Indian village suffers for lack of women
By Vivek Prakash
SIYANI, India (Reuters) - Nearly two dozen men building a temple in this remote farming village lay down their tools at midday and walk through the dusty streets to a shed where they are joined by another group of men -- and start eating a meal cooked by a man.
They live, eat and sleep together, sharing mattresses on the bare floor of an empty room the way a married couple usually would. All but a handful are unmarried -- a living example of India's rapidly worsening gender imbalance.
Census data released earlier this year revealed there are 914 girls for every 1,000 boys born - a sharp fall since 2001 when the ratio was 933 girls for every 1000 boys.
"I have been looking to marry since I was 15," said Vinodbhai Mehtaliya, a 23-year-old Siyani farmer.
A decades-old Indian preference for male children, who are seen as breadwinners, has led to the skewed ratio, aided by cheap ultrasound tests that assist in sex-selective abortions and female infanticide.
Siyani, in the western state of Gujarat, shows the decline. Here, some 350 men over the age of 35 are simply unable to get married -- out of a total population of roughly 8,000.
"I'm lucky I got married 20 years ago" said 42-year-old Laljibhai Makwana, who works as a diamond polisher in one of the village's small workshops. "If I was young here today I would never get married."
The absence of women is obvious in the village's bumpy, tiny lanes, where cows wander freely, especially in the evenings. Continued...