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Missing: 100 million baby girls

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Oh, the Economist. How I love thee, even though we have such a conflicted relationship.

You’re so stuffy, so haughty, so imperially authoritative.

The London-based magazine is, however, the definitive read for anybody obsessed with politics and finance.

I mean, who else starts out all their letters page addressed to "Sir"? And refers to itself as "this newspaper," like the royal we?

Forget about just looking pretty with that iconic red cover stamp, the magazine can take a news hole of about 1000 words and take on pithy issues like the Texas governor’s race or Columbian election law.    

Which brings me to their most recent cover story: the giant pink letters spelling Gendercide stamped out on the issue’s front cover

Beneath, the question: "What happened to 100 million baby girls?"

(Gendercide, for those unfamiliar with the term, means the killing of baby girls due to low value placed on women in particular cultures.)

When I yanked the issue out of my mailbox, I almost dropped it in surprise – it was like finding out some corduroy-blazer wearing, pipe-smoking uncle is secretly wearing a "This is what a feminist looks like" T-shirt underneath his cashmere sweater. The three-page article doesn’t disappoint, going into detail about gender birth rates in countries like India and China have gone wildly askew.

(In countries like China where the one-child policy exists, there were over 120 boys born for every 100 females from 2000-2005.
That’s created a society of young bachelours nicknamed "bare branches," says the article.)

Crime can be lurid and cheap. It can also illuminate the greatest social chasms in human society, the acts of violence which define who we fundamentally are and how we live.

(I see parallels here, by the way, with the targeting of Aboriginal girls and women in Manitoba by predators)
The article talks about how societies with uneven number of men compared with women can see higher crime rates.  

Says this excerpt:
" Throughout human history, young men have been responsible for the vast preponderance of crime and violence — especially single men in countries where status and social acceptance depend on being married and having children, as it does in China and India. A rising population of frustrated single men spells trouble. The crime rate has almost doubled in China during the past 20 years of rising sex ratios, with stories abounding of bride abduction, the trafficking of women, rape and prostitution. A study into whether these things were connected concluded that they were, and that higher sex ratios accounted for about one-seventh of the rise in crime. In India, too, there is a correlation between provincial crime rates and sex ratios. In "Bare Branches", Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer gave warning that the social problems of biased sex ratios would lead to more authoritarian policing.

Governments, they say, "must decrease the threat to society posed by these young men. Increased authoritarianism in an effort to crack down on crime, gangs, smuggling and so forth can be one result."

And so, The Economist, you done good. There’s no substitute for quality even if it comes served up with a bit of arrogance from time to time.


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About Gabrielle Giroday

Gabrielle has handled the police and crime beat for the Winnipeg Free Press since 2009, meaning she’s seen the best and worst humanity has to offer.

Covering the crime beat in a city known for its homicide rate and violent crime can be challenging, but Gabrielle tries to look at the more complex factors that drive violent events. She began the beat after originally joining the Free Press in June 2005.

Her previous experience contributing to the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business magazine, the National Post, Maisonneuve magazine and NOW Magazine. She was also a member of the editorial board of the Queen’s University Feminist Review, and completed a degree there in politics and English. Some of the Toronto native’s favourite adventures include hitchhiking in the Cuban countryside during a stint studying in Havana, and hanging off the back of a jeep climbing the Kanchenjunga mountain in Nepal.

Gabrielle also felt privileged to write about the first-time elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the summer of 2006, and received a grant from the Canadian Association of Journalists and Canadian International Development Agency to write about sexual violence there.

She recently went to Cameroon in fall 2010 as part of an expert election monitoring team, on behalf of the Commonwealth.

When she’s not chasing a story, Gabrielle can be found jogging every morning by the Legislature and down Portage Avenue.

She’s always enthusiastic about stories that involve investigating the road less travelled or the opinion less broadcast.

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