A call to end the destruction of gendercide

I have thought a lot about it and continue to explore deeper, searching for the roots underlying son-preference culture and the devaluation of women around the world. Although this is an extremely complicated matter, and, as an outsider my perspective is limited, here are some thoughts about one possible cause coming out of human nature.

A call to end the destruction of gendercide

The scale of the killing of female infants alone defies belief. Figures from the census reveal that the birth gender ratio for children aged now stands at girls born for every boysdown from The aggregate figure masks vast regional disparities. In Haryana, the state with the 4th highest GDP, the ratio is Aside from these extreme cases, large disparities are most evident in richer, better-educated, relatively urbanized areas and among the roll call of offending states are Maharashtra, Gujarat and Punjab.

If not aborted as foetuses, two mechanisms explain the high mortality of girl-children. Second, decreased fertility rates now 2.

Girl children tend to survive if they are the first-born or if a brother precedes them. The dropping fertility rate is partially the result of improved female education and employment. Foeticide among the urban, educated and affluent is facilitated by the proliferation of technology, the falling cost of illegal screenings and disregard for laws criminalizing gender selective abortions.

Modernisation therefore has not proved to be a panacea. Technology has expedited foeticide and, paradoxically, female empowerment has failed to eradicate the many social and cultural incentives to eliminate girl-children.

The host of social and cultural drivers include patriarchy, misogyny and the economics of marriage. Sons are heirs, of both the family name and estate, perform funerary rights and provide high returns on parental investments.

Having been looked after and educated, sons provide a source of labour, income, a bride-accompanied dowry and when parents grow old they function as informal care systems.


The opposite is the case for daughters. Custom dictates they leave the home and family upon marriage, and it is therefore the family gaining a bride that is the beneficiary of the costs of raising a daughter and amassing a dowry. The policy imperative is self-evident. Comparisons between and census data show that widening birth gender ratios are creeping into newer areas.

The tragedy of the mass elimination of women notwithstanding, the gender discrepancy gives rise to a number of damaging externalities. Violent and sexual crimes increase in populations with excess single young males, the shortage of marriageable women has increased human trafficking and sexual slavery including minorsand has led to the establishment of a pan-south Asian bride buying industry.

Men, unable to get married, now have higher suicide rates and perversely, rather than increasing the value and importance of women, their decreased number has tightened the patriarchal grip over their freedoms and sexuality. The urgency of the problem lies in the lag between normalizing the birth gender ratio and correcting these destructive consequences.

A call to end the destruction of gendercide

Culture and poor law enforcement are the obvious culprits, and in policy terms a supply and demand distinction is instructive. On the supply side, factors that facilitate and enable gendercide include easily procured technology, cheap sex determinations and illegal abortions.

Extensive legal prohibitions already exist. Sex determination tests were made illegal in the PNDT Act was further strengthened inas was revealing the sex of the child in The fact that foeticide continues points to the need for more effective law enforcement, greater official accountability, swift punishment of offenders and stricter controls on access to technologies.

Networks of informers carrying out sting operations have led to the imprisonment of many mal-practising doctors. But over-enforcement or over-criminalization risks forcing gendercide underground, placing both mothers — who are often coerced — and children at greater risk.

As many commentators note, families determined enough to eliminate girls will always find a way. Supply side solutions therefore offer no guarantee that demand for gendercide — son preference, the economic logic of eliminating women and ritualism — would end.

Gendercide is a practice in which men and women, of all ages, religions and socio-economic backgrounds are implicated. The policy challenge lies in effectively engaging with these diverse groups. Powerful efforts have been made to increase awareness, but combatting cultural norms is a no-guarantees, generational endeavor.

Policy action is necessary immediately and South Korea demands attention as a success story. In South Korea, high birth gender disparities have quickly been corrected, and the example highlights the importance of addressing underlying, macro causes.

A three-pronged policy of improving education, changing the laws of inheritance and better welfare provision for the elderly removed many of the economic incentives for gendercide.

In India attempts at reducing the costs of raising girl-children have been largely tokenistic: Addressing the causes of gendercide at a structural and societal level may be the missing piece of the policy puzzle.

Ram Mashru is a freelance journalist and south Asia analyst. He specialises in the politics, human rights and international of India; and has had articles published in a number of national and international publications.

We feature these contributions to foster dialogue and exchange on gendercide and invite our readership to join the discussion.The Stop Gendercide Now Petition will also be copied to the Secretary General of the United Nations calling on the UN to adopt a meaningfully proactive leadership role in ending the horrific practice of signalling out baby girls for abortion and infanticide.

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The end result of the soldiers' nine man society at first looks hardly dystopian — apart from the blood spewing pseudo-zombies and the general feeling of depression — up The Economist magazine wrote that "it is no exaggeration to call this gendercide", adding that the number of women "missing" in this way is well over a hundred million.

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