Wednesday, March 10, 2010

From the Economist: Gendercide

The Economist has a couple of interesting articles this month about Gendercide, about the war on girls:
IMAGINE you are one half of a young couple expecting your first child in a fast-growing, poor country. You are part of the new middle class; your income is rising; you want a small family. But traditional mores hold sway around you, most important in the preference for sons over daughters. Perhaps hard physical labour is still needed for the family to make its living. Perhaps only sons may inherit land. Perhaps a daughter is deemed to join another family on marriage and you want someone to care for you when you are old. Perhaps she needs a dowry.

Now imagine that you have had an ultrasound scan; it costs $12, but you can afford that. The scan says the unborn child is a girl. You yourself would prefer a boy; the rest of your family clamours for one. You would never dream of killing a baby daughter, as they do out in the villages. But an abortion seems different. What do you do?
Take a look, too, at this article, the Worldwide War on Baby Girls, which takes the issue beyond China, discussing India (of course!), Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Bosnia, and noting gender imbalance in births in Chinese-American and Japanese American families.

Interestingly, the article argues that China's one child policy isn't really the culprit -- even without it, and even beyond China, people are looking at having smaller families. That, together with ancient prejudice against girls and technologies like ultrasound to determine the sex of a fetus, is causing the skew in gender rations. It isn't poverty, either, since in Taiwan and Singapore we see the same skew. South Korea also had a serious gender skew in the 1990s, but the authors of this article say it has now normalizing, and credits change in culture: "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, the article notes, South Korea was rich, which allowed this pro-girl culture to flourish.

The article doesn't necessarily plow new ground in terms of facts, but the connections and arguments made are fascinating.


Von said...

What an excellent post..good work and so necessary to get this out there more.have a good one!

Anonymous said...

Also the connection between girl abandonment and suicide.

Suggested as well from The Economist.