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Grim News From the 2011 India Census


Juana La Loca

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Submitted largely without comment.

914 for every 1000

It's not about wealth or development

those links are from The Economist.

here are more direct viewpoints on the issue.

Census numbers and stats from 2001 and 2011 perhaps provide some answers. Not "culturally sensitive" answers - but with 600,000 girls gone missing every year, perhaps it's time to trash the cultural sensitivity. The west has dropped tons of humanitarian ordnance for lesser "-cides"

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I once asked a prominent Canadian feminist if she supported both multiculturalism and abortion. Of course she said 'yes'. I then asked her how she reconciled those beliefs with the practice of sex-selective abortion, which was skewing the numbers in large parts of the world and was beginning to be seen in Canada owing to immigration from places like India and east Asia.

If I recall correctly, she said my question was 'irrelevant'.

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I once asked a prominent Canadian feminist if she supported both multiculturalism and abortion. Of course she said 'yes'. I then asked her how she reconciled those beliefs with the practice of sex-selective abortion, which was skewing the numbers in large parts of the world and was beginning to be seen in Canada owing to immigration from places like India and east Asia.

If I recall correctly, she said my question was 'irrelevant'.

Which is one reason that the western commercial media is by and large ignoring this situation. It raises far too many questions and challenges far too many assumptions. Abortion has largely been framed as a question of women's rights/equal rights. And when it becomes irrefutable that abortion is being used as a tool of oppression and devaluation of women, it just sort of short-circuits the paradigm.

Also interesting are the states and UTs of India with best sex-ratios. 10 come in at or above the worldwide average of 955 girls to 1000 boys. Some of this data really upsets certain preconceptions.

Mizoram 971

Meghalaya 970

Andaman & Nicobar: 966

Puducherry 965

Chhattisgarh 964

Arunachal Pradesh 960

Kerala 959

Assam 957

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The problem in India isn't the abortions themselves, it's the fact that the women don't have any control over getting them. This raises two long term population problems: 1) their family will force them to abort daughters, who are seen as less useful than sons in large parts of India, which will end up in these massive differences in gender demographics, and 2) the women have no control over how many children they have, contributing to the massive population increase in India as death rates go down. The solution to this is educating and empowering the women to be able to make their own decisions about these things, which unfortunately means changing the culture in Northern India especially.

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The problem in India isn't the abortions themselves, it's the fact that the women don't have any control over getting them.

Regardless of my own faith based stance on the issue of abortion, I am in agreement with you on this one ty. It's not about abortion qua abortion but about changing deeply ingrained cultural norms and prejudices. And while the west latches onto abortion as the reason for the disparity in the census numbers, there are several other elements at play such as:

A 2007 UNICEF report affirmed that girls under-5 years in India had a 40% higher mortality rate than boys the same age.

A 2011 report on a study conducted jointly by the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Harvard School of Public Health observed that girls were 21% more likely than boys to die before their 5th birthday because of violence. And infant girls, who were one year and younger were 50% more likely to die because of violence than boys that age.

In a study by the Registrar General of India published in 2010 in the medical journal β€œThe Lancet,” Girls in India of the age 1month to 5 years were dying of pneumonia and diarrhea at a rate that is 4-5 times higher than boys that age.

The thing is that in this case abortion and violence and neglect are all part of the SAME matrix.... and that is another thing that makes western liberal media uncomfortable with reporting on it. There is greater, though still scantily reported, protests from western media over "honor" and dowry murders since the whole abortion issue does not come into play as part of these particular bits of GBV.

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It's often not a matter of a woman being 'forced' to do anything, but rather that even to women boys have more value (as workers and providers, in the long run) than girls. In a place like India, the cost of having a girl is simply too much for many families to bear. In places like Korea, women see that in the long run it will be their sons taking care of them, and they behave accordingly.

You can argue that all of this represents some kind of compulsion, and I don't think anyone would argue with that.

But it's not the same as force. Nobody is making them lie down and submit to this.

It's a subtle difference, but a difference all the same.

You want to use education and 'empowerment' (a fluffy, feel-good, liberal word that is basically meaningless) to change cultural biases that have existed for millennia? Good luck with that. Let me know how it turns out.

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I'm not following the train of thought in the initial blog entry.

Assuming that selective abortion is "bad" - I guess it probably is but frankly it's irrelevant for my following reasoning - how exactly is a diminished "humanitarian aid" going to impact the families' choices about selective abortion?

Is "humanitarian aid" also really that important for India? A very quick search (on the accuracy of which I certainly don't offer guarantees) shows that Indian GDP is around $1,530 billions and that the incoming aid (net official development assistance) is around 2.4 billions (around 50 millions from the US).

Even if someone was able to convince all donors to entirely stop their aiding (lol) a 0.16% change on an economy that grows at 8%+ per year is hardly going to impress Indian families, even assuming that they ever came to know of it.

