The Economist and New Internationalist are both currently running articles about the skewed gender ratios that are being seen in India. While I have seen a lot written about this issue in China I haven't read about it in the Indian context before. If anyone out there knows more about the situation in India it would be good to know if you think these articles are fair.
The Economist has both a leader and an article about this issue.
The article talks about the downward spiral that is being seen for women as the ratios become skewed:
The impact on Indian society is grim. You might have thought that scarcity would lead to girls being valued more highly, but this is not happening. One measure is the practice of giving dowries. Almost no one, rich or poor, urban or rural, dreams of dispensing with these. Rather, as Indians grow wealthier, dowries are getting more lavish and are spreading to places where they were once rare, such as in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, in the south. In Kotla women huddled around Sakina shake their heads when asked to imagine life without dowries: “then nobody would find a husband”, they say.The New Internationalist article focuses a bit more on the situation of young women who are forced or choose to move to other parts of India to marry.
A skewed sex ratio may instead be making the lot of women worse. Sociologists say it encourages abuse, notably in the trafficking of the sort that Sakina first suffered from but is now ready to pay for. Reports circulate of unknown numbers of girls who are drugged, beaten and sometimes killed by traffickers. Others, willingly or not, are brought across India’s borders, notably from Bangladesh and Myanmar. “Put bluntly, it’s a competition over scarce women”, says Ravinder Kaur of the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi.
Men from Haryana and Punjab are being forced to go in search of brides to distant West Bengal and Bihar. The language is different, the customs are different, the food is different. But the brides, poor girls, travel to these distant states because they are poor. Their parents can’t afford the dowry demands in their home states. Now for a Bengali or Keralite girl to marry a Haryanvi groom is like a Sicilian girl being dispatched to Siberia. Everything is different. It’s a whole new country.Comment direction: The problems identified in these articles are directly related to the role and status of women in Indian society. Comments should broadly address this topic. I have also edited the original post so that it is more focused on this.
But for the girls, apparently, it’s not all gloom and doom. If you ask people questions without a preconceived agenda, the answers will often surprise you. They certainly stunned me.
A group of girls from Kerala, where dowry demands are huge, decided ‘to screw Keralite men and their avaricious families. Why allow your parents to be humiliated and pauperized with dowry and wedding demands when there are families desperate for girls elsewhere? These North Indian families are willing to give our parents money to take us into their families as brides. First of all, that was unbelievable. We thought, why go through the degrading, shaming practice of parading yourself before arrogant Kerala grooms and their revolting parents.’
So these girls opted to be daring. To fly away, over a thousand kilometres north, and settle in a new land. And although the food is different and the language and customs strange, they’ve adapted. They’ve decided this is definitely not worse than a dog’s life with no dowry back home. What’s more, they write home and tell others it’s not such a bad deal, come join us.