India: No Girls for the Boys

There is a destruction of human life going on, silently and rarely talked about but reaching such monstrous proportions that it will shake up societies from the Balkans to China. An estimated 100 million baby girls are missing worldwide because of cultural preferences for sons. While in nature various checks and balances ensure a balanced sex ratio, human cultural traits can lead to extremely skewed sex ratios. Prenatal screening techniques and sex-selective abortion create an excess of boys. This in turn threatens to destabilize entire societies.

This project looks at the social underpinnings of a skewed sex ratio in India. The subcontinent has one of the most distorted sex ratios on the planet. Why are boys preferred over girls? Which interventions are parents willing to take? And what are the social consequences of a skewed sex ratio?

Carl Gierstorfer also examines why there is a balanced sex ratio in nature and what happens if this gets out of hand. This project features scientists and doctors as well as parents and men who are unable to find wives. Multimedia reports explore the reasoning behind the preference for boys and show that this isn’t just a numbers game. The social consequences are already tangible and will alter entire societies.

In biology it is said that nothing makes sense if not seen in the light of evolution. Acknowledging the fact that we are a product of life's history on this planet can lead to fresh and often surprising insights. In the end, sex ratios get distorted because of the most fundamental of all evolutionary imperatives: parents wanting the maximum benefit for their offspring.

A Village in India: Where a Cow Costs More Than a Woman

”Even the village children talk to us like dogs,” the women say. They were bought and trafficked from poorer states in the northeast of India and now are kept like slaves in villages in Haryana.