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Census Reveals 17 Million Girls Killed in India in age group 1-15 years!

October 2, 2013
ask why_50 million missing

Rita Banerji © copyright 2008.

by Rita Banerji

The 2011 census data for India shows that 18 million girls were exterminated from the population before the age of 15 years.  People often assume that this is primarily due sex-selected abortions.  However, the age-wise analysis of India’s latest census data not only reveals that most of the girls are killed after birth, but that the killings actually increase with age!

For last 7 years I have consistently argued, that the government uses an extremely obscure and strange age range, 0-6 years, to determine child sex ratio.  What constitutues 0 age?  Fetuses? And why would the government put aborted female fetuses and girls killed after birth till the age of 6 years into the same ‘age’ category?  Moreover,  why is 6 years the cut-off age for the child sex ratio age?  Why not 0-2 years or 0-10 years to determine child sex ratio? Is this a deliberate attempt to obscure the data of how many girls are actually killed after birth?

When I began to research journals and different studies that looked at the killing of girls after birth in India, what I discovered was that ALL THE STUDIES that I was looking at were establishing 5-6 years as the age up to when girls born were most vulnerable to being killed.  More so, where data was collated or analyzed there were clear indications that the numbers of girls killed after birth in India was in the millions. I then wrote an article collating this data for the Women’s News Network, which we’ve also published on this blog.  You can read it here: What’s Killing India’s little girls?

My fear, unfortunately, has now been validated by a recently released census report, that determines the sex ratios for each succeeding age year, for the recent 2011 census data.  It establishes that up to the age of 15 years, at least 18 million girls are exterminated from the India’s population.  However it makes a series of even more shocking revelations. It reveals that the bulk of these girls were not eliminated via sex-selection, but were killed after birth! More shocking, is the fact that the killings increase with age.


  • Up to the age of 15 years, there are 18 million girls exterminated from India’s population.

  • Up to the age of 1 year, 955,000 (less then 1 million) girls are eliminated.  This shockingly means the 17 million others are killed after the age of 1 year.

  • In the age group 1-6 years about 7 million girls have been killed (7 million more boys than girls.)

  • In the age group 7-15 years, about 11 million girls eliminated (11 million more boys than girls.  My estimate is that in this age group many girls unaccounted for might have also been sex-trafficked)

Furthermore the analysis also reveals that the number of girls killed in urban areas are far higher than in rural areas.  This establishes another argument that I have persistently made about the India’s female genocide.  I have argued that this is not an outcome of poverty and illiteracy, but that this genocide, like all genocides, is an exercise of power.  This is the fundamental change in our perspective of female genocide that we will have to make, if we want to bring it to a halt! For more, see this article: Why Genocidal Violence on Women in India increases with wealth and education

© The 50 Million Missing CampaignAll Rights Reserved. To share please refer to ourcopyright guidelines.


rita.banerji.photoRita Banerji is an author and gender activist, and the founder of The 50 Million Missing Campaign to end India’s female genocide.  Her book ‘Sex and Power: Defining History Shaping Societies, is a historical and social look at how the relationship between gender and power in India has led to the ongoing female gendercide.  Her website is She blogs at Revolutions in my Space and tweets at @Rita_Banerji

54 Comments leave one →
  1. October 3, 2013 12:04 am

    This is horrifying!

  2. October 3, 2013 4:29 am

    Reblogged this on Social Awareness.

  3. October 7, 2013 8:32 pm

    The more I read, the more I feel pain for women and girls in India. I have just done a translation about brutal Nazi massacres of civilians in Italy and was absolutely horrified. What you describe sounds like genocidal atrocities at the same level, except it has gone on for much longer, and systematically. And continues. In the 21st century. It’s truly sickening.

    • October 8, 2013 11:59 am

      Michelle, That’s exactly what I have argued. That if this was happening to a group on basis of any other parameter like religion, race, ethnicity, it would be unacceptable. But gender somehow is ok, not just in how India views it, but how globally female genocide in India is viewed.

    • October 8, 2013 9:04 pm

      Michel and Rita, I fully agree with you both and when you compare Michel about brutal Nazi massacres in Italy with the female genocidal atrocities in India, is on the same level, but frankly longer over time, and done in a systematic way. And Rita the way you put your ideas/believes/feelings should embarrass the ruling class and make them stop it immediately. In full XXI century these atrocities, put the Human race under the Animal race. Like Michel says, “It’s truly thickening”.

  4. VIna Naik permalink
    October 8, 2013 1:09 pm

    It is true that female genocide happens in India which is utterly horrifying, but I don’t quite understand the part where the author talks about girls after 1 year being killed. I am from India and would have, at the least, heard of it . While the article does make one think, it doesn’t provide information as to where and why. Please do not add to the global stereotype that has been created about the Indian society. If this happens to be true, I promise I will be a part of the revolution in fighting against it! i sure do hope and quite strongly believe it isn’t.

  5. Samuele permalink
    October 8, 2013 1:59 pm

    it’s enough to read…it’s a shame for humanity

  6. Roberto Battista permalink
    October 8, 2013 2:27 pm

    One very important element is missing from this article and would help better understanding: over what period of time is the figure of killings calculated? Is it 17 or 18 millions in how many years and when did the data started being collected? Is the figure the difference between living individuals and the number of births x many years ago? I’ll look for more info.

    • October 9, 2013 12:42 pm

      Each census is done over a period of 10 years. So this one was 2011, the last one was 2001.

    • October 9, 2013 3:16 pm

      @Roberto — This is the 2011 census data. Census data is collected only at intervals of 10 years in India during years ending with a ‘1.’ This wide interval is largely because of the size of India’s population — which is 1/5 of the global human population! Now I think you are asking about the how the data is figuring how many girls are killed in each age group. That’s calculated on basis of what the biological gender ratio is expected to be between males and females and how many are females therefore are ‘missing’ in each age group. The systematic extermination of females in India was first officially recorded by the British in 1872. They began to investigate and found there was widespread infanticide and killing of girls through deliberate starvation etc. And they began to put various strategies out to stop it — like dowry funds etc. None of it worked. Eventually they declared this murder and began throwing people into prison. That worked! And there was an improvement in the gender ratio. But after independence the govt of India just let it slide, till Dr. Amartya Sen in 1986 once again sounded the alarm bell. He calculated that 37 million females were ‘missing’ from India. He was the one to first use the term ‘missing.’ However, the government has made laws etc. but really nothing is implemented. And there is historical proof both from India and more recently from S. Korea that the only thing that will stop this is implementation of laws. Here’s a portal you might want to check out

  7. Anand Rao permalink
    October 8, 2013 2:54 pm

    Also include kidnapped girls, girls whose parents are fooled of jobs for their girls in cities and what about those girls in orphanages who are turned out after they reach 18 years of age? Most of they are sold into Brothels and the others end up with Organ Racketeers!

  8. Soren Carlsen permalink
    October 8, 2013 3:23 pm

    India! ???

  9. rajinder Singh MD permalink
    October 8, 2013 4:16 pm

    The issue is very serious and needs urgent attention and corrective action; I feel there may be an overplay of statistics in the data. Using the word ‘killed’ for all missing girls is too harsh and most likely, factually incorrect. Since you have the data for missing girls, it will be interesting to know how many young boys go missing/die during the same age groups. In India, murder is not the ONLY reason for people to die. Unclean drinking water, contaminated and adulterated food, natural disasters and roadside accidents are also major contributors to mortality and morbidity. So only after removing those cases from the data can we have a peek at the real murders. It may reduce the numbers and it make it seem less shocking, but I feel it is better to define a problem accurately before starting to teat it with all our energy.

    • October 9, 2013 3:26 pm

      @Rajinder Singh — In the Nazi concentration camps would you say the prisoners who were starved to death were killed or would you say they died because they were not given food since they were Jews? I would say they were killed, starved to death because they were Jews. Just as girls are killed, starved to death or allowed to die by not being given medicien when they are sick, because they are girls. As for violence we do not have a system in India that requires all unnatural deaths of children or women to be registered. In fact for those of us in the field we know even when there are killings you can go tell the police and they will look away and not even file a case! But there are studies on domestic violence in INdia that clearly show that VIOLENCE IS killing girls (as well as women) in the same homes. Please do read this report and click on the embedded links to further read other research reports on studies conducted on ground.

  10. Joanna permalink
    October 8, 2013 6:12 pm

    To get insight in the whole problem, isn’t there a surplus of 100 million men in India and China together, men that never will get a normal relation with a woman – in China alone: 36.000.000 men that are called ‘Gunung gun’ or ‘naked twigs’?
    This is a human disaster, because of manipulation of gender!
    Do I see this right? Tell me and when I am misunderstood, it’s because of language-problem. I was a feminist of the second movement in the sixties Joanna (born in 1941)

  11. Alexis Kaplan permalink
    October 8, 2013 6:15 pm

    The underlying motivation appears to be greed and the culture of dowrys and laws supporting them further facilitates. The solution must come in the form of removing the financial incentive to murder.

