10 Million Missing Daughters

According to a study reported in the medical journal The Lancet and summarized in an article on NewScientist.com, approximately 10 million female fetuses may have been selectively aborted following ultrasound results in India during the past twenty years:

Their study of 1.1 million households across India reveals that in 1997, far fewer girls were born to couples if their preceding child or children were also female. "There was about a 30% gap in second females following the birth of any earlier females," Jha told New Scientist.

When the firstborn child was a daughter, the sex ratio for second children among the 134,000 births in 1997 was just 759 girls for every 1000 boys. For a third child, just 719 girls were born per 1000 boys, if both the older children were girls. However, if the eldest children were boys, the sex ratios for the second and third child were about 50-50.

Based "on conservative assumptions" the gap in births equates to about 0.5 million missing female births a year, says the team. Assuming the practice has been common in the two decades since ultrasound became widely available, this adds up to 10 million missing girls...

...in India's patriarchal society, daughters are regarded as a "liability", as she will belong to the family of her future husband...A surprising finding was that the disparity was about twice as large in educated mothers, those with at least an Indian grade 10 education, than in illiterate women. "Most things in health are worse among the poor,"...the preference for boys is likely to have "profound long-term consequences". In China, the cultural preference for boys and restrictions on family size are already having effects. Some reports suggest there are 40 million bachelors unable to find brides.

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