India Says 21 Million Girls Are ‘Unwanted’ Because of Parents Favoring Sons Over Daughters

Indian girls dressed in traditional attire watch a cultural performance as they celebrate Lohri festival in Jammu, India, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. Lohri is a celebration of the winter solstice observed by Hindus and Sikhs in northern India. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

There are 21 million “unwanted” girls in India due to parents favoring having sons instead of daughters, new government figures show.

Released as part of India’s annual economic survey, the 2017-2018 estimate found that many couples had a “son preference” and would keep having children until they had a boy.

Furthermore, the data estimated that there are 63 million women “missing” from India’s population — with 2 million more from every age group going “missing” every year — because the desire for sons has given rise to sex-selective abortions, and girls suffer disproportionately from disease, neglect, or inadequate nutrition.

The government said in the report that the issue was “a matter for Indian society as a whole to reflect upon.”

Economic and cultural reasons such as property passing on to sons rather than daughters, paying for a wedding dowry, and daughters moving to their husband’s house, all contribute to a preference for boys, the study suggests.

“We know that the sex ratio in India is highly skewed,” the government’s chief economic adviser, Arvind Subramanian said, according the Washington Post.

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SOURCE: TIME, Casey Quackenbush