NEW DELHI (ChurchMilitant.com) - Abortion is a likely contributor to India's rape epidemic. Though touted as a tool of "women's empowerment" by Western secularists, abortion seems to be generating a raft of unforeseen social consequences.
In an April article titled "Why India's Rape Crisis Shows No Signs of Abating," BBC India correspondent Soutik Biswas faulted India's "hierarchical, patriarchal and highly polarized society" for spawning violence against women. But he also noted abortion's role in fueling the country's rape crisis.
"An awful sex ratio imbalance — largely because of illegal sex-selection abortions — means it is a country full of men. The country sees 112 boys born for every 100 girls, which is against the natural sex ratio of 105 boys for every 100 girls, Biswas noted.
"A preference for boys has meant that more than 63 million women are statistically 'missing,'" he wrote. "Many believe such skewed ratios can contribute to increased crimes against women."
"India is not alone when it comes to high rates of incidence of rape," Biswas added. "But many believe patriarchy and a skewed sex ratio may be making matters worse."
The reporter spotlighted another disturbing trend: the skyrocketing number of minors suffering sexual assault.
"India's crime records show that reported rapes of minor children had more than doubled between 2012 and 2016," he noted. "More than 40 percent of the country's female victims were minor children."
In recent years, the same prenatal testing technology wielded against the West's Down syndrome babies has been used to kill unborn girls in India and China. This has led to a massive gender imbalance in both countries — as Biswas noted, a shortage of more than 63 million Indian women.
Though research on the social consequences of sex ratio distortion is sparse, concerns over civil unrest are growing. Over the next 15 years, large swathes of India will experience "a 15–20 percent excess of young men."
The ramifications of such a massive imbalance are dire. In a 2012 EMBO Reports article titled "The Effects of Artificial Gender Imbalance," researchers Therese Hesketh and Jiang Min Min warned:
These men will be unable to get married, in societies in which marriage is regarded as virtually universal, and where social status depends, in large part, on being married and having children. An additional problem is the fact that most of these men will come from the lowest echelons of society: a shortage of women in the marriage market enables women to "marry-up," inevitably leaving the least desirable men with no marriage prospects. As a result, most of these unmarriageable men are poor, uneducated peasants.
In a 2011 Chinese study, researchers found that most of the older unmarried men they interviewed suffered low self-esteem, depression and hopelessness.
According to Hesketh and Jiang, "The combination of psychological vulnerability and sexual frustration might lead to aggression and violence."
They cited empirical support for this possibility, noting: "[G]ender is a well-established individual-level correlate of crime, especially violent crime. A consistent finding across cultures is that most crime is perpetrated by young, single males, of low socioeconomic status."
Hesketh and Jiang pointed to "a particularly intriguing study carried out in India in the early 1980s," which "showed that the sex ratio at the state level correlated strongly with homicide rates, and the relationship persisted after controlling for confounders such as urbanization and poverty."
"The authors had expected to find that the high sex ratio would lead to increased violence against women," they observed, "but their conclusion was that high sex ratios are a cause of violence of all types in society."
Violence is becoming commonplace in India — a vast democracy which, unlike Communist-ruled China, doesn't use an iron hand against its citizens to suppress crime.
In a conversation with Biswas, Delhi-based social scientist Shiv Visvanathan decried what he calls the "breakdown of moral imagination" in India.
"I believe that media is almost tired of reporting violence in India," Visvanathan lamented. "Rapes, lynching, torture is being reported all the time. It's almost like you have to run a torture report, like the weather report."
In theory, India's shortage of women would render them more precious. But, Hesketh and Jiang, noted, "this increase in the value of women could also have paradoxically adverse effects on women, especially in rural societies."
"Benefits might accrue to men, such as fathers, husbands, traffickers and pimps, who control many female lives," they suggested. "Increases in prostitution, kidnapping and trafficking of women in China have already been attributed to high sex ratios."
The researchers pointed to a 2004 study citing an "increase in kidnapping and trafficking of women," and "recent large increases in dowry prices in parts of India" as symptoms of a widening sex-ratio imbalance.
Though correlation does not imply causation, it nevertheless remains that the northern state of Haryana, "which records the highest number of gang rapes in India," is also home to "the worst sex ratio in the country."