Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Gender and India

For a detailed report on the terrible problem of gender imbalance in India (caused primarily by gender selecting abortion), this Washington Times report is worth reading. Some extracts:

Many families therefore elect to not have a girl at all. Medical clinics -- which Sister Mary calls "womb raiders" -- have advertised "better 500 rupees now [for an abortion] rather than 50,000 rupees later" [for a dowry]. The first amount is about $11; the second is $1,100.
Dowries are theoretically banned under the 1961 Dowry Prohibition Act, but enforcement is poor and other religious groups such as Muslims and Christians have been caught up in the custom...

Surprisingly, it seems it is the richer areas that have the biggest problem:

She cites the Indian state of Haryana, just north of New Delhi, which has the country's second highest per capita income. It also has India's second worst sex ratio, after Punjab state to the west. For every 1,000 boys born in Haryana, just 820 girls were born, according to the 2001 census. In 1991, it was 879 girls.
Punjab is similarly wealthy; thus, instead of the poor killing their children, it's the rich, says Ms. Chowdhry, a former senior fellow at the Nehru Memorial Institute and Library.
"Punjab and Haryana are the two highest per capita income states, but they have such regressive trends," she says. "How can they call themselves modern?"

As for the extent of the problem worldwide:

Early this year, the British medical journal Lancet estimated the male-female gap at 43 million. Worldwide, Lancet said, there are 100 million "missing girls" who should have been born but were not. Fifty million of them would have been Chinese and 43 million would have been Indian. The rest would have been born in Afghanistan, South Korea, Pakistan and Nepal.
China gave an even bleaker assessment last month, with the government saying that its men will outnumber women in the year 2020 by 300 million.

There's a serious need for cultural re-education here.

UPDATE: if you don't trust the Washington Times on anything because of its right wing politics, you can read pretty much the same story (better written too) at The Guardian. The article confirms that richer areas in fact have the bigger problem:

India's paradox is that prosperity has not meant progress. Development has not erased traditional values: in fact, selective abortion has been accelerated in a globalising India. On the one hand there has been new money and an awareness of family planning - so family sizes get smaller. But wealthier - and better- educated - Indians still want sons. A recent survey revealed that female foeticide was highest among women with university degrees.

Wow. How is this going to be dealt with when even better education of the women is not helping?

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