As archaic as it is, being a female is reason enough for the high rate of infanticide and abortion in India. India is a country steeped in traditions, customs, and laws that stretch back into ancient times. It is also overpopulated and poverty-stricken. Although abortion is legal in India, Infanticide (homicide of an infant) is not. While the law on both these matters is straightforward, the high rate of infanticide shows a lack of implementation or policing of this law.
The traditional culture of India is based on a patriarchal society, which dictates the necessity for a son to be born. Patriarchal societies follow a culture in which its most powerful members and rulers are men. It is also the custom for sons to provide care and security for parents in their old age because daughters are given up to their husband’s families once they are married.
Indian customs dictate arranged marriages and a dowry be given when a daughter is betrothed. This dowry can also be looked upon as an incentive to a prospective husband. The value of a dowry can be enough to drain a less wealthy family of its assets and can include animals, fine linens, and gold offerings, none of which many Indian people can afford. So from the day she is born it is apparent that a girl child is seen as not cost effective.
The incidence of infanticide, especially to infant girls, not only includes outright murder of a child but can also take the form of less medical and nutritional provisions, causing the child to die of sickness or malnourishment. This form of infanticide is widely practiced and not only by those who cannot afford an abortion.
With the advancement of modern medicine, groundbreaking achievements have been made. Obstetrics, Fertility and Genetics are only some of the fields that have benefitted from these progressions. With all these advancements we are able to lower the rate of infant mortality rates in many countries around the world. But it is a double-edged sword when these advancements can also predict the gender of a child before it is born and then be used to abort it if it is a girl child.
There are such an unusually high proportion of infant female deaths and abortion of female fetuses not only in India but other Asian countries that the conclusion drawn is that tradition is playing the biggest role. These countries place high priority on the birth of a male child.
After extensive research and much scrutiny of his work, Indian Nobel prizewinner and professor, Amartya Sen came to the foregone conclusion that because of infanticide and selective abortion the ratio of male to female children is higher in Asian countries than Europe and North America. His findings noted that for every female there were 1.06 males, indicating there was such an anomaly that the amount of missing females totaled more than 100 million when based upon their total population. Other reasons for the cause of this anomaly such as HIV could not be proven, especially with such a large proportion of missing females. In comparison Europe and North American ratios were more evenly matched.
With figures such as these and in this world where we are forever pushing the boundaries of knowledge, the world needs to stand up against the inhumane treatment of its female children.