In India, China and sub-Saharan Africa, millions upon millions of women are missing. They are not lost, but dead: victims of violence, discrimination and neglect.
These are excess deaths: women “missing” above and beyond natural mortality rates, compared to their male counterparts.
Women who are dead because their lives were undervalued.
Around the world boys outnumber girls at birth, but in countries where women and men receive equal care, women have proved hardier and more resistant to disease, and thus live longer. In most of Asia and North Africa, however, Sen found that women die with startlingly higher frequency.
His research began a flutter of activity in academic circles and by 2005, the United Nations produced a much higher estimate for how many women could be “missing”: 200 million.
“Previously, people had thought that they (the missing women) were all at the very early stages of life, prenatal or just after, so before four years old,” Anderson says. “But what we found is that the majority are actually later.” Female infanticide has been endemic in India and China for some time, which she says led researchers to assume that it was the source of all the missing women. But the truth is much more complicated.
Once she and Ray broke down the numbers by age group, they found that the majority of excess female deaths came later in life: 66 per cent in India, 55 per cent in China and 83 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa.
Female infanticide is a huge issue in India. People just do not want girls. The government has tried to step in but what do you do when majority of the population does not desire baby girls.
And this is not a poor-educated issue. My mom is a teacher in a secondary school catering to the well to do families and she sees the gender gap in the classroom. She just does not comprehend why the gap exists. Why would a family opt for a boy to a girl?
And this is just plain sad……
“Why would there be excess mortality of, let’s say, 45-year-old women versus 45-year-old men?” asks economics professor Kevin Milligan. “And what they find is … they have the same set of diseases, they just seem to die more frequently. The explanation that seems most consistent with that is differential access to health care. And so that’s a really striking finding.”
Anderson says that lack of health care is likely a big part of the problem, but that there are numerous cultural and social factors at play that can be difficult to pinpoint.
…..in India, a category called “injuries” yielded ominously high figures: 86,000 excess deaths in the age group 15-29 in 2000 alone. Anderson has done extensive research in India, and says the numbers beg the question of exactly how many deaths were so-called “kitchen fires” – often used to mask dowry-related killings, the result of a new bride being tortured by her new family until her parents pay their debts.