Female foeticide getting worse in North-West India


by Rumbold
22nd June, 2008 at 6:01 pm    

According to a new study by the charity ActionAid, the female-male ratio is worsening in North-West India, with one area in the Punjab only having 300 girls for every 1000 males amongst higher cast families:

“More than 6,000 households in sites across five states in north-western India were interviewed and statistical comparisons were made with national census date. Under “normal” circumstances, there should be about 950 girls for every 1,000 boys, the charity said. But it said that in three of the five sites, that number was below 800. In four of the five sites surveyed, the proportion of girls to boys had declined since a 2001 census, the report said.”

Full report here. It is said that already China is facing an aging population as a result of its one-child policy. Will the same thing happen in India? That the two countries with the largest populations should get old before they get rich is a frightening prospect in economic terms, apart from anything else.


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Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,Current affairs,India,Sex equality






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  1. Gurpreet2 — on 22nd June, 2008 at 7:45 pm  

    Sickening practice.

    However since when does one caste wholly occupy “one area of punjab”?

  2. halima — on 22nd June, 2008 at 8:04 pm  

    Interesting. I saw a video in 1999 when I used to work with Action Aid on female infanticide – the video was showing a classroom with fewer girls than boys and the question was asked – where are all the girls? As well as child labour/housework accounting for girls not in school – a very large number were absent because ‘they were killed at birth’.

    It would be ever more interesting to see if both China and India lose their comparative advantage in demographics- the population bulge /growing youth population in South Asia is the region’s biggest asset – without it, they may not be able to compete in the war of talent which economists say is where globalisation is at today. Economics isn’t usually a good way to promote gender rights, but seems to me that it is a good enough way to convince governments of South Asia to stamp out infanticide through stringent campaigns on awareness raising than ever before. Otherwise they won’t be able to compete in the global economy.

  3. halima — on 22nd June, 2008 at 8:12 pm  

    While staying on the subject of gender, it was fantastic to hear news of the landslide action in the UN this week proclaiming the use of rape as an instrument of war.

  4. Sunny — on 22nd June, 2008 at 8:49 pm  

    Yup Halima, very true. Though, given the history of partition, surely it must be obvious by now. I was more surprised it wasn’ already classified as such.

  5. Indrak — on 22nd June, 2008 at 9:31 pm  

    This is not news to me. [Nor is the fact that the watertable, in Panjab of all places, is both plummetting and rendered unusable from overuse + neglect of preservation systems.]

    Should be an easy one for the market to correct, eh?
    ..on the other hand, along with 70million single unemployed chinese men, there would be a newer version of the suicide bomb developed by then…
    On a 3rd limb, basic education correlates with staving off population growth.

    @ #2: china already graduates far more students than there are jobs; what’s wrong with countries of more than a billion people coming down? Even in proto-fascist [wrt castes] india, the lower orders are no longer so quiescent I’m glad to hear – ‘can’t get the staff, these days..’

  6. Rumbold — on 22nd June, 2008 at 9:53 pm  

    Gurpreet2:

    Sorry about that, a genuine oversight.

  7. digitalcntrl — on 23rd June, 2008 at 12:04 am  

    “Full report here. It is said that already China is facing an aging population as a result of its one-child policy. Will the same thing happen in India? That the two countries with the largest populations should get old before they get rich is a frightening prospect in economic terms, apart from anything else.”

    Would you not expect that value of women in India and China to increase substantially when he have hordes of unmarried bachelors? I am surprised it has already not happened.

    Fortunately, this problem is only this severe in parts of India. Hopefully the country as whole can stabilize itself.

    http://nitawriter.wordpress.com/2006/09/05/indias-sex-ratio-a-sad-state-of-affairs/

  8. Anas — on 23rd June, 2008 at 12:07 am  

    I don’t think people have thought this whole abortion of female foetuses thing through. If the point is that male children are superior because they carry on the family name then, given it’s 300 girls to 1000 boys, the chances are your son is gonna struggle to find the bride that figures so heavily in the equation. Do the maths.

  9. Nav — on 23rd June, 2008 at 1:49 am  

    the population bulge /growing youth population in South Asia is the region’s biggest asset – without it, they may not be able to compete in the war of talent which economists say is where globalisation is at today.

    Erroneous.

    Their comparative advantage lies not in their population swell but in the fact that the Indians have brilliant scientists, medics, Information Technology experts and world-class entrepreneurs amongst them.

    Demographics play a much bigger part in the Chinese economic growth ‘miracle’ which, before long, will be exposed and falter as per their ‘One Child’ policy- no kids today means no one to manufacture our goods and export them to us tomorrow.

  10. digitalcntrl — on 23rd June, 2008 at 3:12 am  

    “Their comparative advantage lies not in their population swell but in the fact that the Indians have brilliant scientists, medics, Information Technology experts and world-class entrepreneurs amongst them.

    Demographics play a much bigger part in the Chinese economic growth ‘miracle’ which, before long, will be exposed and falter as per their ‘One Child’ policy- no kids today means no one to manufacture our goods and export them to us tomorrow.”

    Careful there Nav, your beginning to sound like my grandpa, an ardent nationalist from the old country : )

    That being said may Chinese are also pretty brilliant, one only needs to see any university in the US where the graduate depts of engineering are full of FOB Chinese and Indians.

  11. halima — on 23rd June, 2008 at 6:54 am  

    Sure .. demographics by itself doesn’t produce growth. People talk about a demographic window of opportunity -meaning governments need to invest in human capital ( health and education) so the growing number of young people can also be productive to take advantage of the demographic window. No point having unproductive youths that can’t actually work and contribute to growth.

    China has invested in education as have many south east asian neighbours. We can’t say the same for South Asia – the potential for brilliant engineers etc can only be realised if you can invest in a universal education system for the country as a whole. India still has some way to go.

  12. Tim Worstall — on 23rd June, 2008 at 11:03 am  

    Can someone enlighten this rather confused blogger?
    When is it “foeticide” (something I assume is used as a phrase of disapproval) and when is it “abortion” (which tends around here to be argued as being a right)?

  13. Rumbold — on 23rd June, 2008 at 11:11 am  

    Its one of those irregular verbs:

    I terminated an unplanned pregnancy
    You had an abortion
    She committed foeticide

    You are right though, in that foeticide is used when we are critical of the abortion, especially when girls are aborted for being girls.

  14. Indrak — on 23rd June, 2008 at 11:28 am  

    #12: is it like the monkey that can’t see when it covers its eyes?

    are you confused about rape and intercourse also?

  15. Tim Worstall — on 23rd June, 2008 at 2:30 pm  

    No, don’t think I’m confused about rape and intercourse. The latter is where both (or all) parties consent. The former is when one or more do not.
    How this helps us distinguish between foeticide and abortion I’m not sure: I’ve yet to see any consent forms signed off by any foetus subject to either procedure.

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