The deliberate abortion of female fetuses is a pervasive and well-documented phenomenon in India — but even when female children are allowed to come into the world, they are threatened by gender discrimination. As Agence France-Presse reports, nearly 240,000 girls under the age of 5 die in India every year due to neglect stemming from a preference for male children, according to a new study in the journal The Lancet Global Health.
To make this calculation, researchers compared the gender difference of India’s “under-5 mortality rate” to that of 46 countries with similar mortality rates, but “no known evidence of gender discrimination,” the study authors write. They estimated that an “excess” of 18.5 deaths per 1,000 births in India can be attributed to the effects of gender discrimination, translating to the deaths of 239,000 girls per year.
According to The Hindu, unwanted child-bearing and subsequent neglect leads to the deaths of so many young girls. The disturbing trend highlighted by the new study was most pronounced in poor, rural regions with low levels of education and high birth rates.
“Gender-based discrimination towards girls doesn’t simply prevent them from being born, it may also precipitate the death of those who are born,” study co-author Christophe Guilmoto of the Paris Descartes University tells the AFP. “Gender equity is not only about rights to education, employment or political representation, it is also about care, vaccination, and nutrition of girls, and ultimately survival.”
Read the full story at the AFP.