Tuesday, November 20, 2007

World without women

The Hindu, November 18, 2007

The Other Half


In the late 1980s, when we had the first indications
that technology was being used to ensure that girls
were not born, a few people made rather prescient
predictions about the future. They predicted that
women would face much greater violence. They suggested
that women would be trafficked.
These campaigners against sex-selective abortions were
condemned as scare-mongerers. They were told they were
exaggerating to make a point. Fewer women would mean a
greater demand for them. That instead of dowry, women
could demand a higher price for marriage.

Realities now
We know now that the opposite has happened. Many of
the dire predictions made in the 1980s are coming
true. In the States where sex selection is most
rampant, there are entire villages where the men
cannot find women to marry. So they are “buying” women
from other States. And in some instances, where the
family can afford to buy just one woman, she is
expected to “service” all the men in the family.

An increasing number of studies and reports are now
revealing that this is happening not just in Punjab
and Haryana, the States with the worst sex ratios but
also in some districts of Uttar Pradesh. It is
possible that such incidents could be occurring in
other States as well but have not yet been reported.

The 2001 census was a wake-up call. It exposed the
damning Indian reality of falling sex ratios in the
0-6 years age group. The national average stood at 927
girls to 1,000 boys. Since then some efforts have been
put in place to implement the law to check
sex-selective abortions and to encourage parents with
girls. But clearly, so far, the impact of such
policies has not made a difference. The Third National
Family Health Survey has revealed that five years
later, the sex ratio in the age group has fallen to

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