I've been reading various Middle East-related stories this afternoon, and I'm reminded of a little-known fact I first heard anecdotally from an Arab friend: it's very common for Arab parents to murder female newborns because males are more profitable. I'm not familiar enough with all the customs to tell you exactly why, but intuitively it makes sense. Arab women have a harder time getting educated, and aren't strong enough to do the same manual labor that men can do. Women are often treated like property in the Arab world.
Murdering your newborn daughter is monstrous, and the cumulative effect of many such murders can cripple a society. Consider Saudi Arabia, which has 1.37 males for every female aged 15-64 years old! More than a quarter of the men will never find a wife! In other Arab nations the ratio is:
- 1.13:1 in Brunei
- 1.14:1 in Jordan
- 1.42:1 in Bahrain
- 1.51:1 in Oman
- 1.65:1 in the United Arab Emirates (!)
- 1.77:1 in Kuwait (!)
- 2.36:1 in Qatar (!!)
If you look at the rest of the countries in the world you'll believe me when I say that these sex ratios are simply not seen anywhere else (in the United States and France the ratios are 1:1, for instance). Imagine how awful it would be for a poor man in Qatar with no prospects, knowing for certain that he will never be able to find a wife, because even the stupidest, ugliest, most whiny woman will have her pick of the available men. Not to mention the fact that the king/sheik/dictator/whatever will have a harem of hundreds.
It's no wonder the men from these nations are so grumpy and disaffected.
As TMLutas points out, it's unlikely that female infanticide is the primary cause of these skewed sex ratios, and I want to be clear that I'm not claiming it is -- however I do think it's a contributing factor (along with other sorts of abuse). Even absent modern medical technology, women have longer life expectancies than men do. The most significant factor may be the large number of foreign workers who immigrate to oil nations to work in oil fields.
The point of this post wasn't so much to condemn female infanticide, but rather to call attention to the gender disparity itself (hence the title).