Male Preference Continues to Grow in Asia

In India and China, where cultural beliefs remain steadfast, recent reports show that the preference for sons has dramatically widened female-male birth ratios and boosted incidents of infanticide. Despite government efforts in both countries to outlaw prenatal sex determination, ultrasound testsÑtypically done between the fourth and sixth months of pregnancyÑare increasingly popular. At about $4 per test–with the option for a same-day abortion at $15 to $120–92 percent of couples who already have a daughter choose to abort a female fetus, according to a report by Beijing University’s Population Research Institute on one county in central China.

Other villages throughout the country show similar trends, with some regions having a gender disparity as high as 144 boys for every 100 girls. China’s national average is the worlds highest in gender disparity with 117 boys for every 100 girls. Consequently, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) attributes growing frequency of girls kidnapped in China to the shortage of females being born. By 2020, China is expected to have 29 to 33 million unwed men between the ages of 15 and 34, according to research published in International Security.

In India, a preference for male infants has led to an estimated 5 million abortions and 10,000 cases of infanticide every year, reported CNS News. Census data from the last 10 years demonstrate the declining sex ratio, dropping from 972 to 933 women per 1,000 men. The world average is 990 women to 1,000 men.

Experts agree that cultural shifts are needed to supplement new population policies. “[U]nless we change our customs and thinking patterns, the problem cannot be solved,” said New Delhi physician Dr. Ashok Mittal.

UNFPA operates in over 130 countries across the globe providing maternal and child health programs, family planning programs, and programs aimed at the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.

TAKE ACTION Urge Bush to Restore UNFPA Funding

LEARN MORE Click here to read women’s narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.


CNSNews.com 8/8/02; BBC online 8/8/02; NY Times 6/21/02; UN Wire 5/17/02; USA Today 6/19/02

Support eh ERA banner