Rights of the Silent Majority – Femme? Fatal!

It’s all in the punctuation after all. This is the first FTB post on the Silent Majority theme. I try and group posts under various themes, so that people roughly know whats in the post. I quickly found out that not everyone is interested in every topic.

One of the amusing bits about human evolution and indeed human demographics is that our genders aren’t equal in terms of life expectancy and survivability. In nearly every country across the globe women outlive men. This actually means something very interesting.

There are more women on the planet than there are men. It’s a slight majority at the moment. 51% of people on the planet are women. They are the majority, albeit a silent one.

Reproductive rights are a contentious subject in India for a different reason than they are in the USA. Contraception is cheap, subsidised and easily available. India is facing a crisis on the scale of the holodomor or worse. India has too many people. We aren’t talking about “the breaking point” in a few years, the breaking point has passed.

Today in India I have power for only 22 hours a day. The hospital where I am posted has it for 14 to 16 hours a day. A cousin lives in a place where there are 18 hour cuts. There are so many people that electricity is running out. India needs to lose close to 50% of it’s population to be stable and around 70 to 75% to have a stable self sustaining first world demography.

This is a titanic goal. India has 1.2 billion people on it. It’s got enough people inside it’s boundaries to populate most continents comfortably.

So in India we have contraception. It is cheap, plentiful and easily available. Most hospitals and clinics give out free condoms. The IUD is available for cheap. The pill is available in more urban areas. There are government incentives to get tubectomies and vasectomies. The One Child Ideal is flogged heavily but the overall message still hasn’t reached everyone. It’s a good thing…

But what’s the contentious issue? India is one of the few countries on the planet where there are fewer women than men. The age demographic in my age group is 1:8.5 for every 100 men there are 85 women. India’s women are vanishing at an alarming rate.

The reason? It used to (And Still Is) Female infanticide. Female babies meet with an inordinate amount of accidents. They often die young. Often the logic is not that it’s murder but saving the child from suffering. The mother not wanting the child to suffer. A lot of the time it’s death by negligence. But that’s falling. Prosecution of such cases is good after all. But what’s the reason for the fall?


Gender selective abortion is rife in the north of India. Lack of oversight and corruption means that it is easy enough to get information regarding the foetus and terminate a female child. This has led to an increase in trafficking of women as brides from the eastern parts of India, Nepal and Bhutan. It is estimated that 50 million female foetuses were terminated over the decade resulting in this demographic shift. It’s a practice seen in the west too amongst indian communities.

So what does India have to do? The current law states that the pre-natal ultrasound screenings should not include gender. Indian parents do not know if the child is a boy or a girl until the child is born, or atleast they shouldn’t know. However they are still finding out. It’s not hard to sneak a peak at the ultrasound after all, and in a country infamous for it’s corruption, there are probably clinics that let patients know the gender of their child for a fee.

It’s not religious, it’s cultural. The three major religions of India (Hinduism, Christianity and Islam) all demonstrate this problem. It’s mainly in the north but it is seen in the south too where the treatment of women is better. It’s the misuse of useful technology. It’s a republican’s wet dream, a group of people misusing abortion for pointless and almost frivolous purposes.

In medicine you have 3 types of treatment. Personal, Social and National. How you treat the patient, the community and everyone. The ultrasound restriction treats at the level of the patient. But for the community? For India?

Only a complete destruction of the notion that girls are not wanted. That the entire sexist culture of India needs to be destroyed and replaced for the better. It doesn’t have to be “western” in origin. It can actually exceed the equality of western culture. After all, India manages to break down the western barrier between male and female engineers, IT and mathematics students. Why can’t it do the same for this?


  1. Lofty says

    So, female children are less valued, yet women’s work still needs to be done and men need to marry. Is it the unwillingness of parents to spend their money on a dowry?

  2. says

    Yes. A dowry is a lot of money. And then you have a second problem.

    In a world where men are a commodity to be purchased for your daughters. What sort of man would go for free?

    Then realise the problem that those who wish to change the system face. If you ask for no dowry then they may not marry you because they will think that the deal is way too good and that there is something else wrong with you.

