BY Ali Lakofsky IN THE DIPLOMACIST
India is witnessing the largest population explosion the world has ever seen. 41,000 new Indian children are born every day, and this number continues to expand exponentially. However, a growing concern for the people of India is the intense cultural preference to give birth to sons over daughters, and what is now even being considered a genocide by some human rights activists may be the cause of a major crisis much larger than India could ever imagine.
It is estimated that nearly 1 million baby girls are aborted each year in India preferential male births. In the last two decades, almost 10 million have been killed due to this phenomenon, often called foeticide or infanticide. Girls are considered a burden in Indian society, partially because of arranged marriages and the dowry that mothers must pay to the groom’s parents. The son also carries on the family name and inherits the property. Thus, girls are undesirable , leading modern Indian women to abort their female babies in order to avoid inevitable consequences. “Spend 500 rupees now and save 50,000 rupees later’’ is a common slogan used among doctors willing to perform the abortion.
Although laws exist that ban sex-based abortions, it is easy to avoid them and they are rarely enforced. India’s medical sector, which works as one of the most private systems in the world, is the ultimate culprit. It seems that doctors will do anything for a fee, and investigations against them are short-circuited by their wealth and social status, with many easily escaping charges and fines.
A recent Indian government census revealed that there were 795 women for every 1000 men in the rural city of Punjab. The statistics were no less surprising in the more upscale city of South Dehli. An estimated 60 million girls are now “missing,” leading India to fall into a detrimental black hole which analysts fear there will be no return. Men at marrying age are finding themselves without potential wives. Missing Indian girls has also lead to greater sex trafficking for the purpose of marriage and prostitution. The issue has also become prominent factor in politics, especially at the local level.. Candidates running for office pledge to “help provide more girls” if and when elected. ”We’re losing the battle,” said Ravi Kant, executive director of Shakti Vahini, an anti-female-foeticide organization that tries to assist trafficked women. “It is in every village. The police are saying these families are doing nothing wrong. There’s collusion between the law and the politicians, and it’s destroying the whole social fabric.”
Efforts continue to be made to end the female foeticide crisis, such as the Global Walk for India’s Missing Girls and the soon-to-be-released film, “Petals in the Dust, but how long will the problem remain status quo before it’s simply too late?
- Where have all the girls gone? (shaktivahini.wordpress.com)
- 13 Traffickers Arrested, 4 rescued in a week (shaktivahini.wordpress.com)
- “Wife-sharing” haunts Indian villages as girls decline (3quarksdaily.com)
- Trafficker from Bengal held, 5 girls rescued (shaktivahini.wordpress.com)
- US decision on India regarding human trafficking questioned (traffickingnews.wordpress.com)
- ‘Unwanted’ girls renamed in India (bbc.co.uk)