India’s Daughters Are Missing

I feel bad writing about so much terrible news for women so close to Mother’s Day. On the other hand, what better time is there to emphasize just how much still has to be done in the global fight for women’s rights?

Despite all the outrages against women committed by the religious right in America, at least here there’s a baseline belief in women’s equality (even if our society often falls far short of its aspirations). More fundamental problems still linger in the developing world, such as in India, where the pernicious custom of dowry persists despite repeated attempts to stamp it out. In many cases, the family of the groom expects payments large enough to beggar the bride’s family. In the worst cases, dowry has become not just a one-time payment but a limitless stream of demands from the groom’s family, with the bride essentially held hostage: if her parents refuse to pay, she may be beaten or murdered by her own in-laws. And India’s growing economic prosperity has worsened this trend rather than mitigated it, leading to ever more exorbitant demands made of middle-class families – cars, electronics, gold jewelry, flat-screen TVs.

Given the huge cost of having a daughter in this sexist environment, it’s no surprise that millions of Indian families strongly prefer to have sons. But they’ve expressed that preference in an awful way: expectant parents will go for a test to find out the sex of the fetus and get an abortion if it’s female. (Some women are forced or bullied into this by their husbands, but others go along willingly.) In other instances, especially among the poorest families, girls are mistreated or neglected in the not-so-subtle hope that they’ll die of disease or hunger, whereas the same parents would spare no expense to preserve the life of a boy. The epidemic of sex-selective abortion has led to severely skewed gender ratios – in some areas, as low as 825 girls to every 1,000 boys. Michelle Goldberg writes in The Means of Reproduction that the Sikhs, an allegedly peaceful religious sect, have some of the highest rates of sex-selective abortion in the world.

I’m strongly pro-choice, and I believe that, if performed before the fetus’ brain develops to the point where consciousness is possible, abortion doesn’t harm any person. (This, of course, doesn’t apply to women who deliberately starve their daughters or neglect to provide them with needed medical care.) So who exactly is harmed by women who abort female fetuses? Is there any injury done to anyone that would justify banning this?

I think the epidemic of sex-selective abortion is like pollution – an act which is perceived to benefit the actor, but imposes a greater cost which all of society has to bear collectively. And in this instance, the cost is that a severe imbalance of men over women is bad for societal stability. It’s bad for human happiness, making it harder for people to fall in love and start families. It’s especially bad for women, as it will doubtless lead to more jealousy (and therefore more violence against women), more sex trafficking, and more rape. Some policy analysts even fear it will lead to more wars, as demagogic politicians appeal to the frustration of angry, unmarriageable young men.

This is Prisoner’s Dilemma logic: in a sexist society which imposes heavy costs for having girls, it makes more sense for any individual woman to want a son than a daughter, but when everyone follows that logic, all of society suffers. India’s somewhat draconian solution has been to ban tests that allow parents to find out the sex of a fetus, but that restriction is easily evaded with the help of unscrupulous doctors, and still doesn’t address the problem of parents starving and mistreating daughters once they’re born.

This almost seems like a problem that should take care of itself. One would think that the sheer force of supply and demand would kick in at some point, giving women and their families the leverage to refuse to pay dowry, but that hasn’t happened yet. The prejudices against women must be incredibly strong, for these demands not to budge even in the face of scarcity. Nevertheless, from a purely economic perspective, there has to be an equilibrium point at which the rarity of women, which increases their bargaining power, balances and then overcomes the misogyny which decreases their bargaining power. But the gender imbalance will have to be even more severe for that to happen, and vast harm may be done in the meantime. There’s strong reason to take action earlier, but is there anything that can be done, short of banning fetal sex-determination testing, which is a serious infringement on human liberty in its own right?

Some parts of India have tried paying for girls’ education or meals, but it hasn’t helped enough. I might suggest something a little more direct: outright cash payments for having girls, dispensed over several years contingent on the child being alive and healthy. This would be similar to proven-effective anti-poverty programs like Mexico’s Oportunidades, which pay cash to the very poor to incentivize good behavior. The payments may not even need to be that large for this to work – thanks to the human bias toward hyperbolic discounting, a small payment in the present might easily be judged to outweigh a larger (but less certain) cost in the future.

