Turning Indian Girls Into Boys

india_1931596cIndian parents are paying to have their daughters turned into sons through sex-change operations that cost about 145,000 rupees ($3,200). Up to 300 girls have been surgically turned into boys in one city.

The procedure involves fashioning a penis from the little girls’ female organs. Afterwards they are injected with male hormones, which they will need to take throughout their lives. The procedure will leave these children impotent and infertile in adulthood. No sons or daughters for them.

The Madhya Pradesh government is investigating.

By nature, 105 boys are born for every 100 girls. But in India the rate is 112 males per 100 females. The country now has seven million more boys than girls under age six.

As it is, dowry is so expensive – perhaps as much as a car or a house – that families feel they cannot afford daughters. Surgery is cheaper.

None of this bodes well for Indian society. Men will not be able to have wives or  children. Sex trafficking will continue to rise, and women will be sold into marriage, turning the female of our species increasingly into property.

Such is the curse on cultures that so value males over females.

Unfortunately, education has not increased the value of women and girls. Ranjana Kumari, of the Centre for Social Research, and a fervent activist against sex-selective abortion, told The Telegraph:

The figures are getting worse. In 2001 there were 886 girls born to every 1,000 boys in Delhi. Today there are only 866. The more educated and rich you are, the more there is killing of girls.

In the U.S. conservative columnists have begun blaming abortion for skewed sex ratios.

Really? Without abortion, parents may still try the sex-change thing. Or they may abandon or kill daughters after they are born, or they may fail to give daughters food or medical attention, as they have done for centuries. Or they may still try to abort, as they currently do, despite its illegality in India.

The core problem isn’t abortion or ultrasound or sex-changes or neglecting, abandoning, or killing daughters.

The core problem is that males are valued over females, world-wide, to all of our detriment. As a New York Times reader named George put it:

If men do not appreciate and value women as they should, they will find themselves rendered similarly impotent and lost, the inheritors of their misguided social practices.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on September 13, 2013, in feminism, gender, psychology, race/ethnicity, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. After reading this article it makes me so sad that this is happening to little girls. This is so cruel of the parents that they are focusing their little baby girl to have a sex change operation. These little girls can even decide for themselves because they are way too little understand. Their parents are making this decision and it’s not right. The parent and the doctors doing these operations should be punished because this is horrible. It’s tragic to know that India doesn’t value both genders. No gender should be valued more than the other. There should be equality. I just don’t understand how they parents can willing do this to their little girl.

  2. Such an interesting article! I took Cultural Anthropology last year and read an article pertaining to this topic. There was a quote in the article that I thought was particularly powerful. I don’t remember the quote but it stated that expectant mothers should pay for an ultrasound to find out the gender. If the baby is a female, the mothers should get an abortion so the family doesn’t have to end up paying dowry when she gets married.

    I was adopted in China and was given up by my birth parents. Families in China, like in India, prefer to have male children. For all I know, I could have been given away because I am a girl, though I could be completely wrong.

  3. Traci Rodriguez

    This saddens me and I must say I am in shock that this is being allowed. These young girls are being forced into a sex change operation by their parents. Most of these children are the age of one. They are being pumped up with hormone therapy that causes infertility and the parent are aware of this. These parents are doing this in the hopes of improving the family’s prospects. I had read somewhere that these parents are paying $3,000, which seems to be relatively low cost, to have this surgery and it is all for their privilege of saying “She’s a boy”. I do not think that these parents and doctors are taking into consideration the long term effects on these children. I think this needs to be against the law and the doctors that are performing these sex change operations needs to be punished along with the parents. It is selfish on the parents part to have this procedure done because of financial reasons or social status. I guess it is sad to say but being a man in some countries pay off.

  4. I don’t understand how or why males are more valued than women. Women are the ones who can birth a child, while, it only takes one man to impregnate. One would think that people would value women more than men. Men are expendable.

  5. Yikes…hmm, how about rethinking the old rules regarding expensive dowrys and unequal gender laws instead of non-consensual, forced infant sex changes, sheesh!


  6. Criminally insane.
    And in China if it’s a girl, then many couples prefer to have an abortion!

  7. THe only partially intelligible response I can come up with here is WTH?!?

  8. This is beyond tragic and cruel. I wonder about the doctors performing these surgeries on children, they should be struck off!

  9. Wow I had no idea this was going on. 😦 So horrible and will definitely have serious implications for these children in the future

  10. Apparently its even worse! They actually kill female infants in India, China, Southeast Asia and much of the Middle East according to: http://www.livescience.com/33491-male-female-sex-ratio.html. So sad. I have a beautiful daughter and I’m so glad I wasn’t raised in any of those countries. Stupid things like this is what really hinders humanity’s progression as a whole.

    • Yes. It’s ironic that Mother Nature does so much to keep females alive: shorter and higher fat to better live thru famine, more fat to survive cold, for instance, and then patriarchy kills them at higher rates.

  11. It’s sad when a culture doesn’t realize the value of both genders. Sadder yet when females become nothing more than property to expensive to afford.

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