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It's often not a matter of a woman being 'forced' to do anything, but rather that even to women boys have more value (as workers and providers, in the long run) than girls. In a place like India, the cost of having a girl is simply too much for many families to bear. In places like Korea, women see that in the long run it will be their sons taking care of them, and they behave accordingly.You can argue that all of this represents some kind of compulsion, and I don't think anyone would argue with that.But it's not the same as force. Nobody is making them lie down and submit to this.It's a subtle difference, but a difference all the same.You want to use education and 'empowerment' (a fluffy, feel-good, liberal word that is basically meaningless) to change cultural biases that have existed for millennia? Good luck with that. Let me know how it turns out.

Well, we could just sit here and laugh at them while their population crashes a few decades from now or they run out of resources from overpopulation, but most people aren't generally fond of that idea.

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I'm not following the train of thought in the initial blog entry.

Assuming that selective abortion is "bad" - I guess it probably is but frankly it's irrelevant for my following reasoning - how exactly is a diminished "humanitarian aid" going to impact the families' choices about selective abortion?

Is "humanitarian aid" also really that important for India? A very quick search (on the accuracy of which I certainly don't offer guarantees) shows that Indian GDP is around $1,530 billions and that the incoming aid (net official development assistance) is around 2.4 billions (around 50 millions from the US).

Even if someone was able to convince all donors to entirely stop their aiding (lol) a 0.16% change on an economy that grows at 8%+ per year is hardly going to impress Indian families, even assuming that they ever came to know of it.

Jerdge,

My point in the initial post saying that it is not about wealth or development, is that those are certain preconceived notions I have run up against on this issue, from those who say it is an issue of poverty and the inability of families to support "superfluous" girl children ~ when this is clearly not the case. The 0-6 sex ratio cannot be tied to poverty rates or female literacy rates or other standard developmental measurements. And this is nothing that can be addressed by throwing any amount of development money at the situation.

Detailed household income stats are not out yet on the 2011 India Census website but it will be an interesting excel exercise to cross-compare income and sex-ratio one info is released.

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It's often not a matter of a woman being 'forced' to do anything, but rather that even to women boys have more value (as workers and providers, in the long run) than girls. In a place like India, the cost of having a girl is simply too much for many families to bear. In places like Korea, women see that in the long run it will be their sons taking care of them, and they behave accordingly.

Ashoka,

Interesting thing with South Korea. They have managed to turn around their "girl deficit" of the 1990s - one of the few really bright spots in this whole issue.

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I'm not following the train of thought in the initial blog entry.Assuming that selective abortion is "bad" - I guess it probably is but frankly it's irrelevant for my following reasoning - how exactly is a diminished "humanitarian aid" going to impact the families' choices about selective abortion?Is "humanitarian aid" also really that important for India? A very quick search (on the accuracy of which I certainly don't offer guarantees) shows that Indian GDP is around $1,530 billions and that the incoming aid (net official development assistance) is around 2.4 billions (around 50 millions from the US).Even if someone was able to convince all donors to entirely stop their aiding (lol) a 0.16% change on an economy that grows at 8%+ per year is hardly going to impress Indian families, even assuming that they ever came to know of it.
Jerdge,My point in the initial post saying that it is not about wealth or development, is that those are certain preconceived notions I have run up against on this issue, from those who say it is an issue of poverty and the inability of families to support "superfluous" girl children ~ when this is clearly not the case. The 0-6 sex ratio cannot be tied to poverty rates or female literacy rates or other standard developmental measurements. And this is nothing that can be addressed by throwing any amount of development money at the situation. Detailed household income stats are not out yet on the 2011 India Census website but it will be an interesting excel exercise to cross-compare income and sex-ratio one info is released.

You're making a pretty broad error here in assuming that, in an overall underdeveloped state, wealth and BAD THINGS immediately correlate. It is about development, and while the diffusion of different cultural norms of gender violence has its own variables, gender violence and the fact that women constitute the poorest people in the poorest countries obviously shows that the Indian case is not unique. It is simply manifesting itself differently to some other underdeveloped states.

Development, both bottom-up and top-down, is essential here. Ashoka says that empowerment is 'fluffy', and he's right in that it has vaguenesses, but the Indian state has enormous issues with regional variations in its capacity to deliver state services, fight corruption and uphold the norms of rule. NGO/donors are frustrated by limited resources, state weakness and local problems. Does that mean empowerment tools like the Grameen Bank cannot work? Of course not, empowering women economically has proven to be an enormously useful tool for development that does have tangible effects on gender violence. But there are a vast number of implementation problems that lie before those trying to do something about it. It will require top-down reform from the Indian state to ensure that empowerment aid can actually be delivered efficiently.