This is only my suggestion, and it might not work in practice. But regardless, this is a problem that everyone, including people in the West, should be thinking about and discussing. With their growing economic power, India (and China, which also has this problem) are going to play a major role in shaping the future of humanity over the next several decades. If archaic and destructive sexist attitudes about the value of women come along for the ride, we’ll all be much worse off for it. A huge part of calling ourselves a rational civilization is recognizing the equal worth and value of all human beings, and defeating the vicious prejudices – whether they manifest as religion, culture, or whatever else – that hold back any part of humanity and prevent them from making their full contribution to the welfare and happiness of the species.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Sarah Braasch

    I know that some of the Indian states are paying young couples to postpone childbirth, and that it has been an effective program.

  • Shawn

    I remember seeing this article in the New York Times a few years back about South Korea:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/world/asia/23skorea.html?pagewanted=1

    A combination of governmental pressure, social factors and supply/demand issues has put the demographic trend back in the right direction. One would think that this would have to be a self-correcting problem as women become more valuable, but I guess old habits die hard.

  • Jormungund

    This must be me being a naive Westerner, but you’d think that the families with marriageable daughters would be able to play hardball here.

    “You won’t let your son marry her unless we give you a car and some cash? Well then, looks like your son will never get married since men outnumber women 1 to .8. Have fun never having grandchildren since you son will never find a wife.”
    It boggles the mind that this isn’t what is happening.

  • Nathaniel

    Remember we are talking about people here, not numbers. It is no guarantee that any potential guy would be willing to marry every potential woman. Thus things aren’t nearly as fluid and flexible as something like money or pork futures are.

  • http://gothicatheist.blogspot.com/ Cyc

    @ Jormugund

    That would actually not change it at the moment for one particular reason. In these societies, if you do not do what is ‘expected’ of you, the social retaliation will be strong. Their choice is to pay up or become a social pariah for not behaving as others think they should. It is a very dangerous form of thinking and takes much time and effort to escape.

  • Rajesh Kher

    Largely what is said is correct. However it still remains bit one sided.

    1. Lot of states in India have started to pay a amount for the marriage of the daughter provided she is at least 21 years old. This allows maturity and less children in the future.
    2. To eradicate you have to realize that most eligible boys want well educated girls. So the main thrust must come from these girls. However quite a large no. of them want to have dowry (as presents) to start off their lives with ease. Very few of them want to struggle to get what they want. Still the least they can do is to ensure that at least it remains within the means of the parents. Even that is sometimes sadly not taken care off. There are other social pressures on parents to have marriage worthy of their status.
    3. However in recent times the sex ratio has improved. May be 2011 Census will get a correct picture.

    My point is that I abhor and condemn these practices but these are social evils and need social responses. Unfortunately these responses are slow but as proper education permeates and women are becoming empowered this is reducing albeit slowly and for some of us this change continues to be bit slow.
    In India education remains separate from LIFE. Education is Job and status but life is continuance of tradition. Some of us are attempting to do make a change so that LIFE is lived with in logic, reason and scientific method. We ask them to let LIFE be lived , modified and im[proved.

  • http://theotherweirdo.wordpress.com The Other Weirdo

    Let’s send them more of our IT and call-centre jobs, maybe it’ll help.

    Wow, I was watching programs on TV about this twenty-odd years ago.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    This is so sad. My family is from India, and I’ve heard stories about the weird negotiations that go on during a marriage arrangement. My family is not as strict about it (and I have not heard of anything as extreme as this going on in my family), but there are still some who have had arranged marriages and some bad ideas about the roles for men and women. My mom sometimes tells me about the kind of extreme actions that go on, especially in certain parts of India.

    One would think as Jormungund noted (comment #3) that there would be a little bargaining, but Cyc (comment #5) makes a good point. When you start with the assumption that women are worth less, then it’s not an even playing field, and the demands of the woman and her family are not considered as important as those of the man and his family. Plus, there’s a high expectation for men and women to get married. It’s considered a duty, rather than a choice that an individual person can make about their own life. (Don’t even get me started on why I think arranged marriage is an absolutely ridiculously abysmal idea—one which becomes even more absurd and dangerous when combined with misogyny and prohibitions on divorce.)

    The main reason why sex-selective abortion bothers me (even though I am pro-choice) is because I would expect, as we see here, that a person who thinks women are less than men is going to not just choose not to have daughters but also going to treat living, breathing women badly.

