Endangered Daughters: Discrimination and Development in Asia

Endangered Daughters: Discrimination and Development in Asia

Endangered Daughters: Discrimination and Development in Asia

Endangered Daughters: Discrimination and Development in Asia

Synopsis

This unique book examines the reasons why large numbers of women seem to be "missing" from the populations of countries across Asia. Bringing together demographic data and anthropological field studies to paint a vivid picture of the social costs of daughter discrimination across Asia today, Endandered Daughters reveals the multiple ways in which girls are disadvantaged -- from excessive child mortality to the withholding of health care and education on the basis of gender. It argues that the increasing availability of sex-identification technologies will serve to supplement older forms of infanticide and neglect.

Focusing especially on China and India, this compelling account reveals the surprising coincidence of increasing daughter discrimination with rising economic development, declining fertility and the generally improved status of women in East and South Asia.

Excerpt

This book is born of a concern, a concern which has increased during many years of anthropological research on gender, the family and most aspects of urban and rural socio-political and economic development in China . Here statistical and field-work investigations, alongside interviews, personal narratives, anecdotes and observations over the past 25 years, have all suggested that daughters not only continue to be discriminated against in a wide variety of venues but that, in certain circumstances, this discrimination has been exacerbated despite dramatic reductions in fertility and rapid economic development. This long-standing concern with the weaker destiny of young daughters in one country was magnified once others began to identify the numbers of girls 'missing' from other East and South Asian societies. It increasingly seemed that in the context of development, it was daughters who constituted Ghandi's 'last person in the last house'.

This has not been an easy book to write, largely because of the variety of societies that make up East and South Asia and the inter-disciplinary approach required to examine this rising discrimination and undertake a holistic but nuanced and non-ethnocentric study of such a sensitive subject. To make this investigation more manageable, this book largely focuses on the two largest societies of East and South Asia, China and India, and combines anthropological and demographic approaches and source materials. This study is based on my own field work as an anthropologist of China and on the ethnographic enquiries, first-hand observations and personal testimonies of others in China and elsewhere in East and South Asia. These include first-hand reports from a wide variety of sources including historical documentation, contemporary media, circulated anecdotes and, very importantly, autobiographies and other oral recorded and written personal narratives. These less formal sources are a crucial aid in countering an ethnocentric approach in the translation of cultures and in furthering an understanding of how 'others' perceive their choices and their behaviour. This approach is based on the belief that the demographic data together with ethnographic insights can be merged advantageously to provide both a broad yet detailed, and analytical yet

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