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Missing – 163 million girls worldwide

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Summary of story from Mother Jones, July 05, 2011

A new book entitled “Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men” by Mara Hvistendahl considers the implications of the gender imbalance in countries like China, India, Georgia, Vietnam and South Korea.

Hvistendahl asserts that as many as 163 million girls and women are missing from the populations of Asia as a direct result of sex-selective abortions and infanticide.

The book cites research by Christophe Guilmoto, who did his PhD dissertation on population and demographics in India. Very quickly, Dr Guilmoto noticed that not only were populations falling, populations of girls were falling very significantly.

Even more surprisingly, the areas where there were fewer girls were the more affluent areas of India’s Northwest. While natural demographics will show 105 boys born for every hundred girls, the breadbasket of India had a sex ratio of 126:100 boys:girls.

Dr Guilmoto swiftly realised that the reason for the gender gap was the ultrasound scan – with many couples choosing to terminate the pregnancy if the child was female.

He found that other Asian countries also exceeded the biological upper limit of 106 boys born per 100 girls.

Although we may tend to view gender imbalance as a local problem, the book points out that it has far-reaching global consequences.

Skewed sex ratios in the developing world have led to a host of secondary human rights abuses, and those are issues the rest of the world must address.

We already have large numbers of what demographers refer to as ‘surplus’ men.  These are the men left over in an imagined world where everyone who can marry, does.

As the first generation touched by sex-ratio imbalance grows up, more women are falling prey to practices such as  sex trafficking, bride buying, and forced marriages.

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