    There’s also a bit of what Sarah mentioned in the thread for The Republican Party Still Hates Women: brainwashing. There are girls who actually think (because they’ve been taught it) that this is just how life is, and even those who will defend discriminatory rules as being “respectful” of women, the way that conservative Christian women will act as though not being allowed to work outside the home is sign of respect, that the husband has to take care of the wife, etc.

    As for the Sikhs, as we’ve seen with the recent controversy over Jewish newspaper editing out the women in a photo from the White House, even sects that are not as well known for their misogyny as Christianity and Islam are can still do these kinds of horrible things to women.

    -Ani Sharmin

  • http://ggracchus.blogspot.com/ Gaius Sempronius Gracchus

    Is it possible for sex to be determined so early in the pregnancy that it’s absurd to consider the fetus an “unborn child”?

    Suppose it is.

    That is the period during which most pro-choicers would agree there is no moral objection based on the rights of the fetus to abortion at will, for any reason or for none, wholly at the discretion of the pregnant woman.

    Or are we now saying that the state can legitimately forbid abortions even during the period when a woman’s right to choose should be most incontestable if they are wanted for certain reasons the state regards as bad?

    Or that abortions can rightly be forbidden by the state if necessary to achieve a desirable balance of sexes? Races? IQs?

    And here I thought this was about a woman’s right to choose.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    @Shawn (comment #2): Thanks for the link. A lot of what’s described about South Korea in the article sounds similar to me to what I’ve seen and heard some Indian people doing as well. There’s a similar recognition of the economic benefits of having a society in which both men and women have an education and are working outside the home, though it varies based on a lot of factors, such as the beliefs of the specific family, and there’s a long way to go.

    There are also, I’ve noticed, stricter standards of behavior for girls compared to boys—then after holding their daughters to stricter standards, parents use the “boys will be boys” excuse for their sons’ actions.

  • Doug Kirk

    GSG:

    I normally like your comments, but seriously who are you talking about? I haven’t seen a single person here advocate banning sex based abortions. In fact, Ebon states unecquivocably that doing that just causes more problems without actually proffering any solutions. The whole post is about how the problem is born of a sexist society and a global concern that we have to tackle without restricting the rights of people. Generally by eliminating the social penalties for being female.

    Or are you trying to hijack the thread into an abortion “debate”? I can’t see another reason for you to have such a bait-filled, accusatory comment that has literally nothing to do with what anyone has said?

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    This almost seems like a problem that should take care of itself. One would think that the sheer force of supply and demand would kick in at some point, giving women and their families the leverage to refuse to pay dowry, but that hasn’t happened yet. The prejudices against women must be incredibly strong, for these demands not to budge even in the face of scarcity. Nevertheless, from a purely economic perspective, there has to be an equilibrium point at which the rarity of women, which increases their bargaining power, balances and then overcomes the misogyny which decreases their bargaining power.

    Treating people as though they were commodities, and expecting them to follow the same rules, doesn’t work. With powerful enough social forces at work, the gender ratio could reach 3:1 or even 4:1 and still show no sign of receding. Underestimating the effect that social and political control structures have on individual behavior is devastating to any plan for reform.

    Paying most or all the cost of education, food, and housing is one way to form cracks in the cycle. I think if such subsidies are large enough there’s no real need for direct cash payments. It’s going to take a whole generation to see the full effect any such economic policy as that would have, though.

    I think Rajesh Kher hit a bulls-eye with the “social evils need a social response” statement. If we don’t do something to address the root expectation that women need to marry — and even worse bring special gifts and favors into the marriage — then widespread solutions will be elusive at best.

  • Sarah Braasch

    kagerato,

    I’m really thinking about what you and sharmin are saying.

    I always get a lot of pushback whenever I talk about religious women having been brainwashed into hating themselves.

    Well, what about professional women? What about educated women? What about women in the US? What about women living in largely secular, liberal democracies with the force of the state police and state and federal laws on their side?

    And, I answer, yes, even them.

    Of course, there are varying degrees of debasement.

    And, it reminded me of something I experienced many years ago, in California.

    I was working with a young Indian man (hindu) who had been raised in Africa, but had pursued a degree in the US and was then pursuing an engineering career in the US, in CA. His family came to visit him from India for an extended period of time.

