Sex Imbalance Results from 117 Million Missing Asian Women
A sex imbalance due to 117 million missing Asian women is the prognosis for several countries where ultrasound and other sex-selecting technologies are used toward gender selective abortion. According to the United Nations Population Fund Agency (UNPFA), the trend towards skewed sex ratios will adversely affect some Asian countries for the next 50 years—even if normal sex ratios return within the next 10 years.
Normal sex ratios range between 102 and 106 males for every 100 female infants born. However, in some regions in Asia, the sex ratio is imbalanced with males outnumbering females as high as 130 male births for every 100 female births. The cause of this sex imbalance is due to parents using ultrasound technology to determine the sex of the fetus followed by choosing to abort a female fetus.
The UNFPA states that this is a serious problem that has moral implications. According to UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, "Discrimination against girls anywhere in the world is a social ill and human rights violation, which must be stopped. Girls, like boys, deserve equal love, equal opportunity and equal rights."
Not only is the sex imbalance a moral issue, but a problem for men seeking brides in the near future who will find it difficult if not impossible to find a mate from their homeland.
In a joint international meeting in Hanoi this week organized by the UN and Vietnam, world leaders and experts in population studies are meeting to discuss ways to reduce sex ratio imbalances in Asian countries. “We must join forces to ensure that sex selection is understood as discrimination against women and girls and should end,” said Ms. Nobuko Horibe the Director of UNFPA’s Asia and Pacific Regional Office in her speech to experts at the conference. “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.”
Ms. Horibe states that there are approximately 117 million women missing in Asia because of gender selective abortion made possible through the misuse of ultrasound and other sex selecting technologies. Her message to the convention’s attendees is that only through concerted efforts by governments and community networks can behavioral changes be made that will end sex selection practices and discriminatory attitudes towards women and girls.
She warns that if steps are not taken to end the trend toward aborting female fetuses that there will be dire consequences. “Many men face the prospect of not finding brides, creating the risks of potential social unrest, increased sexual violence against women, and trafficking,” said Ms. Horibe. “Already, we are seeing an increase in cross-border brides, and there are signs of how the upcoming “marriage squeeze” could lead to social disturbances.”
The trend in sex selection is very prominent in China as well as some Eastern European and Central Asian countries, such as Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. India in particular is a target country for ending the practice of sex selection. Recent research estimates that 2,000 girls wind up “missing” in India every day as a result of illegal sex determination and female elimination.