What would you do if you woke up one morning and your daughter was missing? Whether figuratively or literally, there are estimated to be over 100 million girls missing in Asia due to female infanticide, sex selective abortion, sex slavery, and human trafficking. All around the world, populations are increasing at an astounding rate. But in some places such as Southeast Asia, especially India and China, these trends are occurring at a much faster rate and with an additional factor of cultures that favor males over females. The condition of the sex ratio in Southeast Asia is severe, and this paper will examine the linkages behind the sex ratio and the proportion of girls being kidnapped and sold as sex slaves or into the global trafficking network.
The global average sex ratio is approximately 105 males for every 100 females. This slight propensity towards males accounts for males' higher mortality rate due to riskier actions such as wars and more dangerous career choices. But in China, the average sex ratio is 118 as of 2010 and in India it is 108 with even higher sex ratios in certain regions within both countries . The trend of increasing sex ratios started in the 1970's with the widespread distribution of ultrasound technology and procedures like amniocentesis that made it possible to know the sex of the fetus before it was born, and thus choose to abort it if it was considered undesirable. In both China and India, there has been a longstanding preference towards sons because they work and earn money for the household, continue on the family name and inherit the estate, and take care of their parents in their old age. And in India, daughters require the disbursement of an expensive dowry in order to be married off, which is economically undesirable. Much of what drives the sex ratio in Asia is economic incentives, which are based off of culturally constructed ideas such as the son preference and the factors that result from it.