60 Million Women Missing in India

India has been plagued with rape cases in the last year. Most notably, a woman was gang-raped in New Delhi and died 13 days later from her injuries. However, that is only the tip of the iceberg because over 60 million women are missing in India.

Sunny Hundal, author of the e-book India Dishonored: Behind a Nation’s War on Women, suggests these women were aborted, killed once born, died of neglect because they were girls, or possibly murdered because they did not pay enough dowry at marriage. He explains where the number 60 million came from:

That number isn't a wild exaggeration or a figure thoughtlessly plucked out of the air, but a matter of demographics. As far back as 1991, the economist Amartya Sen pointed out that Asia was missing 100 million women because of sex-selection and the poor attention paid to women. In 2005, it was estimated at 50 million Indian women in the New York Times. But this isn't a new problem.

In 1991, the Indian census showed an unprecedented drop of women in the sex-ratio. After running tests to check whether women had been under-counted, they found that a massive explosion in sex-selection during the 80s had led to a sharp drop in the number of girls being born. A report by Action Aid in 2009 ("Disappearing Daughters" [PDF]) found that in some villages in the state of Punjab, there were as few as 300 girls for every 1,000 boys.

Overall, India had 37.25 million fewer women than men according to the 2011 Census. To match the sexes equally and then increase the number of women to match the natural sex-ratio would require around 60 to 70 million women. That is the number of women missing. This phenomenon cannot be called anything less than genocide.

Why is this not a bigger issue in India? Hundal claims it is because of the Indian culture and uses the government’s reaction to the gang rape as evidence. There were many protests by civilians after the gang rape, but politicians did not respond to the outrage. The prime minister only addressed a week later and Mohan Bhagwat, chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, blamed it on the “western lifestyle.”

Rising incomes and a few more freedoms for Indian women have led to more backlash through these rapes and assaults. Instead of looking at the culture, the politicians choose to blame the “western lifestyle” for these incidents. However, the culture still demeans Indian women. People still pay a dowry for brides, shun divorced women, only men can inherit property, and girls are not put through school. Hundal also mentioned the higher incomes mean families must pay more for dowries and they can afford to have abortions.

Hundal said by 2020 there will be 28 million extra men if this problem continues.


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