  12. Jill Pirdas permalink
    October 8, 2013 8:13 pm

    An NGO in Tamil Nadu, Theni district in south India has over the years managed to rectify the gender imbalance in this rural area. Just over a decade ago the census in Theni district showed only 891 girls for every 1.000 boys under six years of age. Years of campaigning was seen to have paid off when the 2011 census revealed 937 girls for every 1.000 boys. However a women’s movement conducted its own survey in more than 300 local villages and found that while in older children aged 6 to 15 the sex ration is 918 to 1.000, in children below the age of six it is now 1.006 girls to 1.000 boys! Empowerment of women through small income generating projects, better education for girls, better health resulting in smaller families, the targetting of families at “risk”, monitering and councelling, the reporting of cases to the authorities and the arresting of culprits have also discouraged this practise. I had not realised that the majority of female infanticides are committed against older children. This is truely most distressing. Thank you for bringing about this awareness to the world at large.

    • October 9, 2013 3:34 pm

      @Jill — The 2011 census data also shows very clearly that in the poorest 20% of Indians the gender ratio is the best. In fact consistently rural areas have been much much better than urban areas, and poorer families have shown much better gender ratios than wealthier more educated families. In fact the gender ratio in the poorest 20% over the last decade it seems has improved and is closer to normal. It gets worse as you go UP THE ECONOMIC AND EDUCATION LADDER. And it is the worst in the top most 20% of Indians. Now if you take these two pieces of information together, that girls are being killed more after birth and that the worst ratio is as you go up the economic and education ladder. This is what we have to address:

    • Jill Pirdas permalink
      October 12, 2013 10:32 pm

      One way to help prevent female foeticide is to send pregnant ladies to various clinics to ask for the results of the scan and report back. Clinics are now more and more frightened to disclose the sex of the unborn baby. They do not even try to code their replies, for example if you were told, “Come back Thursday” it meant that it was a girl. The whole thing seems to boil down to money, and at the higher ecconomic level, greed. Dowery like the caste system “untuchability” is outlawed, but how to impliment the law? Those who murder their girls should be brought to justice like any other murderer, and it should be SEEN to be done. I know that in certain villages there is a conspiracy of silence – if a woman has a girl child who “dies” at birth, they know how crippling a dowery can be especially if there is already one girl or more. I don’t know the answer, but huge campaignes of awareness should be undertaken concerning the worthyness of girls and women, and local NGOs and government agencies should keep a close watch on families at risk, ie those with already one girl, give councelling to all concerned, set up women’s self help groups who can put pressure on families to look after their girls. Children in schools should be educated in gender issues to try to break this age old conception of women as second class citizens. All this until something can be done about the dowery system which is so deeply engrained in Indian society.

    • October 18, 2013 12:21 pm

      Jill — Female feticide is not so widespread as this census shows. Of the 18 million girls exterminated by age 15 yrs, less then 1 million are killed before 1 year. That includes both babies birth to 1 year and the female fetuses aborted, which means the abortions are not accounting for the major part of female extermination. 2) It’s assumed doctors are making secret signs etc. That was long ago when the laws were made and then the doctors realized there is no fear of violating them. There are videos that are shown on prime time news channels in India that show doctors openly telling patients ‘If it is a girl we’ll clean it out’

    • August 18, 2014 1:09 am

      [sorry for the very late comment but I just saw this blog post from Rita’s Twitter]

      I think the money is a relatively small contributor to the problem. In Chinese culture it’s the other way around, the groom’s family pays a brideprice to the bride’s family, yet sex-selective abortions of female fetuses and stealing of male infants was still a problem until recently. Dehumanizing and devaluing of women is the fundamental problem and dowry only makes it a little worse.

      Conversely, in a hypothetical society where women were valued you could imagine that a boy’s family would be willing to settle for a small token sum of the dowry to get a good daughter-in-law.

    • Michael Dowling permalink
      August 24, 2014 12:17 pm

      In a hypothetical society as you called it, wouldn’t it be better to have no dowry/bride price/groom price? Building in financial obligations to marriage seems doomed to attract the worst elements of society as the greedy will always seek ways of making more money through the process, putting people in danger financially and physically.

