India’s government says more than 63 million women and girls are statistically “missing” by being deprived of food, health care and schooling due to cultural preference for boys.
Officials also said Indian families have more than 21 million unwanted girls, a calculation based on analyzing the gender of last-born children. India bans gender-selective abortions thought the practice of aborting female fetuses persists.
The statistics were released Monday in an annual economic survey.
The government noted that the condition of women has improved in many categories in recent years.
But a combination of cultural beliefs and financial realities mean Indian families dread having daughters. The birth of a son is celebrated, while a daughter’s birth can be a time of mourning, as parents fear the debts they’ll incur for marriage dowries.