I’ve written before about the imbalance in birthrates of boys to girls in both China and India, leading to what is now termed “gendercide”. Because of increasingly easy access to ultrasound machines and sex-selective abortion, Chinese/Indian rates are skewing alarmingly. From the normal birth ratio of 105 boys to 100 girls, the preference for boys has during the past thirty years (more recently, for India) meant that birthrates skewed as high as 148/100.
This is true in India despite laws on the books preventing ultrasound determination of fetal sex, and also criminalizing sex-selective abortion. Few physicians or clinics have even been accused, fewer still tried in court (India’s legal system moves at a glacial pace). The pressures on young women to produce sons are enormous, with both husbands and in-laws insisting on boys, and in China the one-child policy mandating small family size. Even in the UK and US, statistics show that a third child born to Indian or Chinese parents is much more likely to be male, demonstrating that sex-selective abortion is being used by the prospective mother (often on a short visit to her home country) in order to achieve the desired boy child.
By 2020 (just nine years from now), China will see an excess of 24 million men. India will not be far behind, though its numbers will be higher among boys aged 1-18.
These boys and young men aren’t going away. More are being born every minute. In India, where the birth of a girl means a dowry must be paid at marriage (despite the official Indian governmental prohibition on dowry), observers once believed that gendercide was occurring all over India, and especially in poorer states like Bihar in the east.
Not true. The highest rates for abortion of female fetuses (these are extrapolated from the skewed male/female birth statistics) occur in the relatively prosperous north, and are especially high in Delhi and the Punjab.
Already, young Chinese men who cannot find a wife are termed “barren branches”. While it was once thought that thousands of male Chinese would find wives in neighboring countries (including India), that solution has vanished. With regard to India, in the next decades men there will find it almost impossible to marry.
The dearth of women has resonance in more than simply marriage. Indian pre-schools and elementary schools are becoming more risky places for girls, as reported in The Independent (April 15, 2011). Boys are more aggressive on the playground and in class. The few girls have no large cohort as they used to, to protect them from being injured, and they often fear returning to school, where teachers sometimes look the other way rather than controlling aggressive behavior by boys too often spoiled by indulgent parents.
It will take only a few years for co-ed junior high and high schools in northern India to become places where female students may be routinely abused by the overwhelming numbers of boys.
This will naturally lead to protests from parents of girls, and the likelihood that education may become entirely sex-specific up until university years.
Current reports indicate that already, young women from poor families in states such as Bihar are being sold as “brides” to men who cannot find matches in their own communities. The word “bride” is a euphemism. Judging from reports whose language is masked, the women are held as virtual slaves, raped by their husbands and accorded none of the respect a wife deserves in Hindu, Muslim or Sikh tradition.
In future, then, we are likely to see:
• Greater numbers of women and girls sold and even kidnapped, not for sexual trafficking, but for the sexual use of one man (or, perhaps, brothers)
• Pleas from families with daughters for more police protection and greater/faster criminal penalties
• Families with daughters banding together for protection, perhaps in joint housing compounds
• The hiring of bodyguards and minders to safeguard daughters
• Security forces patrolling schools and universities in greater numbers
• More home-schooling of girls in India and China
• Restrictions to the movements of girls and young women, placed by their parents, leading to a sort of modern-day purdah
• Reversion to the centuries-old “marriage” of children, so that a girl-child becomes the wife of a boy her age, yet is raised within her own family until adulthood
• Asylum applications to the US and other Western nations by families who fear their daughters will be stolen from them
Future posts will deal with other issues arising from the unprecedented change in Asian birth ratios.