For a long time China and South Asia were recording an increasing gap between male and female children, as a result of female feticide. Amartya Sen estimated that in China and India alone, there are 83 million fewer women than there should have been. It seemed like it would only get worse, with the gender imbalance making little difference. Supply and demand seemed irrelevant as females continued to be aborted in record numbers. Some areas short of girls even took to raiding other areas for brides.
However, new information suggests that the tide might be turning. Firstly, reports from China show that girls are becoming a more attractive prospect as a result of increasing urbanisation and rising house prices:
“Sons are seen as more valuable, especially in the countryside, because they have been traditionally responsible for caring for their parents in old age. Many families take advantage of cheap ultrasound tests and abortions to guarantee their one child is male.
However, the traditional roles are now being reversed in urban China. “The reality is that having a son or daughter makes no difference when parents need support. Unlike in rural areas, city residents are covered by social security,” said Chen Youhua, a demography and sociology professor at Nanjing University.
In most marriages, it is the son’s family which is required to buy a house for the couple – a ruinous expense in many cities. Property prices in China’s major cities soared by as much as 60 per cent between 2007 and 2008, and are expected to rise another 10 per cent this year.”
Meanwhile, in Delhi, the number of girls being born has outstripped the number of boys born, for the first time in decades.
Yes, neither report represents a comprehensive change, but it is a sign of progress.
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Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,China,Sex equality,South Asia