Monthly Archives: July 2015

Missing girls in India by Senni Tuominen


Photo: Petra Heikkilä

In most human populations the sex ratios are slightly favourable for girls. Sex ratio at birth of women to men is usually around 1.05-1.06. This is not the case in many parts of Asia, where the sex ratio of women to men is around 0.94. The reason for unbalanced sex ratio turns out to be female foetus abortion, female infanticide and the lack of care and nutrition for girls. This is a radical form of discriminations against girls and women.

The phenomenon is visible in India. There the main explanation for uneven sex ratios seems to be sex-selective abortions. The number of girls born is dropping all the time. This is because improving technologies for ultrasound and abortion. Ultrasound scan costs around 10 dollars, so it is seen as a cheap insurance compared to the risk of having a girl. Girls can become very expensive because of dowry payments. The Indian government has been fighting against this practice for decades by legislation and campaigns, but an efficient policy response is yet to be found.

Why does this happen? Some argue ‘missing girls’ can be explained by sexist culture or by India’s economical underdevelopment. In my opinion it is not enough to say that Indian culture causes this, in fact in India women have quite good social and political status. Lack of economic development is neither a sufficient explanation: economic progress has brought technologies for sex determination and abortion available. Educated well-off women are more likely to use them. Poor women lack the knowledge, access and resources for these services.

One must go a bit further with the analysis. Explanations can actually be found at multiple levels: cultural values and society’s structures provide part of the explanation, but explanations can be found also from the community and individual level. Explanations are different between rural and urban areas, between individual situations (education, family size, media exposure) and between religions and castes. Reasons for male preference are diverse and so should be the responses. There cannot be a one simple policy programme that fits for all. It is not only about the culture, not only about the poverty nor only about the individual situation of each family. Rather it is all of these at the same time.


A one-year online certificate course on disaster management

The Tata Institute for Social Sciences, in collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, announces that it has initiated the application process for the admission in Cohort VI of the IFRC-TISS Online Certificate Course in Disaster Management.

For admission process, please register at

Last date for application: 23rd August, 2015

Last date for bursary application: 20th July 2015.

For regular announcements and updates, visit the website