Saturday, May 01, 2010

Baby girls

Most people know China and northern India have unnaturally large numbers of boys.

But few appreciate how bad the problem is, or that it is rising.

In China the imbalance between the sexes was 108 boys to 100 girls for the generation born in the late 1980s; for the generation of the early 2000s, it was 124 to 100.

In some Chinese provinces the ratio is an unprecedented 130 to 100.

The destruction is worst in China but has spread far beyond.

Other East Asian countries, including Taiwan and Singapore, former communist states in the western Balkans and the Caucasus, and even sections of America’s population (Chinese- and Japanese-Americans, for example): all these have distorted sex ratios.

Gendercide exists on almost every continent.

It affects rich and poor; educated and illiterate; Hindu, Muslim, Confucian and Christian alike.

For those who oppose abortion, this is mass murder.

For those such as this newspaper, who think abortion should be “safe, legal and rare” (to use Bill Clinton’s phrase), a lot depends on the circumstances, but the cumulative consequence for societies of such individual actions is catastrophic.

China alone stands to have as many unmarried young men—“bare branches”, as they are known—as the entire population of young men in America.

In any country rootless young males spell trouble; in Asian societies, where marriage and children are the recognised routes into society, single men are almost like outlaws.

Crime rates, bride trafficking, sexual violence, even female suicide rates are all rising and will rise further as the lopsided generations reach their maturity

It is no exaggeration to call this gendercide.
Women are missing in their millions—aborted, killed, neglected to death.
In 1990 an Indian economist, Amartya Sen, put the number at 100m; the toll is higher now.
The crumb of comfort is that countries can mitigate the hurt, and that one, South Korea, has shown the worst can be avoided.
Others need to learn from it if they are to stop the carnage.
South Korea had a sex ratio almost as skewed as China’s.
Now, it is heading towards normality.
It has achieved this not deliberately, but because the culture changed.
Female education, anti-discrimination suits and equal-rights rulings made son preference seem old-fashioned and unnecessary.
The forces of modernity first exacerbated prejudice—then overwhelmed it.
But this happened when South Korea was rich.
If China or India—with incomes one-quarter and one-tenth Korea’s levels—wait until they are as wealthy, many generations will pass.
To speed up change, they need to take actions that are in their own interests anyway.
Most obviously China should scrap the one-child policy.
The country’s leaders will resist this because they fear population growth
Sadly this seems like a story that will run and run with no pleasant outcome in sight

No comments: