On Wednesday, Nobuko Horibe, director of the Asia and Pacific Regional Office of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) issued a statement before the International Workshop on Prenatal Sex Selection describing the UNFPA’s renewed commitment to ending gender-based sex selection and discrimination against women and girls. Horibe pointed out that that gender imbalances contribute to increased sexual violence against women and trafficking.
According to Horibe, there are as many as 117 million “missing” women in Asia, a number which she argued calls for improved gender equality on an international scale. She stated, “We must accelerate our efforts and give priority to developing programs and policies that foster norms and an attitude of ‘zero tolerance’ for discrimination, harmful attitudes and unethical practices, such as prenatal sex selection. Gender equality is at the very heart of each country’s successful development.”
Gender-based sex selection remains a persistent problem in South, East, and Central Asian countries. As of June 2011, the sex ratio imbalances continue to grow and can be as skewed as 130 males per every 100 females. By contrast, the normal sex ratio is 102-106 males per every 100 females born. The UNFPA notes that patrilineal inheritance and the reliance on sons for economic support and the performance of death rites contributes to the preference for male children. Sex selection can be performed through “prenatal sex detection and selective abortion, or following birth through infanticide or child neglect.”