Tuesday, January 10, 2006

India's missing girls

About half a million fewer girls were born in India in 1997 than expected. Extrapolated over 20 years, the figure would be 10 million. "Because of ultrasound sex screening and a traditional preference for boys."

"Female infanticide of the past is refined and honed to a fine skill in this modern guise."

Study published online in the medical journal The Lancet.
Summary.

Read: The First Century after Beatrice, a work of fiction, by Amin Maalouf.

In spite of my white hairs and my supposed wisdom, I admit that I do not know exactly where the frontiers lie which we may not cross. Probably in the direction of the atom, and also certain manipulations of our brain and genes. What I am able to detect with more certainty, if I may say so, are those moments when mankind takes mortal risks with itself, its integrity, its identity, its survival. These are the moments when the noblest of sciences puts itself at the service of the most despicable of aims.

. . .

There are, throughout the world, thousands of cities, millions of villages, where the number of girls has been regularly declining; in some this phenomenon has lasted for nearly twenty years. I do not intend to speak to you of those whom a despicable discrimination has prevented from being born. That is no longer the question. I shall tell you in crude terms what I greatly fear, for it is in these terms that the question must be put: I am thinking of the hordes of males who for years will be wandering in search of a non-existent mate; I am thinking of the furious mobs which will form and increase and run amok, driven mad by frustration — not simply sexual, for they will also be deprived of their chance to lead a normal life, to build a family, a home, a future. Can you just imagine the amount of resentment and violence stored up in these people, which nothing will be able to satisfy or appease? What institutions will be able to resist? What laws? What order? What values?

Yes, violence has already been breaking out all over the place. But this has not yet been the violence of people driven to fury. It has been the violence of worried, anxious people, who have not yet experienced frustration themselves, who have had a family and rejoiced in the birth of a son and heir. They protest, they demonstrate, because they are anxious about the future of their communities, but their anxiety is restrained, since they do not experience the tragedy in their own flesh, since they are in revolt, not against any known evil, but against one that mankind has never yet know, and which remains vague, hypothetical. Tomorrow we shall see the generations of the cataclysm, the generations of men without women, generations amputated of their future, generations whose fury it will be impossible to contain.
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