As India grows into one of the world’s largest economies, it continues to exterminate one of its most crucial assets: women. BBC cites a report by a UK charity today:
…increasing numbers of female foetuses were being aborted and baby girls deliberately neglected and left to die.
Under “normal” circumstances, there should be about 950 girls for every 1,000 boys… but in three of the five [research] sites, that number was below 800.
Sadly, better technology may be a factor. Using ultrasound results, families are aborting female fetuses because females are considered economic burdens. This cultural preference for boys is so pervasive that adult women themselves consider the pre-selection “a rational choice”. Others are simply forced by family pressure.
Female feticide is banned in India. And the prejudice against women is certainly neither new nor unique to the country. But many hoped that better education, greater prosperity, and a stronger middle class would gradually shift this cultural bias. Not the case.
In a CBC article from 2004:
The opposite seems to be happening. The rate of girls to boys is lowest in the wealthiest states and neighbourhoods. In the Punjab, one of the richest states in India, there are only 793 young girls for every 1,000 boys.
The BBC article today has bleaker statistics: in one research site in Punjab, there are just 300 girls to every 1,000 boys among higher caste families.
Which goes to show: more money and more education aren’t always the solutions.
Equality — not wealth — is a basic human right that we need locally and globally. As Jacques Ranciere taught: equality is not a goal to be attained. It is our starting point, the very axiomatic point of departure.