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"Missing Girls"- Elizabeth Croll

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Through her study, Elizabeth Croll claims there are ‘missing girls’ in China and South Asia, because of the diminishing ratio of female to male infants in these countries. A common trend throughout these countries; which has contributed to the ‘missing girls’ in statistics, is the belief held that sons are preferred over daughters. This belief is encouraged by the cultures of these countries; boys were believed to be of more importance as they could keep the family name, preventing extinction of the family line whereas women, after marriage, adopt their husbands’ family name and become part of another family. Moreover, especially in the rural villages of China, boys can provide physical labour, and are likely to earn more money and be able to take better care of the parents when they are elderly. As governments in these nations have attempted to exercise more stringent population restrictions and family planning policies; there has been a rise in discrimination towards female infants, further emphasising the notion of new born girls being ‘unwanted’.

In China, specifically, studies have shown an increasing imbalance in the number of boys born per 100 girls; confirming millions of girls missing from statistics. This growing imbalance has drawn attention to discrimination against female infants, evident in the treatment of them. With the increased sex ratios, it has been said that there may have been an underreporting of female births; dismissing them from the statistics. However, when Chinese demographers, such as Peng Xizhe, adjusted the sex ratio the difference was an insignificant 5%. Thus it can be conferred that these female infants do not survive pregnancy or birth. It is clear that forms of discrimination are present, which affect daughters before, during, and after birth. These include abandonment, infanticide, sex-selective abortions, and child neglect.

Female abandonment and adoption were common in China; girls were sent away, abandoned, or loaned to relatives outside the neighborhood. Women had to ‘give away their first born daughters in order that they might have a son to continue the family line’- Women’s Federation. This statement emphasizes the lower significance and value placed on females, as families sought for baby boys. Female infanticide has also been present in China for decades. This preference for male children has led to approximately 10,000 female infants being killed in China each year (1996), and along with the abortion of female foetuses has resulted in a sex ratio of 131 males to 100 females (1997); worldwide the ratio is 105 males to 100 females. In rural areas, female babies were often drowned in wells, it was not uncommon to come a across a well with the sign ‘Female babies may not be drowned here’.

With the advancements in technology, sex selective abortions became an option. The widespread availability of ultra sound machines permitted families to identify the sex of the child, before making a decision. There has also been growing evidence of neglect, as more boys than girls receive medical treatment than girls, and there has been a shortfall in the supply female infants have been malnourished, resulting in mortality. As observed by Barbara Miller ‘An intense desire for sons was directly tied to the fatal neglect of daughters’. These issues have also been evident in other South Asian countries like Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, and India where population control and the desire for male children has lead to female infant discrimination.
As can be seen by this article, the one-child policy in China and the implementation of family planning in India has resulted in an increase in discrimination against daughters and the bias against female infants became less obvious. The study of both these countries has shown sex ratios fluctuating in accordance to the stringency of birth control programs; the drive to reduce the birth rate with the increasing number of ‘missing girls’. The one child policy in China were much the cause of the distorted gender composition of surviving children, namely sons, as it was the desire for families to raise a male.

Statistics have shown that areas that are more urbanised, or an educated populace is present, has not necessarily shown a diversion from female discrimination. This imbalance can be seen amongst women in all locations and levels of education. Moreover, statistics taken over recent decades have also proved little disparity; the rising bias against females co-exists with greater economic development, and infanticide is aided and abetted by new technologies. This induces the observation that, although these countries are becoming increasingly developed and modernised in terms of globalisation, infrastructure, etc, the notion of bias against females has remained unchanged. As it is embedded in their culture, countries such as China and India have maintained this conviction with little compromise, despite change and advancement in other areas of life and living.

Question 2

Japan’s population demographics have seen an increase in the number of aged people, and is one of the most rapidly ageing societies in the world; one in five Japanese are ages 65 or over. This has forced changes in social security care and expenditure by the government for this generation. As it is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain the burgeoning elderly population, an ageing crisis is evident in Japan.

This population characteristic can be attributed to the life longevity of Japanese people, as well as a decline in fertility. As a result of changes in the economy, lifestyle, and household arrangements, the average Japanese life expectancy is much above average compared to other countries. Fewer singles choose to marry primarily due to financial reasons, and married couples are unwilling to have children because of the expense. Economic uncertainty, the increase in a career focused generation, as well as more woman in the labour market are all factors of decreased fertility. Thus, there has been a steady increase in aged citizens- increasing the pension payments by the government. Aged citizens have limited cash income, thus rely on public welfare assistance the rapid decrease in fertility has reduced a young working population, thus reducing the inflow of tax to the government making it difficult to support assistance programs, making it ill equipped to support the elderly. In the long run, this may potentially hinder the growth of the economy.

As a way of addressing this demographic change, the government is attempting to increase policy measures encouraging young people to have children. There have been an increase in childcare places, an improvement in the working environment, and more child benefits. Moreover, a number of social care systems have been established have been established to aid older people and reduce the burden on working families.

Population is crucial in understanding Asian societies as it is an indication of the respective views of the countries at current. As can be seen from these texts; countries such as China and India are undergoing population restriction policies as well as the issue of female infant discrimination. Japan, in contrast, is attempting to increase the younger population by encouraging more births.

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