Aug 302007

The Times (UK) has an exhaustive piece about the horrendous rates of femicide in India. While it may look like the quotes below are long, they are only a small part of the article and I highly recommend reading the entire article although I guarantee it won’t be an easy read. According to the article,

“Although sex-selection tests have been illegal in India since 1994, unwanted female babies are now being aborted on such a staggering scale that it is estimated India has lost 6 to 10m girls in the past 20 years, a large proportion of the abortions being carried out at five- to six-month term. While abortions have long been legal in India, choosing to terminate pregnancy because of the child’s sex is not. But such practice is now so widespread that some experts estimate the figure could soon rise to nearly 1m girls lost every year as a result of this “female foeticide?

One recent Unicef report estimated that that figure had already been far surpassed, with 7,000 fewer girls born in India every day because of sex-selective abortion – though this calculation has since been questioned – amounting to more than 2m “missing girls a year.”

It’s important to understand that,

“India is not alone in aborting a huge number of baby girls. The backlash to China’s long-term one-child policy, and determination of parents that this one child be a boy, have already led to such wildly skewed sex ratios that it is estimated 30 to 40m Chinese men – called “bare branches – could fail to find brides by the end of the next decade, which some predict could lead to considerable social and political unrest Other affected countries in Asia include Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan and South Korea. But in India, where population growth now far outstrips that of China, with an estimated 25m births annually compared to China’s 17m – together these two countries account for about one-third of all births globally – the consequences of such distorted demographics could be even more dire.”

The Times quotes the wise observation of Dr Puneet Bedi, “a respected obstetrician specialising in foetal medicine and adviser to the Indian government” who says,

“Just as throughout history euphemisms have been used to mask mass killings, terms like ‘female foeticide’, ‘son preference’ and ‘sex selection’ are now being used to cover up what amount to illegal contract killings on a massive scale, with the contracts being between parents and doctors somehow justified as a form of consumer choice?

As the article points out, this is a human rights atrocity that the West has ignored until the point was made that all of this girl-killing could lead to frustrated men turned violent.  In other words, by deeming women unworthy of life, they have created a situation that denies men their perceived privilege and the latter is a problem that must be solved.  Doesn’t get much more patriarchal than that, does it?   But as the authors correctly make clear, until these killings are recognized for the misogynist genocide that they are, the femicide will continue.

“That the West is beginning to pay more attention to such distorted demographics in Asia because of the potential security risk millions of testosterone-charged, frustrated bachelors could pose is deeply offensive, say activists. Yet the publication of a book by the political scientists Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer entitled Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia’s Surplus Male Population, three years ago, led to a flurry of news headlines and alarmist predictions of the “chilling” increased threat of war, crime and social unrest in China and India as a result. The book talks of the possibility that ever-increasing numbers of unmarried men in both countries will push Chinese leaders towards more authoritarian rule to control a marauding “bare branch” generation, and could threaten the stability of India’s democracy through a swelling population of rootless and marginalised males.

“For a long time the rest of the world condemned us as hyper-breeding,
and pumped a fortune into family planning. So the West must now accept
some responsibility for this situation, says Bedi. But he and others believe fewer and fewer girls will be born in India and elsewhere until what is happening is recognised, on both a national and international level, as the most fundamental breach of human rights: that of a female child’s equal chance of being born.

Far from the shortage of women increasing their worth and standing in
society, as some might imagine, the result is the opposite. Women are
now being trafficked in increasing numbers from Indian states where sex ratios have declined less rapidly. Some are sold into marriage. Others are forced to engage in polyandry – becoming wife to more than one man, often brothers. Those that fail to produce sons are often abandoned, sometimes killed. This further perpetuates the cycle of prejudice and injustice, ensuring many women themselves prefer to give birth to a son to ensure no child of theirs suffers a similar fate.

Unicef recently concluded that “the alarming decline in the child sex-ratio [in India] is likely to result in more girls being married at a younger age, more girls dropping out of education, increased mortality as a result of early child-bearing and an associated increase in acts of violence against girls and women such as rape, abduction, trafficking and forced polyandry.”

Many thanks to Dr. Lynette Dumble of the Global Sisterhood Network for bringing this article to our attention.

 August 30, 2007  Posted by on August 30, 2007

  2 Responses to “The Horrendous Reality of Femicide in India and Other Countries”

  1. […] 3.  And in countries such as China and India, there has been a systemic campaign of favoring the births of male children over females: There are about 100 million women less on this earth than there should be. Women who are “missing” since they are aborted, burnt, starved and neglected to death by families who prefer sons to daughters. This column had also identified the countries of South Asia, East Asia, West Asia and Saharan Africa as the main regions which were missing most of these women. The estimated number of women who are missing are 44 million in China, 39 million in India, 6 million in Pakistan and 3 billion in Bangladesh. This is the single largest genocide in human history. Ever. Some researchers have coined a word for this phenomenon: Femicide, or the killing of the human female because she is female. (Note:  see also here and here.) […]

  2. […] Feminist Peace Network […]

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