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The practice was most prevalent in China and other parts of Asia, but new reports have seen an increase in the abortion of female foetuses in the Caucasus region. Not only do the new studies explore why this increase has taken place, worryingly, they predict that the practice will spread.
By the laws of nature, 105 boys are born for every 100 girls. However, given the increased vulnerability of infant boys to diseases, the numbers roughly even out so that the genders become more or less equal by the time they reach adolescence. But studies in Armenia and Azerbaijan have found more than 115 boys are born for every 100 girls and this rises to a ratio of 120 boys in Georgia. When considering the number of children born into the family, the figures become increasingly distorted. In Azerbaijan, among first-born children, there are 138 boys for every 100 girls. If a girl is born first, the likelihood of then having a boy rockets to 61%. These figures show clear boy-preference and have seen a sharp rise since 1991, coinciding with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The authors give two factors that could well have contributed to a steady increase in abortion of female foetuses. Firstly, they state that all three countries included in the research are currently involved in “frozen conflicts”, which could ultimately impact upon female bargaining power for family planning and result in son-preference. The second factor is the wide-spread availability of ultrasound technology, which was rarely accessible under Soviet rule.
It seems that a return to patriarchal values is full force in the Caucasus region, especially in Armenia and Azerbaijan. However, Female Report! hopes that the “large pent-up demand for sex-selection” is rapidly prevented from escalating or spreading.