And does India require aid? Of course it does. It may have enormous GDP, but the pure wealth of a state defines nothing. It still has some of the worst poverty outside of sub-Saharan Africa. Aid work is noticed more because it is often localised, and is delivered directly to impoverished people. Whereas the proceeds of state wealth tend to evade the poorest.

I don't think anybody *has* been arguing it can be solved by throwing unlimited development funds at the issue. Cultural norms take time, but development is going to be what actually gets that underway. The false assumptions being made here is that a) people in positions of implementation thought this was actually the case b) gender violence is uniquely manifesting itself in India and c) development work has been sufficient in efficiency or resourcing so far.

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'Submitted without comment'? Lol. Your one line comment is about as incendiary as you could make it.

The fact is that issues like this are a symptom not a cause, and using it as a stick to beat abortion with is silly. If abortion suddenly became impossible, they would be killed when they are actually people, and that would be much worse. Sex selection or determination is already illegal there, anyway (according to the linked article).

The problem is that girls and women are considered to be (i) useless and (ii) expensive – and with dowries, the second part at least is a simple fact. That's what needs to be changed.

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'Submitted without comment'? Lol. Your one line comment is about as incendiary as you could make it.

The fact is that issues like this are a symptom not a cause, and using it as a stick to beat abortion with is silly. If abortion suddenly became impossible, they would be killed when they are actually people, and that would be much worse. Sex selection or determination is already illegal there, anyway (according to the linked article).

The problem is that girls and women are considered to be (i) useless and (ii) expensive – and with dowries, the second part at least is a simple fact. That's what needs to be changed.

Bob,

Hardly a stick with which to "beat abortion" though personally I am pro-life. Worse than that I try to follow the Consistent Life Ethic.

Abortion in the case of India is a symptom of a greater problem and there you are correct. Another symptom is Infanticide- things like stuffing a baby girl's mouth full of salt, or feeding her rice husks, or wrapping her in cold cloths and leaving her exposed so she'll get pneumonia, or starving her, or not getting her the medical care that would be given a boy , or drowning her in a pail of milk, or strangulation, or suffocation, or just leaving the girl child abandoned in a ditch or in a forest to be consumed by other-than-human animals.

And as for changing the idea of women as useless and expensive. 2001 census data shows that the religion plays a notable part in whether the sex-ration is near or at the world norm of 955/100. Literacy not so much, So in order of ranking.with 2001 in (parenthese). Total population sex-ratio in [brackets} which accounts for GBV on older girls and women viz "kitchen accidents", importance placed on women's health & nutrition, suicides, dowry murders, and other GBV

Other 976/1000 {Jewish, Parsi, Baha'l, Animist} 50% female literacy , overall sex ratio 1000/1000

Christian 964/1000 90.3% female literacy, overall sex ratio 1009/1000

Muslim: 950/1000 60% female literacy , overall sex ratio 940/1000

Buddhist: 942/1000 73% female literacy, overall sex ratio 955/1000

Hindu 925/1000 75.5% female literacy, overall sex ratio 935/1000

Jain: 870/1000 95% female literacy, overall sex ratio 940/1000

Sikh: 786/1000 70.4% female literacy, overall sex ratio 985/1000

Have some more numbers

And that, my friend, is full out partisan editorializing.

.

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If abortion suddenly became impossible, they would be killed when they are actually people, and that would be much worse.

:rolleyes: ooooook.

Golly, I missed that wee bon mot from Mr Janova. Perhaps he had not read enough of above posts and linkage provided to understand that infanticide is as much as contributor to the imbalance as is abortion. The 0-5 year old girl population with a 40% higher mortality rate than the 0-5 boy population.... i think most people of sense would call that infanticide.

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Ashoka the Great[/b]]You want to use education and 'empowerment' (a fluffy' date=' feel-good, liberal word that is basically meaningless) to change cultural biases that have existed for millennia? Good luck with that. Let me know how it turns out.[/quote']

I'm speaking from from anecdotal experience here, but growing up as a Chinese kid under China's one child policy I definitely observe a drastic difference in attitudes amongst educated parents who are of the socio-economic level to throughly educate their kids. Sometimes you hear conversations amongst parents that veer to debates on whether or not boys or girls are better to have. You end up hear many "pro-girl" things along the lines of "Girls are better because they keep a better/closer relationship with their parents as they get older" or "Girls are better because they are more studious in schools". My paternal great-grand parents strongly held to "Boys are definitely better" and they were uneducated and the one child law wasn't in effect. My grand parents who were also fairly uneducated held onto similar views (1 child was still not in effect). My dad was educated and wanted a girl (1 child was in effect).

So no, I would disagree that cutting off the avaliability to legal abortion is the best route to solve skewed sex ratio.

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The links in the OP attribute the problem almost entirely to abortion. You can hardly blame me for not following links posted after my post.

Pertinent links are in the 5th response to OP. May 11 @ 1702 hrs.

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