226099 What happens when there are not enough brides? The consequences of widespread sex-selective abortions

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bonnie Shepard, MEd, MPA , Social Sectors Development Strategies, Inc., Brookline, MA
Sangeetha Purushothaman, PhD , Best Practices Foundation, Bangalore, India
Amy L. Rice, PhD , Social Sectors Development Strategies, Inc., Boston, MA
The skewed male-female ratios due to female infanticide and sex-selection abortions in countries where son preference is strong are well-documented, leading to the thousands of “missing girls” in India, China, and other countries. As access to ultrasound technology has expanded, the ratios are worsening in some areas, in spite of laws banning these practices. The consequences of the scarcity of young women of marriageable age are often described as increased: early marriage, trafficking in women, violence against women (especially sexual violence), and violence among men. However, a recent limited literature search on this topic turned up little firm evidence. This presentation adds to the evidence base by drawing on: 1) a more extensive literature review, including a wide array of peer-reviewed sources as well as grey literature obtained through contacts with organizations working on violence against women and girls; 2) secondary analyses of the National Family Health Survey that consider correlations between early marriage and sexual violence in the most affected areas in India; and 3) case studies based on primary data on Mahila Samakhya -- the Indian government's women's empowerment program – in nine states. The case studies gather evidence from local sources on the effects of skewed male-female ratios in areas where the problem is severe. The literature review, case studies, and survey analysis identify knowledge gaps on this topic and make recommendations about further research needs.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Differentiate speculation from documented research findings related to the consequences for females in regions with highly skewed male-female ratios due to sex-selective abortions and female infanticide. Determine whether there is sufficient evidence that highly skewed male-female ratios cause increases in early marriage, sexual violence, and/or trafficking in women. Identify knowledge gaps that require further research on the long-term consequences of sex-selective abortions and female infanticide.

Keywords: Abortion, Gender

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked in the field of sexual and reproductive health since 1981, with several peer-reviewed articles and one published book. In 2009, I conducted a literature review on the connections between sexual and reproductive health and violence against women for UNFPA.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 3275.0: Sexuality