    They had come to arrange his marriage. He had selected his bride from her picture in a brochure, which is commonly distributed among the Indian immigrant and expat community in the US for just such purposes, as if they were purchasing horses or cattle.

    He had never met her.

    She was an engineer working in the Silicon Valley, who had obtained a degree in the US.

    So, it takes more than education. It takes more than upping the immigration of women as asylees from the states, which abuse them and fail to protect them. It takes more than giving them the opportunity to earn high level degrees and secure lucrative employment.

    It is so exasperating.

    What does it take?

    I think we just have to destroy religion.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    @Sarah Braasch (comment #13): I definitely agree that economics and education, although important factors, are not the only factors. (I do think that having an education can make it economically easier to leave a bad marriage, but there’s still the issue of people believing that it would be sinful to do so.)

    I know people who are very educated who’ve also gone along with tradition and had an arranged marriage or who have discriminatory views against women. In my own extended family, I’ve seen a whole range of different views: all the way from people who have broken with tradition and married someone after dating for many years to people who did what you described, picking a spoused based on a photograph. One family friend of mine was even “surprised” with an engagement. (She thought only her brother was getting engaged, but her family had arranged her engagement as well and told her just before the engagement party.) Most of my family members met the person a few times and then agreed whether to marry or not.

    One issue I think about sometimes is that there are different reasons why people support sending girls and women to school. There are those who do it, not for egalitarian/equal rights reasons, but for economic reasons, so they don’t see that the equal rights and responsibilities should extend into the home as well. I have friends in college (I’m 23) who are from Muslim and Hindu families, and they have a similar family situation—their parents support education for girls, but hold discriminatory ideas in other areas of life. We have to get the message across that equal rights are important in all aspects of life, and yes, I do think that necessarily entails addressing the huge problem of religion.

  • Sarah Braasch

    I really appreciate your insight, sharmin.

  • Alex Weaver

    That is the period during which most pro-choicers would agree there is no moral objection based on the rights of the fetus to abortion at will, for any reason or for none, wholly at the discretion of the pregnant woman.

    Or are we now saying that the state can legitimately forbid abortions even during the period when a woman’s right to choose should be most incontestable if they are wanted for certain reasons the state regards as bad?

    Who here has argued for prohibiting abortion on these grounds? It looks to me like Ebon’s arguing for undermining the *motives* for those abortions.

    By the way, there is no coherent moral objection, based on “the rights of the fetus,” to the removal of the fetus from the uterus at the discretion of the uterus’ owner, unless one also accepts that organ donation can be made involuntary. The notion that an entity which is demonstrably not equivalent to a born person has rights no born person possesses (IE, the right to use someone else’s body to keep one alive without their consent) is absurd.

  • Sarah Braasch

    Alex,

    Exactly.

    I do think we need to be careful with the argument that we should somehow criminalize or penalize the motive for having an abortion, even if it is a motive that most of us would find despicable.

    That’s called thought crime.

    And, you don’t have to go to India to find it.

    The Christianist Republican Governor of AZ is attempting to criminalize certain motives for having abortions.

    That kind of argument also stinks of the “we have to protect women from reproductive healthcare, because men will use it against them to treat them like whores” kind of argument, which has grown tired and stale. That’s what they said about the pill and condoms and emergency contraception and abortion and medical abortion.

    And, anyway, with our overpopulation and the condition of our planet, every abortion is a good abortion, no matter the motive.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    @Cyc:

    That would actually not change it at the moment for one particular reason. In these societies, if you do not do what is ‘expected’ of you, the social retaliation will be strong.

    That’s very true. I think part of the reason why dowry hasn’t vanished yet is that many families still think of having a daughter as a shame, so they view paying it as their obligation to discharge that shame. That cultural bias blinds them to the fact that the scarcity of marriageable women gives them power they could use if they chose to. But once women and their families do wake up to the power they hold, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw very rapid cultural change. That’s a meme that can spread very quickly once it becomes established, similar to the way the protests in the Middle East just had to be seeded by a few brave people to be taken up by millions.

    I realize that most individuals don’t think of marriage in such explicitly economic terms. But in the aggregate, it has to happen this way, whether people realize it or not. It’s just another manifestation of the invisible hand of the market, distilling the choices of millions of people into seemingly purposeful patterns of activity.

