There are over 190 million less women in the world because of sex-selective abortion and female infanticide
Female infanticide is the deliberate killing of newborn female children or the termination of a female fetus through selective abortion. The practice has been the cause of death for millions and is a major cause of concern in several nations such as China and India being cited by genocide scholar Adam Jones as notable examples. Jones argues that the “low status” in which women are viewed in patriarchal societies creates a bias against females.
In 1978, anthropologist Laila Williamson in a summary of data she had collated on how widespread infanticide was among both tribal and developed, or “civilized” nations found that infanticide had occurred on every continent and was carried out by groups ranging from hunter gatherers to highly developed societies and that rather than this practice being an exception, it has been commonplace. The practice has been well documented amongst the indigenous peoples of Australia, Northern Alaska and South Asia, and Barbara Miller argues the practice to be “almost universal”. Miller contends that in regions where women are not employed in agriculture and regions in which dowries are the norm then female infanticide is commonplace and in 1871 in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, Charles Darwin wrote that the practice was commonplace among the aboriginal tribes of Australia.
In 1990, Amartya Sen writing in the New York Review of Books estimated that there were 100 million fewer women in Asia than would be expected, and that this amount of “missing” women “tell us, quietly, a terrible story of inequality and neglect leading to the excess mortality of women.” Initially Sen’s suggestion of gender bias was contested and it was suggested that hepatitis B was the cause of the alteration in the natural sex ratio. However it is now widely accepted that the numerical worldwide deficit in women is due to gender specific abortions, infanticide and neglect.
In seventh-century Arabia before Islamic culture took root, female infanticide was widely practiced. This is attributed by scholars to the fact that women were deemed “property” within those societies. Others have speculated that to prevent their daughters from a life of misery the mothers would kill the child. With the arrival of Islamic rule the practice was made illegal, however Michelle Oberman believes “there is little reason to believe that call was heeded”