23 to 45 million women have gone ‘missing’, since the 1970s, because of sex-selective abortions and preference of a male child over a female child in China, India, and ten other nations. A new study published in BMJ Global Health predicts that China, India, and ten other nations will ‘lose’ another 4.7 million female births, ruining their sex ratios even more by 2030.
This study is based on a model in which 3.26 billion births of women were recorded from 204 countries and it found that 12 nations with strong evidence of a ruined sex ratio and 17 nations were at risk of heading in that direction.
The good news is that the 12 nations today with a ruined sex ratio show signs of recovery, especially China and India, where mostly 95 percent of all current missing births are located.
As this model predicts these nations might lose 5.7 million women altogether since the 1970s and when sex diagnosis became widely available, it was a much faster decrease than other studies have predicted making a lot of women who will never be born, and it could result in lasting culture and society.
In countries like China and India, where men are now more than women by some 70 million, a marriage ‘squeeze’ has already led to a worrying increase in loneliness which eventually leads to rising violence, female trafficking, and prostitution.
In recent years the graph of sex imbalance in both of these nations has begun to decrease, as the government is working on it and some steps have been taken such as providing incentives for female births and restrictions on sex-selective abortions but this is not enough. The people working on the new model say that there is a need to take immediate action if there’s an urge to balance the sex scales in countries like China, India, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Vietnam.
Some other countries which prefer sons over daughters, like Nigeria, Pakistan, Egypt, Tanzania, and Afghanistan are beginning to ruin their sex ratios and making the world lose 22 million more women by 2100. Additionally, nations in sub-Saharan Africa could contribute more than a third of all lost births.
Sex diagnosis and abortion are more readily available around the world and as gender discrimination persists, is making this situation problematic. One side of abortion gives women more power over their bodies, their health, their future, and their choices which can be mainly influenced by societal attitudes and norms.
Based on gender discrimination, only men can work, carry on the family line, or look after their aging parents, and women can sometimes not work or own property, and in certain cases, they need a dowry to marry in some cultures. These weird cultural expectations make women burden especially on poorer families.
For sex-based abortion, researchers have also blamed female infanticide and poor female healthcare for the millions of missing women worldwide considering women as a burden and liability.
The author writes,
“These findings underline the need to monitor [the sex ratio at birth] in countries with son preference and to address the factors behind the persistence of gender bias in families and institutions. A broader objective relates to the need to influence gender norms which lie at the core of harmful practices such as prenatal sex selection.”
The new model isn’t accurate, but it’s the first attempt researchers have made to predict how many girls and boys will be born in the coming years.
These different attitudes are very difficult to change in the future as well, but something immediately has to be done as a nation’s unbalanced sex ratio can dictate the well-being of its population.