Monday, February 19, 2007

According to the Beeb, The Indian government is planning to set up a network of cradles around the country where parents can leave unwanted baby girls. The country has had a problem with sex-selection for a while now:

Research for the year 2001 showed that for every 1,000 male babies born in India, there were just 933 girls.

Research published last year estimating that the number of female abortions was as high as 500,000 a year was disputed by the Indian Medical Association.

Originally the biggest todo was over the use of amniocentesis or ultrasound/medical ultrasonography to determine the sex of the fetus, then selective abortion if the fetus is found to be female. I distinctly remember thinking to myself at the time this became Big News that's a problem, but it's better than infanticide...

According to The Lancet, according to Wikipedia:

...there may have been close to 10 million female fetuses aborted in India over the past 20 years. This is extrapolated partly on the basis of reduction of female-to-male sex ratio from 945 per 1000 in 1991 to 927 per 1000 in 2001. The female-to-male sex ratio is even lower in cases where a couple has had a previous daughter, but no sons, dropping to 759 to 1000 for the second child if the first was a daughter, and 719 to 1000 for a third child if the first two were both daughters.
Now, I think it's easy for us in the developed, "Western" world to shake our heads in disdain at this, because we don't appreciate the reality that, in primary or secondary-sector industry economies,1 parents may depend on their children for income, and male children are more likely to fare better. Add to that a socio-cultural/religious preference for (or need for) male children--one which is only a generation or so away in our own society--and you have a perfect storm for femicide.2

It would also be shooting ourselves in the foot, given that, in Canada at least, women spend twice as many hours caring for seniors as men.

  1. On a related note, check out this ridiculously awesome map on industry sectors. Although it goes to show there's a lot more to the story than sectors--compare how Canada and India have GDPs similarly tied to industry, but recall that certain industries, like mining, are sufficiently mechanized in Canada that women are capable of more than they have been, traditionally, in terms of primary sector employment.
    Note also
    this map on sex ratios worldwide.

  2. NOT "gendercide"...gender is psychological and social, so a fetus has no gender.

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