Monday, January 09, 2006

500,000 Extra Abortions of Girls in India

Some days it must be rough to be a feminist. A Lancet study indicates that since the advent of sex-determining ultrasounds and widely-available abortion, half a million more girls than boys are aborted each year in India alone - with similar patterns in other countries of the region.

A lot of people will use their "choice" to kill girls, because they don't value girls as much as they do boys. Millions of girls are being killed - not because their parents don't want or can't support a child, but because their parents don't want a girl. They are being killed, in other words, solely and specifically because of their gender.

Abortion per se is bad enough, but at least in the case of someone who fears another child would put their family in poverty or endanger their life, there is a positive motive, however misguided. Deciding to terminate a life because it possesses the wrong genitalia is simply monstrous. Yet the only possible motivation for anti-abortion advocates, according to some, is hatred of women and a desire to control them.

I've resisted that framing for a long time. I still don't see the hatred of women part, but I'm going to have to cop to the control part. Yes - when people think it's OK to slaughter baby girls because they don't have penises, I'm willing to say that those people aren't competent to make moral decisions on their own, and have to be controlled by external force. I guess I can get out of jail on the misogyny charge - in a lot of these cases, the control would be exerted over the men pressuring/forcing their partners to abort, not the women themselves - many of whom, no doubt, would have been happy to bear a girl but were overruled.


Gahrie said...

I've been writing and talking about this for years.

I think you would find that far fewer of these women were coerced then you think. The practice of gender selection is hundreds of years old in these societies. Previously the deed was acomplished by simply abandoning the unwanted daughters. In these societies, daughters are seen as an economic drain on the family, and sons as an economic plus. The current crisis is a result of modern technology interacting with these long established social mores.

The gender selective abortions in both China and India have produced two generations in which there are millions of men in both countries that have little prospect of ever marrying and having a normal family life.

The stopgap solution up to now has been for the men of the older generation to marry women from the younger generation, but this just means that the problem is even worse for the men of the younger generation.

The key question is what is going to happen to these men. Are either of these countries likely to allow this problem to fester and cause internal unrest? And if not, how do they solve the problem?

I fear that if they examine the lessons of history, they may decide that wars of conquest are the answer, to either kill off the extra men, or seize wives from another civilization, or both.

flint cordoroy said...

It isn't simply a matter of the child having testicles as opposed to ovaries. The value is a function of gender roles. Indians and Chinese know they can only support so many infants, and would like to invest that support in male infants.

It doesn't really matter to us though. Most of us hope to make big gains in the stock market through outsourcing to India and China. Some of us will spend time voicing our concerns or reservations. But at the end of the day we have an extra helping of pizza and look up the daily performance of our stock portfolios.

Not that I'm saying we should do anything about it. India and China are massively overpopulated. We would all hate to live in India or China outside of the enclaves set up for western visitors and businessmen.

flint cordoroy said...

The solution excercised in China is the wide availability of brothels. This will be augmented once they allow more Chinese men to visit the brothels of south east asia. Another solution being excercised is the widespread availability of pornography, though once it loses its kick they'll probably move on to rape/torture pornography.

Another solution, often exercised in ancient Europe, is the institution of pederastry. Older men with adolescent boys.

mythago said...

Not following you, Robert--why do you think that ONLY people opposed to abortions could possibly be misogynistic?

Even if you were able to prevent the practice, the sexism won't go away. I guess it would provide a lot of adoptable baby Indian girls.

Ogilvie said...

Once you accept "the woman's right to choose", have you not forfeited any right to tell her when she can or cannot abort?