Missing Daughters

Sharada Srinivasan is Assistant Professor in International Development Studies at York University, Toronto. Her research focuses on gender-based discrimination and violence including young people’s experiences of them. Her current work examines the relative value of daughters and sons among the Indian diaspora in Canada, as well as the social transformation underway in India in the context of daughter deficits.

Daughter Deficit: Sex Selection in Tamil Nadu is about girls who are denied the right to live or to be born in India, and it asks why and how such a situation has come about. Daughter elimination in the form of sex selection, female infanticide and neglect is not an aberration or an idiosyncrasy—it accounts for a large proportion of missing girls in India, measured by the sex ratio imbalance in the 0–6 age group. The author examines this disturbing fact from the context of women’s lives to unravel the causes of daughter elimination, and the mechanisms which create and sustain an environment in which this is imaginable.

Using quantitative and ethnographic material, she explains how this practice unfolds in a region which has demonstrated relatively high human development and status of women. From the economic and socio-cultural causes fuelling daughter aversion vis-à-vis son preference, we see the ways in which daughter elimination is institutionalised and reproduced. Reflecting on the way ahead, the book concludes that even as public policies can and should play a decisive role in reversing the immediate outcomes in favour of daughters, an environment favourable to daughters will need fundamental changes in social norms, attitudes and policies of governments and NGOs.

302 pages, Rs 595,  ISBN: 9788188965687