  • Yahzi

    Wow, noboby mentioned the traditional solution to the problem of too many men and not enough women: war.

    India can solve the problem easily. Just invade Pakistan and steal some women. Between kidnapping and combat deaths, eventually the gender imbalance will be brought back to parity. There’s your economic forces at work.

    Actually, isn’t China having a similar problem? Maybe they could work out a deal with India – agree to fight with swords to limit the collateral damage. And then FOX could broadcast it all – death match reality shows, with the top prize being marriage.

    Sara: I think we just have to destroy religion.
    Yep.

  • Valhar2000

    Yahzi wrote:

    Maybe they could work out a deal with India – agree to fight with swords to limit the collateral damage. And then FOX could broadcast it all – death match reality shows, with the top prize being marriage.

    Your cynicism is absolutely exquisite.

  • http://robotsconquerus.blogspot.com/ Jim

    I thought this was great post, but I did take exception to one line

    There’s strong reason to take action earlier, but is there anything that can be done, short of banning fetal sex-determination testing, which is a serious infringement on human liberty in its own right?

    Is it really a “serious infringement on human liberty” to ban fetal sex-determination? It is is some infringement, but I do not know that it is serious compared to the problem it could help solve. I don’t know if it would be effective, but I don’t think it would force women to seek out back-alley sex testers. I’m sure some sort of black market would pop up, but I don’t think it would lead to anywhere near the risks of black market abortions.

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    Wow, noboby mentioned the traditional solution to the problem of too many men and not enough women: war.

    Ebon did mention it as a throwaway line in the middle of the post.

    To me, the obvious retort is: what problem doesn’t war solve?

    Well, peace, I suppose. Yet the point remains that war is self-justifying, regardless of what cause one is espousing.

    I realize that most individuals don’t think of marriage in such explicitly economic terms. But in the aggregate, it has to happen this way, whether people realize it or not. It’s just another manifestation of the invisible hand of the market, distilling the choices of millions of people into seemingly purposeful patterns of activity.

    Careful there, Ebon. Now you’re starting to sound like a libertarian. :p

  • Hu Zeng

    Skewed sex ratio in China is no less severe than that in India. It has been projected that 10 years later there will be millions extra Chinese men who can’t possibly marry. The century old preference toward boys can not be undone soon. But it’s interesting to know that in India bride’s family have to pay to get married. In China, it’s opposite because normally the groom’s family have to pay for the marriage. Maybe, this somehow improve women’s standing in China a little bit. Nevertheless, if you go to any Chinese orphanage, you will find majority of abandoned kids are girls. Anyway, discrimination against women remains a serious issue in China, though it may not be as bad as India.

  • Rollingforest

    It is true that a society might expect a woman to get married and for the family to pay a dowry, but that would still leave the woman’s family free to choose the man who requires the lowest dowry. If women are allowed to work outside the home then they will have more economic leverage.

    However, if you have a sexist society where women are being aborted far more often than men, unfortunately there are situations where it might not fix itself. As long as enough women are born to keep the number of women in a society constant, the number of men can grow as large as the resources will allow. One way to even out the population is through war, in which most of the victims are male, something India might be happy to do against Pakistan.

    @Doug, @Alex, @Sarah, @Ebon: I do find it kind of disturbing that so many people on this thread feel that sex-selective abortions are acceptable enough that nothing should be done about them. I would hope that everyone would agree that aborting because you don’t want a child of that gender or race is a disgusting mentality and that we should do what we can to stop it. As Jim points out, banning tests that discover the gender of a fetus still allows you to have an abortion, just without the knowledge of the gender of the fetus. You can have reproductive freedom, but that doesn’t mean you can work to eradicate an entire group of people. Although imperfect, banning procedures that would tell you the gender of the fetus would at least help to decrease these abuses. We can protect reproductive freedom, but it must be blind to gender so you won’t be limiting future populations based on sexist premises. Since birth is the only way anyone can come into this world, we need to make sure that no group is blocked by past generations. That is an abuse of a group’s right to exist.

    @Sarah: It’s not a thought crime. It is a crime of action. If we ban people from finding out the gender of the fetus, then we can make sure they aren’t attempting to eradicate a particular gender.

    @Hu Zeng: I hear that the Chinese have begun shipping in brides from Vietnam, not always with the girl’s specific consent.

