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How did 100,000,000 women disappear?

Two researchers follow in the footsteps of Amartya Sen's 1990 contention that 100 million women are missing, which at the time he mostly attributed to selective abortion and earlier infanticide of girls. The researchers have found that differences in the death rates of women actually span their entire lifetimes.

In their "elementary accounting exercise" published this February, Anderson and Ray began to plot the causes of excess death in 2000 by age group, and produced some interesting figures.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the dominant source of missing women was HIV and AIDS, the cause of more than 600,000 excess female deaths each year.

In China, Anderson says, most of the 141,000 excess female deaths by injury were suicides, making China the only place in the world where women are more likely than men to kill themselves, often by eating pesticides used for crops.

And in India, a category called "injuries" yielded ominously high figures: 86,000 excess deaths in the age group 15-29 in 2000 alone. Anderson has done extensive research in India, and says the numbers beg the question of exactly how many deaths were so-called "kitchen fires" – often used to mask dowry-related killings, the result of a new bride being tortured by her new family until her parents pay their debts.
Future research will delve deeper, seeking answers to questions such as: How often are men given mosquito nets to protect themselves from malaria, but not women? How many women die because they are not taken to the hospital when they are sick?

The article is short and shallow, but anyway.


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