Killing Baby Girls in India & China: Yet Another Kind of Terrorism
In a recent review paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of British and Chinese researchers argue that sex selection in countries like China and India may have already set the stage for national crises by creating a surplus of men and a shortage of women. For more read here.
Being born as a male of the species in India, I can vouch for the pampering boys and young men are accustomed to in an average family in India. However, there are few places in India where owing to links to past matriarchal societies women also enjoy privileged status. The obsession for son preference against a background of patriarchal social framework (to carry the family name forward, support in old age and for performing last rites); the girl child has been invariably relegated to secondary status.
With the development of new technologies in sex selection a major crisis is developing with some parents opting to do away with baby girls so that they are spared the ‘agony and shame’ of bringing up a girl child. There are still issues like ‘family honour’ and dowry that matter, especially in north and western India.
More than 10 million female births in India may have been lost to abortion and sex selection in the past 20 years, according to medical research.
The researchers said the “girl deficit” was more common among educated women but did not vary according to religion. In most countries, women slightly outnumber men, but separate research for the year 2001 showed that for every 1,000 male babies born in India, there were just 933 girls.
In cases where the preceding child was a girl, the ratio of girls to boys in the next birth was 759 to 1,000. This fell even further when the two preceding children were both girls. Then the ratio for the third child born was just 719 girls to 1,000 boys.
In early July, the media stumbled on to the increasing practice among Indian parents of accessing through the Internet facilities available in the US guaranteeing a male issue even at the pre-conception stage, says a recent article.
“A process based on PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) or ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) technique that could make sex determination of the child possible at the conception level by taking one healthy sperm for fertilisation of the egg with freedom to chose Y over X chromosome.
“New techniques have been developed in America, which combine the spectacular advances in molecular genetics and assisted reproductive technology (ART), to enable physicians to identify genetic diseases in the embryo, prior to implantation, before the pregnancy is established.
“For the Indian community in America, though, this technique came handy to perpetuate even while on alien soil their ancient prejudices. Quick on the uptake to realise its commercial potential, websites of fly-by-night operators sprung up in the US offering the facility to Indian couples across the globe – and true to form with enough gullible or eager Indians to bite the bait for dubious use at the Indian end.”
Says Wikipedia: “There is a strong imbalance in sex ratios in China as well as Japan, India, and Taiwan, probably the result of sex-selective abortion. In addition, there appears to be some sex-selective abandonment of infants to circumvent China’s one child policy.
“Female deselection is common in China: Chinese tradition says that most parents want their first child to be born a male. Female deselection is also due to deeply rooted Confucian traditions, and Chinese parents desire sons in order to make familial propagation, security for the elderly, labor provision, and performance of ancestral rites. China calls the female deselection situation the ‘missing girl’ problem.”