War Against Women?

The U.S. has involved itself in many a war recently – but what about the war against baby girls? The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on the “systematic campaigns against baby girls” around the world, particularly in countries like India and China.

Biologically, the ratio of boys to girls born is 105 to 100, WSJ reports. However, India and China show vastly different demographics. In India today, there are 112 boys for every 100 girls born. In some Chinese towns, there are 150 boys for every 100 girls born. The boys per 100 girls statistics stands at 115 in Azerbaijan, 118 in Georgia, and 120 in Armenia.

How do we explain this gender imbalance? When these mothers find out they’re carrying a girl, they have an abortion. Oddly enough, “sex selection” is most common among the rich, well-educated sector of society. It is this group that gains the first access to technology such as ultrasound machines, which determines the sex of the baby early on. And when the elites set this cultural precedent, the effect trickles down to the rest of society.

And what does this mean for the world? 163 million female fetuses have gone unborn, leaving a global population disproportionately dominated by men – and the implications are huge. As the WSJ article suggests, societies in which men substantially outnumber women may be particularly unstable or violent. One reason may be because, if there are far more men than women, there will be many men without the hope of marriage. Furthermore, these men will number highest in the lower classes – where the risk of involvement in crime is already elevated. Much of this crime will be perpetrated against women themselves, who represent what the frustrated, crime-driven men cannot have.

Many side effects of the “marriage squeeze” are less obvious. If men in wealthier countries lack prospects for marriage, they may look to women in poorer countries for wives. This demand for foreign women, in turn, props up the mail-order-bride business – certainly an industry that has a negative impact 0n women’s rights. Even more disconcertingly, the demand for women props up prostitution in its ugliest and most inhumane forms.

The WSJ article ends off with a sobering ultimatum: “Restrict abortion or accept the slaughter of millions of baby girls and the calamities that are likely to come with it.” While I am firmly pro-choice and think this is an over-simplification, it does raise an interesting question: could unlimited access to abortion actually deal a blow to women’s rights?


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Filed under Asia, Women's Rights

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