No Boys Born in the Last Decade: "Village of Dames"

An EcoChi Vital Abstract

This article was posted on August 6, 2019 by Joanna Berendt, The New York Times.

The mayor of Cisek, Poland has decided to offer a reward for the next couple who have a boy in the village of Miejsce Odrzanskie. Scientists and TV crews search for answers about this small Polish village where no boy has been born in almost a decade. The detail first attracted the attention of the Polish news media when the village sent an all-girl team to a regional competition for young volunteer firefighters. “Some scientists have expressed interest in examining why only girls have been born here,” said Rajmund Frischko, the mayor of the commune of Cisek, which includes the village. He said he had just spoken to a retired doctor from central Poland who said that a baby’s sex depended on the woman’s diet, which should be rich in calcium if she wants to have a boy. “And if that doesn’t work,” the mayor laughed, “there is always the tried way of the Polish highlanders: If you want a boy, keep an ax under your marital bed.” In the years since the last baby boy was born, there have been 12 births in the village, an agricultural community on the edge of the smallest and least populated province in Poland. Like so many other Polish villages, this one has seen a steep decline in population. After World War II, it had about 1,200 people; now there are 272. Since the collapse of Communism in 1989, emigration has hollowed out the country’s sparsely populated areas, a trend that accelerated after the country joined the EU in 2004. More than two million Poles now live elsewhere in Europe. “Some villagers are concerned who will fill the farming jobs in the future,” Krystyna Zydziak, Mayor of the village of Miejsce Odrzanskie, said. Summer is a busy time here. Many girls labor in the fields. Adrianna Pieruszka, 20, has spent a chunk of her summer holiday driving a tractor across her parents’ wheat fields, although it is the fire department that is her passion. The volunteer fire department has become the center of social life. The youngest recruit is 2 years old. “We have hardly any boys on the team, but we have been winning major competitions in Poland ever since we were founded,” Ms. Pieruszka said, sitting amongst dozens of medals and golden cups on display. Tomasz Golasz, a professional firefighter who founded the village’s youth fire brigade, said it wasn’t his idea to do so. “A group of girls approached me in 2013 and asked that I train them for a competition,” he said. “These girls live and breathe it. There is so much passion and determination. For two months before every competition, they come to train every day after school.” Malwina Kicler, 10, who has been training to be a volunteer firefighter for three years, said that most girls did not mind the absence of boys on the team. “Boys are noisy and naughty,” she said. “At least now we have peace and quiet. You can always meet them somewhere else.” Just maybe not in the village.

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