Today I would like to return to a deeply upsetting theme – the “missing” girls in India as a result of sex-selective abortion and infanticide. We’ve talked about this many times before: here and here are some of the numbers; while we’ve discussed the response to the issue by the UN and by Bollywood  ; and we’ve seen the sterling work done by the Rhema Project and by All Girls Allowed. But this is such a terrible issue and it has so many facets to it and consequences that we have not really begun to think about, let alone see. Right back in my first post last year I discussed the frightening prediction that a surfeit of males could lead to increased nationalism, rioting and war.

Another consequence that is slowly coming to light, despite a large amount of societal pressure and the “speak no evil” approach of those who witness it, is the practise of “wife-sharing”. 

“Social workers say decades of aborting female babies in a deeply patriarchal culture has led to a decline in the population of women in some parts of India, like Baghpat, and in turn has resulted in rising incidents of rape, human trafficking and the emergence of “wife-sharing” amongst brothers.

Aid workers say the practice of female foeticide has flourished among several communities across the country because of a traditional preference for sons, who are seen as old-age security.”

This only really hits home when you hear a story told by one caught up in the horror:

“When Munni arrived in this fertile, sugarcane-growing region of north India as a young bride years ago, little did she imagine she would be forced into having sex and bearing children with her husband’s two brothers who had failed to find wives.

‘My husband and his parents said I had to share myself with his brothers,’ said the woman in her mid-40s, dressed in a yellow sari, sitting in a village community centre in Baghpat district in Uttar Pradesh.

‘They took me whenever they wanted — day or night. When I resisted, they beat me with anything at hand,’ said Munni, who had managed to leave her home after three months only on the pretext of visiting a doctor.

‘Sometimes they threw me out and made me sleep outside or they poured kerosene over me and burned me.’”

So why doesn’t anyone do anything about this? Because many people turn a blind eye:

“Such cases are rarely reported to police because women in these communities are seldom allowed outside the home unaccompanied, and the crimes carry deep stigma for the victims. So there may be many more women like Munni in the mud-hut villages of the area.

Munni, who has three sons from her husband and his brothers, has not filed a police complaint either.”

I’ve said it before: gendercide is a terrible injustice. Not only to those girls killed before or after brith, but to those girls left behind and who are not valued in society and are in danger of kidnapping (search for our earlier post on North Korean girls being kidnapped and shipped to China as wives) and rape. It is also an injustice to those men who have no chance of having a wife. Why don’t we hear anything more about this? Because it concerns modern feminism’s sacred cow, abortion? Or because we have sunk into cultural relativism so far that we cannot criticise aspect of another culture? Or just because, deep down, we don’t care? Have we reached the point where actually nothing surprises us or shocks us because that would require a functioning moral compass? I wonder…I’m just thankful that I believe in the righting of all injustices in the end. Otherwise, how on Earth would I be able to face such horrendous things? Perhaps that’s a point: we’ve lost God and therefore we’ve lost the knowledge that “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”. When we see such horrors in the news we can’t react in any way than to shrug our shoulders. Because if we critically engage with it we’d have to admit that in the end the only comfort we have to offer the victims (and ourselves) is that sometimes s*** happens. And that is hardly a satisfying response. Burying our head in the sand works so much better.

Marcus Roberts was two years out of law school when he decided that practising law was no longer for him. He therefore went back to university and did his LLM while tutoring. He now teaches contract and...