what her ‘offense’ was, but it was enough to cause her husband to bind her and light her on fire in a parking lot…a parking lot in Michigan.   In India, it’s doubtful if anyone would raise an eyebrow.  It’s the way disobedient or undervalued wives are ‘handled.’

Recently, I provided anesthesia for a woman, badly burned and it brought back the memories from more than twenty years ago. (and people wonder why I’ve made a turn career wise towards interior design…it’s a much happier place).

It has to be a depressing thought for some Indian girls, knowing their future is not in their hands – knowing their livelihood depends on a whim of male family members.

That is assuming, they are even born.

The disparagement for females is so strong in India and China that many females are aborted- just because they’re girls.  According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), up to 50 million girls and women are missing from India’s population.  In China- same story, different country.

While the government of India has tried to curb this practice by banning gender-revealing ultrasounds and celebrating a national ‘Girl Child Day’, some just find it easier to get rid of their little girls.

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Lakshmi, a 28 year old mother murdered her second baby girl by refusing to feed her.  Answering why, she stated, “Instead of her suffering the way I do, I thought it was better to get rid of her.”

If that many little girls are being executed, it should come as no big surprise that over 8,000 women in India are burnt to death because their dowry is seen as too immodest.

I won’t be attending any holiday parties this year (can we get a more first world problem than that one?), and a lot of us may miss out on seeing family, which really sucks.

Let’s remember to place that in perspective. I have the freedom to own my own business, Swatts & Co Design Studio AND still work as a Nurse Anesthesiologist (CRNA).  I have a husband who treats me with love and respect. I can be a mom to my three children AND do the work I love.

While we moan about 2020 and our lives during Covid and how much it all sucks (it does suck and we can moan!), don’t forget the helpless woman laying in the operating room.

Go a little further and reach out to your local womens shelter and donate some money for a year end gift. Many non-profits are hurting this year because of Covid. If you have the ability & it’s safe, offer to volunteer.

This genocide can be stopped only with awareness and empowerment of the women who are at risk.  Educated women are not only able to make a living, but are able to stop the myth that says girl babies are unlucky and a drain on resources.

I promise you that giving to people who need it will make you feel 100x better, and go a long ways to help curing whatever is ailing you this season.