    • August 28, 2014 11:28 am

      Yes Michael, that’s why we have laws banning the giving and taking of dowry. Indeed we have laws banning murder for dowry or for that matter murder for any reason. But the laws especially for women and girls are blatantly ignored! That’s why our push is to tell parents and women not to marry men who demand dowry or to get out of the house with the first dowry demand after marriage. But even when women want to, in India the problem is parents force them to continue in the marriage which often results not only in violence on women, but the daughters they give birth to.

  13. Charles Barnes permalink
    October 8, 2013 8:15 pm

    Dear Rita, Do you have any idea what the underlying cause of this brutality is? I have seen some suggestions that it is connected with the dowry system ( which I understood to have been made illegal) but other suggestions that brides are now so scarce as a result of these murders that men are now paying a reverse dowry to attract a wife. To my mind these are both bad practices, but if the second view is correct it would suggest a reason why females would become more valued.

  14. Ab Wahab Long permalink
    October 9, 2013 6:58 am

    Dear Rita, after I read your analysis, I find it SHOCKING, that this is still happening in MODERN India. If you understand the Wisdom of Warren Buffet equation of Outcome = Event + Reaction/Response and Napoleon Hill and Gregg Braden philosophies of life, Cycle of Will, you will realised that, what is happening in India, especially on this issue, the beliefs of Hindus Indian, no matter what you may say, have a lot to do with this. It is the beliefs that shapes and influences the perceptions, which then fuels the thoughts, then the thoughts influence and shapes the feelings, and feelings will finally influences the actions. These actions against women in India, have so much to do with religion, customs and traditions which had shaped the Indian sub continent beliefs for thousands of years. You and all of us, have to work upwards from down to up. Try to break-up and refine your analysis on this issue by religious groups, I think you will agree with me. I will help you to spread this around the world, but I think we have to refine and get to the REAL REASONS WHY.

    • October 9, 2013 3:44 pm

      Ab Wahab — This was initially about 50 years ago even mainly concentrated in Hindu communities. But right now it is in all religious communities, even among tribal groups who never had this practice. Or in areas that were matrilineal and never had this practice.

  15. October 9, 2013 10:32 am

    The Bhagavad Gita (IX.32) states that vaishyas, sudras and women are born of a sinful womb, but can still attain salvation by praying to Krishna. This indicates the low status of women in ancient India. Now in the 20-21st centuries we read about dowry deaths, gender-selective abortions, sex trafficking, ‘honor killings’ in the thousands, and of course 100s of rapes even in Delhi. What can Indians settled abroad do to change this horrible evil in Indian society?

    • October 9, 2013 3:56 pm

      Sid — I think that the systematic killing of a group in any country — be it women in India, or the Jews in Germany, always has its moral justifications in its religious, literary and cultural history. And it involves the dehumanization of that group so as to justify in one way or another its killing. The basic psychology and social mechanism of all genocides are the same. The gender ratio in the Indian communities in the U.S. is awful and there are increasingly cases of dowry violence among women there. I have lived in the U.S. and have been an active pro-choice supporter. But I have also argued that the cultural dynamics in Indian communities, where husbands and inlaws force (mentally, emotionally and often through physical violence) women to abort their female babies, is not choice! I do believe that the feminist stand on choice would be strengthened in the U.S. if like the UK and Norway they had supported the banning of sex-selection. But Indian American feminists while on one hand admitting that Indian women there are forced emotionally or physically to have abortions, still say that banning sex selection would target Indian communities! This is weird reasoning and it concerns me that Indo-American feminists always put culture above the safety of Indian women there. Why do they do it? It’s also important to note that most companies that are making sex-selection technology view India as a ‘market.’ It has no large ‘market’ in the U.S. or the west (other than the iNdians and Chinese living there). Imagine if this was Hitler’s eugenics program in today’s world. How would government respond to these companies viewing the genetic selection against a human group whether based on race or based on gender? So if there is a movement for these 2 suggestions I’ve made I think it would a big help. Do also see this article (and click on the links embedded)

  16. October 9, 2013 3:06 pm

    Does this mean 17 million girls are killed every 15 years? Or 17 million girls under 16 years of age are killed annually? Or is it something different altogether? Sorry, I’m confused by the explanation. Please clarify.

    Whatever the explanation for the murder of these poor girls, it is still wrong and drastic, urgent and persistent action needs to be undertaken to end the gendercide.

    • October 9, 2013 5:19 pm

      Michael — For 2011 they gather the data I think from April 2010 – April 2011. So they draw a population profile for the data gathered in 2010 where they estimate how many people, gender, age etc. Then in the age bracket 0-1year, 1-6years, 7-15years they figure how many people, boys and girls, and what the gender ratio is. Then they compare the gender ratio that is with what should be biologically and that’s how it is estimated how many girls are “missing.”