    No Dowry = Damaged Goods… It’s like the cheap furniture section of Ikea.

  3. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Is that something that increasing women’s ability to make money on their own would improve? A woman with a decent salary is her own dowry, so to speak.

    Also, you typoed “holomodor” instead of “holodomor”.

  4. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    In a world where men are a commodity to be purchased for your daughters. What sort of man would go for free?

    I always considered dowry’s to be the bribe the man’s family demanded for taking a useless daughter, but your way also works.

    @Forbidden Snowflake: It doesn’t work that way. Considering the woman’s education and potential income as her “dowry” doesn’t give the man’s family a chunk of cash to spend.

    A college friend (not-Indian) was engaged to an Indian student, and despite her coming engineering degree, his family told her and her family that they expected $10,000 cash up front before the wedding. No refunds!

    She told his family to stuff it. They came down to $8,000 … she told him the engagement was off.

  5. machintelligence says

    If women come to be in short enough supply, perhaps a bride price (paid by the husband’s family) will replace the dowry. It would be supply and demand in action.

  6. katkinkate says

    You would think the reduction of females would result in a reduction of the birth rate. All the women in the world need to go on strike for better conditions. Pity there isn’t an extra continent we can take over as refugees from sexism.

  7. rork says

    That, and maybe the valuation will change too. As you get closer to equality, daughters may become worth more than sons – their children are more certainly part of your family than the children of sons. That’s how it plays out where I live (USA).

  8. Lofty says

    From the OP

    This has led to an increase in trafficking of women as brides from the eastern parts of India, Nepal and Bhutan.

    I think that brides will rise in price, but the Indians who preferably have male children will still think they are winning financially. After all, a woman is only a possession, so origin is considered unimportant. Do the imported brides come with dowries?

  9. says

    China has a system where female babies are simply dropped off (no questions asked) and those babies are put up for adoption.

    Before I became pregnant, we were considering adoption and we were told that adopting a female child from China was probably the best option for our situation. (We are from the U.S.)

    China has made progress with the value of female babies, but I know in India there are all sorts of other cultural ramifications of having a boy or a girl; to the point where sometimes girls are presented as boys as they grow up. I don’t know how wide-spread that practice is though.

    Does pretty much everyone in India follow the dowry tradition?

  10. says

    Sometimes I realise how sheltered I am. I had no idea people still take this dowry shit and boys are better than girls crap seriously. I’m lucky my parents are educated and from Malaysia, where some of the backward Indian customs died out. This is some seriously f’ed up thinking.

    My parents had semi-arranged marriages (they were introduced by their families and given the choice to say yes or no, but I don’t know how real the choice was) but luckily no one cared about dowry or caste. I feel sick now. My sister’s engaged (to a nice Vietnamese boy) and no one will mention dowry except maybe as a joke. Like, I’ll give you thirty goats to marry my daughter. It’s a form of privilege that we can joke about such things.

  11. says

    You have to realise that the real face of India is rural not urban. Education and the like are harder. You are trying to change millenia of behaviour.

    It is a zero sum game in India.

    Want to know something crazy? The BIGGEST change to women’s rights in rural society comes at the hands of TV. TV shows rich indian yuppies who are less sexist. This causes poor farmers to aspire to being “rich yuppies” and so the less sexism is part of that. Spousal abuse is lower in places where TVs are even if the TV was just given to them. As were birth rates. The TV reduced birth rates more than the condom awareness programs.

    We really don’t know what the mechanism is but politicians grabbed onto that and just give out TVs for bribes using that logic.

  12. Lofty says

    Fascinating. Who would have though sitting in front of the idiot box lowers the libido? Couldn’t be the educational value of TV, surely.

  13. octopod says

    Hey, people learn by example, and they regard the people on TV as ni some sense their neighbors; hardly surprising.

  14. HM says

    Good for her, stupid that I’m expected to do that (as a Sikh woman – parents agree with me that it’s stupid and never asked for anything when my brothers got married).

    Dumb that they’d expect that from someone who has green up in the west. And the guy’s an idiot for not saying to his parents, that this is a stupid tradition and needs to be discarded.

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