Sex and the Sun

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Millions of girls are missing.

Some are found dead along the road, drowned in rivers and lying in piles of trash. Many of them are never found, but even more have been aborted. Their first mistake in life is to be conceived a girl.

Sex-selective abortions have become a huge problem across Asia, India and other overpopulated societies that traditionally favor sons.

For every 1,000 boys there are 914 girls in India, according to its most recent census. In other words, for every 1,000 boys, about 86 girls are killed. In Punjab, the imbalance is greater, with 793 girls for every 1,000 boys. Girls under five in India have a 40 percent higher mortality rate than boys under five.

A law in India bans doctors from revealing the sex of the fetus. It is also illegal to abort based on sex. Like other countries, some states in India are offering incentives to keep their girls. These incentives range from free meals to free education, with new incentives being added every year. But many mothers still murder their daughters. Many, who cannot afford abortions, poison the newborns or simply allow them to starve to death.

In 2009 there were 119 boys for every 100 girls in China. Trying to control its population, China has enforced the popular one-child law. China has also banned doctors from revealing the sex of the fetus. An astonishing 95 percent of orphans in China are little girls.

Poverty is not the only reason for sex-selective abortions. According to ActionAid India, the rich have the highest number of missing girls and the biggest gender ratio imbalance.

Sons are favored because they are able to work on the farm and are able to take care of their parents as they age. They also bring into the family a wife and dowries, while daughters leave their families and push their families in debt by having expensive weddings and dowries. In the rural parts of India the husband eats first, then the sons and whatever is left over goes to the women. Many women also say they do not want their daughters to have to live the same life they do.

“If a woman has a boy, for a month she will be looked after. If she has a girl, she’ll be back in the fields in three days,” said Sudha Misra, an Indian social worker in an interview with AP reporter Muneez Naqvi. “An exhausted mother who faces neglect, poor nutrition and blame for producing a daughter is likely to pass on that neglect.”

These traditionally male-favored countries are now having problems finding brides. Apparently they forgot that in order to have sons, there needs to be wives. In many of these countries, gangs are capitalizing on the crisis by kidnapping women from other countries to force them into marriage or prostitution.

Many immigrants who come to the U.S. from these countries often bring their prejudices against females with them. In the U.S. we have the technology, but not the laws that protect female fetuses from “gendercide.” According to the Population Research Institute (PRI), in the 2000 U.S. Census, U.S.-born children of Chinese, Korean and Asian Indian parents tended to be male. PRI also reports that Canada’s Asian population has an already documented sex imbalance.

A positive step for countries around the world would be to secure land and property rights for women, which would go a long way toward erasing the idea that daughters are economically invaluable. As it stands now, the deficit of women in these countries has proven problematic, and has in turn fostered even more hostility and abuse towards women.

Countries that are known for doing sex-selective abortions are looked at as women haters. I am half Chinese and people always joke about how my parents decided to let me live. It is an ignorant joke that is really upsetting because people do not realize how horrible sex-selective abortions are.

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