ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Dispensable Daughters and Bachelor Sons: Sex Discrimination in North india

Daughters may not be wanted but daughters-in-law are necessary for family well-being and perpetuation. Similarly, not all sons in the family receive equal treatment and those who are left bachelors suffer a lesser fate. This paper attempts to move beyond currently available explanations of low sex ratios and daughter elimination. While supporting the hypothesis that large peasant castes in the north and north-west practised infanticide, non-marriage of men and polyandry as strategies to control family numbers in relation to available resources, this paper makes three arguments: one, that these strategies occurred together, two, that one needs to go beyond this explanation to understand why daughters were the dispensable ones and, three, that the number of sons wanted was by no means unlimited.

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