Widespread sexual harassment and rape of Indian women has received a great deal of media attention for the past few weeks. The triggering event that touched off the media firestorm went something like this:
Police and government officials have reacted in shock and horror and promised to "do something." Women's organizations claim that Indian men are so disrespectful of women and harass them so badly that many if not most women are afraid to go out at night.
Nobody seems to have pointed out the connection between this incident and women exercising their right to choose. Indian mothers have been aborting more girl babies than boys for a long time. This is partly because sons support their parents in old age whereas parents must supply a large amount of money for each daughter's dowry. There used to be a saying in Japan that three daughters would bankrupt any family.
When ultrasound equipment became available, Indian clinics took to the the air with advertisements, "Spend 5,000 rupees to save 50,000." The cost of an ultrasound and an abortion would be about 5,000 rupees whereas the girl's dowry could be well north of 50,000. Half the time, it would be a boy and there'd be no need of the abortion, so the only cost was about $12 for the ultrasound. This was a cost-effective investment.
In China, the one-child policy likewise meant that far more girls were aborted than boys. Although Chinese dowries are not as large as in India, parents don't believe that the government will support then when they get old and want sons to do that. The woman shortage is so severe that a mob of thousands appeared at her dormitory when a coed posted a message saying she was looking for a boyfriend. She hadn't considered the fact that her college has 25 men for every woman.
On May 4, 2010, the Economist published "Gendercide - the war on baby girls" which said, "Killed, aborted or neglected, at least 100m girls have disappeared-and the number is rising."
A 2010 United Nations report says:
In today's world, there are 57 million more men than women. This surplus of men is concentrated in the youngest age groups and steadily diminishes until it disappears at about age 50, thereafter becoming a surplus of women owing to their longer life expectancy. A surplus of men characterizes the world's most populous countries - China and India - hence the large surplus of men worldwide. In most other countries, there are more women than men. The surplus of women in older age groups is significant and is increasing, with obvious implications for health care and other social needs. [emphasis added]
Experts disagree on exactly how many women are missing, but it's clearly a problem. As a result of pregnant women exercising their freedom to choose, there are places in India where there are only about 70 women for every 100 men. Wealthy men get first choice of wives, of course, so the poorer 30% have no chance of marrying.
Being in demand offers women opportunities to "marry up." In the case at hand, the girl was from the lowest Indian class, the untouchables, and the boy was an upper-class Brahman. They met when she became the first member of her family to go to college and had been dating for a while.
The young man states that his intentions were honorable. Her father believed his assurances and gave his permission to for the relationship. His parents would have preferred that he marry a woman of his own caste, but better an untouchable than no wife at all.
Consider how this couple looked to the men on the bus, who were lower-caste and barely employed. They were well aware of the critical shortage of women. When they saw that one of their women was dating a Brahman, they reacted in fury and frustration.
Their anger is understandable - men have strong desires to hang around with women and the men on the bottom of the ladder know full well they have no chance of marrying. Islamic men are driven to become suicide bombers under similar circumstances. Their woman shortage is driven by polygamy instead of by sex-selective abortion, but the result is the same.
We have the opposite shortage in America where so many black men are in jail that black women can't find husbands. Some black women express anger on seeing a black man dating white women for pretty much the same reason the boys on the bus were angry at seeing a lower-class woman dating a Brahman instead of one of them.
As the Economist put it, "Crime rates, bride trafficking, sexual violence, even female suicide rates are all rising and will rise further as the lopsided generations reach their maturity."
Nobody wants to admit that choices have consequences, but the consequences are beginning to show.