  17. October 9, 2013 4:23 pm

    Reblogged this on REVOLUTIONS IN MY SPACE: A BLOG BY RITA BANERJI and commented:

    0-6 years! That’s the officially defined age group I was always suspicious of when looking at gender data in India.

  18. October 10, 2013 1:04 am

    Reports of murdered & abandoned children’s bodies being found in streets are very common in the Indian mainstream media (Hindustan Times, Times of India…). 2 years ago they were printed daily on Hindustan Times cover page (before street gang rapes took over).

    But these reports NEVER highlight that the bodies are ALWAYS females! A real taboo and determination to ignore the lethal violence targeting girls in their own homes.

    • October 11, 2013 12:28 pm

      True, if you click on the inserted article ‘What’s Killing India’s Girls?’ there’s a link to a study on domestic violence where it was found that in the same homes where violence was killing women, it was also killing girls. And the study emphasized that the violence was not inflicted on children if they were boys!

  19. siddhartha shankar roy permalink
    October 10, 2013 10:13 am

    who kill girls they are animals who have any point of humanity can’t do it

  20. October 14, 2013 2:01 am

    It is important to make a clear statement about the “killings” beyond sex-selected abortions. This has been documented but what are the other forms of “elimination” of girls under age 6? Sen has written about providing less healthcare, proving less food for girls than boys. But we should have evidence, even anecdotal, about how this may operate in India – both rural and urban, if possible. Also, what needs clarification is the extend to which this may be done through neglect, rather than inflicting violence. Otherwise, it sends a strange message about Indian society – which of course is silently complicit in the “gendercide” – but how actively and how passively?

  21. Divya permalink
    December 16, 2013 10:29 pm

    Clearly shown this is very horrible to heart is full of pain and sorrow.rita sister i want to write a book on women discrimination when i am 7th class.can you help me

  22. Himi permalink
    February 1, 2014 12:02 pm

    i feel dt things are far worse than what has been projected. There are places in Haryana & Punjab where new born girls are covered in wet towels so that they succumb to pneumonia. Ironically these places are economically well off which negates the point dt female infanticide is linked wid poverty(as rytly pointd out by ms.Banerjee). families wid no male child are often taunted & seen wid sympathies by neighbrs & relatives. Another issue is even if d gals survive & dere parents try to bring dm up wid all opportunities, dere r alwys sm implied social norms& restrictions dt only girls r supposed to bear, be it in school, college or offices.

  23. Jill Pirdas permalink
    February 4, 2014 7:21 pm

    People in so many parts of the world, not just in India, seem to consider having a boy child as something superior than having a girl. I suppose that one reason is that men desire to have their name carried on. When my Greek mother in law had three girls before having a boy, my father in law was furious with her. Men should be aware that it is they themselves that decide which sex the baby is! How can we change people’s attitudes that are so ingraned, I do not know the answer

    • February 5, 2014 11:16 am

      Jill — that’s what I’ve argued, that misogyny is global. Yet, why is India killing girls and women. Why aren’t other countries, even those much poorer than India, for e.g. in Africa, where male children are equally desired killing girls and women. What sanctions this female blood bath in India?

  24. Jill Pirdas permalink
    February 5, 2014 6:42 pm

    I don’t know Rita. Who does? I know dowry death is only one reason, but do they have dowry in Africa? Could that be a reason? Do African women have to go to live with their in-laws after marriage? Like you I’m trying to find an answer.

  25. August 10, 2014 11:13 am

    Reblogged this on Thoughts And Views That Matter! and commented:
    Census Reveals 17 Million Girls Killed in India in age group 1-15 years!

  26. Mimi Metcalfe permalink
    November 17, 2014 6:29 am

    1. Get INDIAN Females OUT of INDIA via Asylum Seeking OR Immigration

    2. THEN they can deal with this D#G S&%T Outside of INDIA and in a First World Nation.

    3. There are SO many FEMALE INDIAN DOCTORS here in AUSTRALIA!! INDIANS have


    COME to the FIRST WORLD!!!!

  27. Mimi Metcalfe permalink
    November 17, 2014 2:27 pm


    • Jill Pirdas permalink
      December 7, 2014 11:20 pm

      This is going to back fire horribly, IS backfiring already with men having to buy wives. Apart from being cruel and un godly, it’s so obvious that you cannot meddle with nature. When will we learn?


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