In India and China, where the ratio of men to women is skewed in
favour of men, there are higher levels of rape and violent conflict.
There is some optimism emerging from the latest study by the US National
Bureau of Economic Research examining the ratio of men to women around the
world. The World Bank expressed similar optimism in 2009.
Both institutions are buoyed by the partial reversal of South Korea's skewed
child sex ratios, which had peaked in the mid-1990s at 116 boys per 100 girls.
South Korea's restored balance, while retaining a male dominance that
remains above the accepted biological range (and with greater imbalances
persisting among babies born to older mothers), is attributed to the
simultaneous introduction of economic, social and legal initiatives.
Government policies that improved gender equality and promoted
awareness-raising campaigns are also credited with fundamentally altering the
country's underlying patriarchal norms.
Both institutions also claim that child sex ratios skewed towards males
(masculinised ratios) are peaking in China and India. Such a claim is highly
debatable, especially in light of India's most recent census of 2011, which
signalled that 37.25 million girls were ''missing'' from the group aged 0 to 6
Similarly contentious is the World Bank's claim that the ''missing girls''
phenomenon can be addressed in Asia with ''continuing vigorous efforts to
reduce son preference''.
Certainly son preference is a major factor in a world of disappearing girls,
but patrilinear mindsets alone could not have brought about the current crisis
in female numbers.
Rather, only by acting in tandem with imposed population control programs,
increasingly cheap technologies that identify an unborn child's sex, and the
availability of abortion that stretches beyond the rule of law, has son
preference succeeded in distorting the age-old balance between male and female
births, thereby creating a generation faced with an unnatural excess of males.
Throughout human history, a masculinised population has translated into
criminal and violent conflict; and contrary to predictions that females would
become more valued in their scarcity, a masculinised sex ratio has instead
amounted to the increased likelihood of girls and women contending with rape,
abduction, bride-sharing, trafficking, forced marriage, and various other forms
of violence and discrimination.
Both India and China are proving no exception to past experiences, with a
significant correlation between increased crime and the falling female
component of the sex ratio in India, and a doubling of crime rates during the
recent period of male-dominated sex ratios in China.
Defying widely held impressions, the crime of rape is yet to be officially
linked to masculinised sex ratios. Yet, according to 2011 statistics from
India's National Crime Records Bureau, rape has been the country's most rapidly
growing crime since 1971.
Increasing by a staggering 792 per cent in those 40 years, rape dwarfs the
rise in other serious crimes such as murder (106 per cent), armed robbery (27
per cent) and kidnapping (298 per cent).
At the same time, in India's states where the sex ratio is highly skewed in
favour of males, the daily reports of rape and gang rape are consistent with
notions that a surplus of men, devoid of the feminising influence of sisters,
girlfriends and wives, are driven towards committing violent crimes against
In fact, it might well be said that to deny the link between the country's
masculinised sex ratio and national average of 22 women raped each hour is to
live in disgraceful disregard for the lifelong suffering the crime inflicts
upon girls and women.
China and India are not the only nations with masculinised child sex ratios.
Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong in Asia, and the east
European countries of Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Serbia are
plagued by decreasing numbers of female births relative to those of male
This has significantly distorted ratios of females to males among children
aged from zero to six. Most often this is described as gendercide or the
killing of specific members of a sect.
But today's skewed sex ratios amount to outright femicide or the killing,
specifically, of women.
In fact, were the girl child instead the endangered white rhinoceros, the
entire world would be up in arms on her behalf.
V. Rukmini Rao and Lynette Dumble work at the Gramya Resource Centre for
Women in Andhra Pradesh, India. Gramya's vision is to
create a just society, which will provide political, social and economic
opportunities for women, especially tribal and dalit women, to help them
achieve their rights, to improve their lives and livelihoods and to realize
their full potential.