Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sex-Selective Abortion Leads to Polyandry in India


Sohan Singh is a 24-year-old Indian man who can't find a wife. He's tried everything, including letting it be known that he won't even demand the traditional dowry. From the story:
But Mr Singh had no luck. Eventually, frustrated, he gave up, only to collude with his elder brother, Mohan Singh, 30, to do the unthinkable: he convinced him to share his wife.

“I had no choice but to submit to my husband and brother-in-law,” said Manu Kanwar, 26, hiding her face behind a ghunghat, or Indian veil. “I have two husbands.”

The article goes on to explain that this case is not, in that wonderful English phrasing, "a one-off". Why?:
a result of years of unbridled sex-selective abortions and female infanticide, which have reached alarming proportions.

The gender ratio in India is the most skewed in the world. The 2001 census registered a ratio that had plummeted from 976 girls per 1,000 boys in 1991 to 927 girls per 1,000 boys, indicating that about 900,000 female foetuses were aborted, or girl infants killed, every year.

The country’s Sample Registration System data for 2002-2004 revealed a further drop to 882 girls per 1,000 boys.

And for this poor woman, sex-selective abortion led to polyandry and then forced abortion:
Ms Kanwar, who is trapped in a polyandrous relationship because of the relentless killing of female foetuses, said she “was compelled” to abort her first baby six years ago, when Mohan Singh, her first husband, discovered it was a girl.

She gave birth to three girls and a son after that, uncertain which brother was the father of each.

“I refused to kill my daughters,” she said. “I put my foot down. I explained to my husbands that we are trapped in this relationship because girls have gone missing in this town.”

We've heard the worry with regard to China's gender imbalance that a lot of unmarried men could lead to militarism. India's trajectory seems just as likely. Neither benefits women.