Is female feticide declining in Asia?


by Rumbold
14th August, 2009 at 9:08 pm    

For a long time China and South Asia were recording an increasing gap between male and female children, as a result of female feticide. Amartya Sen estimated that in China and India alone, there are 83 million fewer women than there should have been. It seemed like it would only get worse, with the gender imbalance making little difference. Supply and demand seemed irrelevant as females continued to be aborted in record numbers. Some areas short of girls even took to raiding other areas for brides.

However, new information suggests that the tide might be turning. Firstly, reports from China show that girls are becoming a more attractive prospect as a result of increasing urbanisation and rising house prices:

“Sons are seen as more valuable, especially in the countryside, because they have been traditionally responsible for caring for their parents in old age. Many families take advantage of cheap ultrasound tests and abortions to guarantee their one child is male.

However, the traditional roles are now being reversed in urban China. “The reality is that having a son or daughter makes no difference when parents need support. Unlike in rural areas, city residents are covered by social security,” said Chen Youhua, a demography and sociology professor at Nanjing University.

In most marriages, it is the son’s family which is required to buy a house for the couple – a ruinous expense in many cities. Property prices in China’s major cities soared by as much as 60 per cent between 2007 and 2008, and are expected to rise another 10 per cent this year.”

Meanwhile, in Delhi, the number of girls being born has outstripped the number of boys born, for the first time in decades.

Yes, neither report represents a comprehensive change, but it is a sign of progress.


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Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,China,Sex equality,South Asia






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  1. pickles

    New blog post: Is female feticide declining in Asia? http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/5524




  1. Trofim — on 14th August, 2009 at 9:46 pm  

    “Feticide”? – so what’s the difference between feticide and abortion?

  2. halima — on 15th August, 2009 at 12:46 am  

    “”Many would-be parents want to have daughters to reduce their financial burden. Girls can marry rich husbands,” she said.”

    Quoted from the research in the link. I don’t know if this is progress.

    It’s interesting, behind the statistics, the social attitudes about men and women take longer to change. Outwardly China appears to have achieved gender equality, but if you travel to the provinces, you will see the situation of women similar to those in other poor countries. Women in rural areas are face more barriers to education and work compared to their urban sisters. Even in cities women look similar to women working in Europe, but actually, dig beneath the statistics and you’ll find preference for male employees and especially in public institutions.

    In Shanghai where the government is considering relaxing it’s one-child policy, it won’t make much of a difference as Shanghai couples have adopted the attitudes and lifestyle of only wanting one child – irrespective of the law. There’s no incentive for couples to have more than one child – too expensive.

    The preference for girls is linked to the need for caring for the old – China is fast approaching demographics like Japan and Europe where the population is getting older, but there is little social protection for the old and so women and girls do what they traditionally have done – work and care at home.

    China also has the highest rate of suicide among adult women anywhere in the world .. And that’s not just because of the largeness of China’s size where numbers are always more striking …

  3. Shatterface — on 15th August, 2009 at 1:45 am  

    ‘Yes, neither report represents a comprehensive change, but it is a sign of progress.’

    Sorry, but I don’t see the fact that they’re murdering fewer baby girls because of their higher market value as ‘a sign of progress’. ‘Behaving slightly less abominably, but for purely selfish reasons’ might be more accurate.

  4. Hantsboy — on 15th August, 2009 at 10:17 am  

    Killing girl babies.

    Almost as bad as supporting BNP I guess.

    Almost but not quite.

    Nothing could be as bad as that.

  5. Rumbold — on 15th August, 2009 at 10:55 am  

    Trofim:

    “Feticide”? – so what’s the difference between feticide and abortion?”

    The terms are interchangable, but I prefer to use to former when talking about abortion when it is gendered.

    Halima and Shatterrace:

    I agree that it is not an ideal situation. Ideally people should want girls because they are equal, not for the economic benefits. But at least it is happening.

  6. Amrit — on 15th August, 2009 at 1:52 pm  

    The terms are interchangable, but I prefer to use to former when talking about abortion when it is gendered.

    Um, no they’re not. They’re ‘interchangeable’ in the minds of anti-choicers, maybe.

    To answer your Q Trofim – in this instance, the term ‘female foeticide’ is used because well, a) ‘female abortion’ sounds weird – like females aborting themselves! and b) this is not ‘regular’ abortion, it’s the deliberate killing of female foetuses for being female.

    Halima – that suicide statistic is appalling. I agree with Shatterface, but not much will change until people get more educated.

  7. Rumbold — on 15th August, 2009 at 3:58 pm  

    The medical definition of feticide is the destruction of a foetus.

  8. Rumbold — on 15th August, 2009 at 4:07 pm  

    To clarify, I meant that the terms were technically interchangable. For me, feticide is useful because it describes the targeting of female foetuses.

  9. john Barnes — on 16th August, 2009 at 10:43 pm  

    “it’s the deliberate killing of female foetuses for being female.”

    So what? How this any different to having an abortion because of a defect foetus? I’m not sure why this is an issue.

  10. Dalbir — on 16th August, 2009 at 10:54 pm  

    Why are some westerners perfectly fine with indiscriminate abortions within their own society whilst at the same time being concerned about females being aborted in the east?

    Is it not hypocritical bullshit?

  11. Shatterface — on 17th August, 2009 at 9:45 am  

    ‘Why are some westerners perfectly fine with indiscriminate abortions within their own society whilst at the same time being concerned about females being aborted in the east?’

    Because aborting foetuses simply bacause they are FEMALE is a sign of a deeply misogynistic culture, just as aborting a foetus because it might be genetically predisposed to being gay would be homophobic, or aborting a child because it is of mixed race would be racist.

  12. Dalbir — on 17th August, 2009 at 10:00 am  

    But aborting a foetus because it is the inconvenient by product of a shag as happens in the UK is okay then?

    I’m not condoning the nonsense that goes on in say China or India but even then, the generally flippant attitudes towards abortions in the UK are not a good thing either.

  13. Hantsboy — on 17th August, 2009 at 2:56 pm  

    I’m not condoning the nonsense that goes on in say China or India but even then, the generally flippant attitudes towards abortions in the UK are not a good thing

    I have to say I agree Dalbir.

    Just try explaining this to Western Feminists.

    Such people are immune to logic.

  14. Beijing Hotels Reservation — on 21st December, 2009 at 9:13 pm  

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