Imagine that 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 abortion seems different. What do you do?
For millions of couples, the answer is: abort the daughter, trey for a son. In china and northern India more than 120 boys are being born for every 100 girls. Nature dictates, that slightly more males are born than females to offset boy’s greater susceptibility to infant disease. But nothing on this scale.
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 circumstance, 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 Asia societies, where marriage and children are 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. Other need to learn from it if they are to stop the carnage. (…)
All the countries need to raise the value of girls. They should encourage female education; abolish laws and customs that prevent daughters inheriting property; make examples of hospitals and clinics with impossible sex ratios; get women engaged in public life-using everything from television newsreaders to women traffic police. Mao Zedong said «women hold up half the sky». The world needs to do more to prevent gendercide that will have the sky crashing down.
Artículo completo en The Economist.
Sí, el sexismo sigue muy vivo en este mundo.