Why do Indian girls not marry Chinese men

Tell me where the women are ...

Christophe Guilmoto from the French Research Institute for Population and Development in Paris does not want to talk about the targeted genocide of women, about "femicide". "Parents just wanted to cheat nature in order to avoid the birth of daughters," says the demographics researcher from CEPED, who has been following the development of the global surplus of men for more than ten years. "They just didn't know that millions of other couples had the same idea!"

For a good twenty years now, ultrasound and early blood tests have made it possible to determine the sex of the child during pregnancy. That paved the way for selection.

As a result, more than 117 million women are missing in Asia alone to ensure a gender balance, according to estimates by the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA.

Massive surplus of boys

Without human intervention, the gender ratio of a cohort would be around 105 boys per 100 girls. In China there are currently 116 boys for every 100 girls. In India the ratio is 111 to 100. The two most populous countries on earth have the biggest problem numerically with an imbalance of the sexes. But also in Azerbaijan and Armenia or in Albania and Macedonia the proportion of boys born is far too high.

According to Guilmoto in an interview with DW, clear factors for prenatal selection have now emerged.

"In countries from Albania to China there is a very strong preference in society for sons. If you only want or are allowed to have a small family, you have to choose and decide. And when the technology is available, many will make a selection. if the first or second child wasn't a boy. "

Daughters are a bad investment

The reasons for the desire for boys are too complex to be explained with prejudice alone, says the demography researcher. The family system is based on the fact that at least one son stays at home and takes care of the parents later, since there is usually no other pension scheme.

Sees various reasons for the shortage of women: Christophe Guilmoto from CEPED in Paris

Daughters, on the other hand, marry into a different family and are therefore practically lost to their parents. "Sons carry the family name and sometimes sons are even necessary to perform certain funeral rituals when the parents die."

Meanwhile, governments in China and India are concerned about the effects of the surplus of men. In India, Family Minister Maneka Gandhi proposed a mandatory check-up for pregnant women to prevent the targeted abortion of female fetuses. The ban on sex determination using ultrasound, which has existed for almost 20 years, has had little effect. In many cases, the cost of dowry for the daughters later outweighs a prohibited abortion.

Men who cannot find a wife

In China, a rigid one-child policy resulted in low birth rates for 30 years. The ban on multiple children has now been relaxed, and Chinese families can now have two children, but it will take time for this change to be reflected in numbers. In the People's Republic, around 1.2 million men are left on the marriage market every year. This is the official figure from the 2010 Great Census quoted on the state-run China Radio International.

What social impact will it have if millions of men cannot marry, even though marriage and family are the cornerstones of society in China too? Lisa Eklund is a sociologist at the Swedish University in Lund and did her PhD on gender preference in China.

"Marriage is not just about love or sexuality, but marriage is necessary to become socially adult, to gain status and recognition," she says, based on her studies in rural China. "In societies where the institution of marriage is extremely important and practically universal, it will be a great challenge to socially accommodate this surplus of men."

China has now relaxed its rigid one-child policy

Social inequality is increasing

Lisa Eklund sees two other factors that could cause problems as a result of the excess of men. On the one hand, that marriages are usually early and the marriage market is therefore not very flexible. On the other hand, social inequality in society could worsen.

"In countries with large income differences and high inequality, men at the lower social level will have even fewer opportunities. This will make them even more vulnerable and inequality even greater than it is anyway," says the Swedish sociologist, describing the task that China will face , as a "great challenge".

Ultimately, only the coming years will show what effects the mass abortions of girls of the past twenty years in combination with the previous one-child policy will have. Could frustration and dissatisfaction among the many bachelors lead to social unrest and violence? Or to an increase in forced prostitution and human trafficking, as many women's organizations fear?

The poorest men will go away empty-handed, says Lisa Eklund

"Difficult to say," said Eklund. "We have no conclusive evidence for this." However, the consequences will depend very much on how politicians and the media deal with the problem. "The surplus of men can also serve as a 'scapegoat' for other problems that can lead to frustration, aggression, violence and unrest," warns Eklund. "Simultaneous factors such as unemployment, dismissal, land grabbing, environmental degradation and growing inequality can also trigger violence and anger."

Back to the kids and the kitchen

According to the Swedish researcher, it would ultimately also be conceivable that the lack of women would lead to bachelors trying to advance socially through training, diligence and work in order to become attractive partners on the marriage market. It is certain, however, according to Eklund, that the social position of women will not improve through the surplus of men.

"Societies with a surplus of men are more likely to keep women under tight control."

Christophe Guilmoto, who has been studying the male surplus not only in China and India, but also in Indonesia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia for more than ten years, also draws a negative balance for women. "In the marriage market, women may have a better position, but we're talking about very traditional societies." He points out that women in these countries also have less access to good jobs in the labor market. "It's more likely to put more pressure on women to take on the role of wives and mothers."