Bride Shortage in India

The NGO Committee on UNICEF Working Group on Girls organized an event at the United Nations yesterday on child marriage. I have posted about child marriage before. See Tiny Voices Defy Fate of Yemen’s Girls and Saudi judge refuses to annul marriage of girl, 8 – CNN.com.

Yesterday, though, I learned of a disturbing trend involving child marriage and sex trafficking that has resulted from sex-selective abortion and infanticide. UNICEF  estimates that more than 60 million women are demographically ‘missing’ from the world as a result of sex- selective abortions and female infanticide in China, South Asia and North Africa.

Infanticide has been practiced throughout human history in societies where boy children are valued, economically and socially, above girls. Advances in technology permit the modern horror of selectively aborting female fetuses. Medical testing for sex selection, although officially outlawed, has become a booming business in China, India and the Republic of Korea.

Sex ratio by country for total population. Blue represents more women, red more men than the world average of 1.01 males/female.
Sex ratio by country for total population. Blue represents more women, red more men than the world average of 1.01 males/female.

In India, census data from 2001 show that among children younger than 6, there are just 927 girls per 1,000 boys. UNICEF calculates that “7,000 fewer girls are now born in India each day than nature would dictate, and 10 million have been killed during pregnancy or just after in the past 20 years.” For more numbers see: Female Foeticide – Still Rampant!!!

This practice of sex-selective abortion and female infanticide is coming home to roost in a way that people should have anticipated. There is a now a bride shortage in many parts of India. In many villages it is nearly impossible for families to find brides for their sons.

As a result, many families are turning to trafficking to solve the problem. Young girls from countries like Bangladesh and from poorer areas of India are being bought and sold as child brides. Even more horrifying is that some of these girls are made to bear children for one man and then sold to another to bear more.

Sadly, having fewer women and girls has not meant that their importance or value has increased in India. On the contrary, brides are frequently subjected to increased domestic violence and abuse, forcibly cloistered inside their homes to cook, keep house and, above all else, produce more boys.

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