  • Wednesday

    @ Ebon et al–

    India banned prenatal sex discernment back in 1994. However, since ultrasounds are often done for other diagnostic reasons, medical care providers can get around the ban by giving the parents colored lollipops or some other indicator of fetal sex.

  • Sarah Braasch

    There are lots of things that society can do to encourage or discourage their citizenry from doing something without criminalizing that activity.

    But, we should not criminalize abortion based upon motive. (Obviously, I don’t think we should criminalize abortion at all.)

    Criminalizing abortion is criminalizing an action.

    But when you criminalize the MOTIVE for doing something, that IS thought crime. It is the textbook definition of thought crime.

    Is gender imbalance such a bad thing?

    Those excess males won’t be able to breed.

    I see that as a good thing.

    And, it will increase the “value” of females.

  • Sarah Braasch

    One good thing that Mubarak’s regime did pre revolution was a nation-wide campaign thru out Egypt urging the citizenry to only have babies, which they could afford.

    And, to explain how Egypt was soon going to be unable to care for its wildly exploding population.

    Of course, then the people overthrew him.

    Ha ha.

    But, anyway.

    I know India is working on this problem, but maybe a nationwide campaign explaining that their many sons will be unable to have families of their own if everyone keeps aborting the girls?

    You know that that is the last thing they want.

    India is vast and has huge rural swathes.

    People just have a hard time appreciating how their personal choices in the aggregate can bring down a whole nation-state.

    In the end:

    I think we just have to destroy religion.

  • Rollingforest

    @Sarah: No, a thought crime is when you get punished for thinking something (for example, if you wrote something in your private journal that the government didn’t like and then they read it and arrested you, that would be a thought crime)

    On the other thread, one person pointed out that motive DOES matter. The punishment for first degree murder and manslaughter are very different based on motive even though in both cases a person ends up dead. If you own a business, you can tell any random person to get out of your store. But if you tell all the black people to get out of your store all the time, that’s illegal. If you throw two pieces of burning wood on to a black family’s property while you are carrying a bed sheet, you’ll get charged with littering. If you make a burning cross out of those two pieces of wood and make that bed sheet into a KKK outfit and put the burning cross in the black family’s yard, that is racial harassment. Motives do matter in these cases. Similarly, if you are aborting based on your ability to support another kid, that is okay, but if you are aborting all of a certain gender, race, or sexual orientation, that isn’t okay. That is an attempt to get rid of a group of people based on hate or discrimination.

  • Sarah Braasch

    Motive and mens rea are not the same thing, but I’m too tired to repeat my legal explanation for the umpteenth time.

    Also, I abhor hate crime legislation.

    It, too, is thought crime.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    I know India is working on this problem, but maybe a nationwide campaign explaining that their many sons will be unable to have families of their own if everyone keeps aborting the girls?

    Sarah, my tongue-in-cheek solution to the problem is to plaster India with billboards featuring Freida Pinto and Aishwarya Rai with the caption “How Could Having More of Them Possibly Be A Bad Thing?”

    http://bollywood-cineactress.blogspot.com/2010/07/freida-pinto.html

    http://stars.ign.com/dor/objects/910674/aishwarya-rai/images/aishwarya-rai-20090708042906727.html?page=mediaFull

  • Niklaus Pfirsig

    I recall that, several years ago, one of the network tv news “magazine” programs did a story about abuses in China stemming from their dowry system.

    The problem was excerbated when the Chinese government restricted the number of children a couple could have, in an attempt to address their population growth. The Chinese intepreter for the news crew called the dowry system “feudal”.
    At the time in rural China, the dowry went to the family of the groom, and was paid by the family of the bride. This meant that a son would eventually increase the wealth and prominence of the family while a daughter would reduce the wealth and prominence. A lack of any way to determine the infant’s gender before birth, combined with the restriction on childbirth resulted in an epidemic of infanticide of baby girls, by their mothers, shortly after birth. The infants were either drowned, or smothered, and the murder was covered up by claiming the child was stillborn, or died shortly after birth from unknown causes such as SIDS.
    I fear that preventing abortions in India may have this effect.

  • Sarah Braasch

    FYI:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/25/world/asia/25india.html?_r=1&src=rechp

    Like I said, I think we just have to destroy religion.


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