Date January 17, 2013 Opinion V. Rukmini Rao and Lynette Dumble
In India and China, where the ratio of men to women is skewed in favour of men, there are higher levels of rape and violent conflict. There is some optimism emerging from the latest study by the US National Bureau of Economic Research examining the ratio of men to women around the world. The World Bank expressed similar optimism in 2009.
Both institutions are buoyed by the partial reversal of South Korea's skewed child sex ratios, which had peaked in the mid-1990s at 116 boys per 100 girls.
South Korea's restored balance, while retaining a male dominance that remains above the accepted biological range (and with greater imbalances persisting among babies born to older mothers), is attributed to the simultaneous introduction of economic, social and legal initiatives.
Government policies that improved gender equality and promoted awareness-raising campaigns are also credited with fundamentally altering the country's underlying patriarchal norms.
Both institutions also claim that child sex ratios skewed towards males (masculinised ratios) are peaking in China and India. Such a claim is highly debatable, especially in light of India's most recent census of 2011, which signalled that 37.25 million girls were ''missing'' from the group aged 0 to 6 years.
Similarly contentious is the World Bank's claim that the ''missing girls'' phenomenon can be addressed in Asia with ''continuing vigorous efforts to reduce son preference''.
Certainly son preference is a major factor in a world of disappearing girls, but patrilinear mindsets alone could not have brought about the current crisis in female numbers.
Rather, only by acting in tandem with imposed population control programs, increasingly cheap technologies that identify an unborn child's sex, and the availability of abortion that stretches beyond the rule of law, has son preference succeeded in distorting the age-old balance between male and female births, thereby creating a generation faced with an unnatural excess of males.
Throughout human history, a masculinised population has translated into criminal and violent conflict; and contrary to predictions that females would become more valued in their scarcity, a masculinised sex ratio has instead amounted to the increased likelihood of girls and women contending with rape, abduction, bride-sharing, trafficking, forced marriage, and various other forms of violence and discrimination.
Both India and China are proving no exception to past experiences, with a significant correlation between increased crime and the falling female component of the sex ratio in India, and a doubling of crime rates during the recent period of male-dominated sex ratios in China.
Defying widely held impressions, the crime of rape is yet to be officially linked to masculinised sex ratios. Yet, according to 2011 statistics from India's National Crime Records Bureau, rape has been the