April 16, 2010


The killing of baby girls

Gendercide: What happened to 100 million baby girls?”

That’s the headline that leaped out from the front cover of The Economist a few weeks ago—the March 6th-12th issue.

Inside the magazine was an in-depth report on what it called “the worldwide war on baby girls.” It credited the title of a 1985 book by Mary Anne Warren for the term “gendercide.”

Technology, declining fertility in women, and the preference for boys in many cultures have combined to cause an imbalance in societies that could have long-range, and disastrous, effects.

The technology is mainly ultrasound scans of pregnant women. Since their development, they have been used widely to detect any problems in a pregnancy. This has proven to be both good and bad. It allows doctors to sometimes correct problems, but also has led to decisions to abort a fetus with developmental problems.

Ultrasound scans have been credited in this country with preventing abortions because the image a pregnant woman sees is clearly that of a baby, not just a mass of tissue. Once the woman sees that baby growing inside her, she is much less apt to choose to abort her child.

However, ultrasound scans also reveal the baby’s sex. In other countries and cultures, where boys are preferred, the scans have increased the number of abortions because girl babies are killed.

The article in The Economist reports that that is what has happened to 100 million baby girls. But that was the estimate made by Indian economist Amartya Sen in 1990, 20 years ago. The number is much larger today. This is nothing less than mass murder.

In one hospital in Punjab, India, the only girls born after a round of ultrasound scans had been mistakenly identified as boys.

As for the declining fertility in women, that may be really somewhat of a misnomer. Women’s actual fertility—the ability to have children—hasn’t declined, but contraception has made it possible to prevent conception. Hence, the number of children that women are having is declining worldwide. If a couple wants only one or two children, and if there is a preference for boys, they often abort a daughter in order to try for a son.

In some places, notably China with its government decreed one-child policy, 120 boys are being born for every 100 girls. In some provinces, the ratio is 130 boys for every 100 girls.

According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, by 2020 one in five young men will be unable to find a bride because of the dearth of young women. By then, China will have

30-40 million more men age 19 and below than young women—equal to the entire young male population of America.

However, it’s not just China. The Asian countries of India, Taiwan and Singapore are experiencing similar, but smaller, figures. Indeed, The Economist says, “Gendercide exists on almost every continent. It affects rich and poor; educated and illiterate; Hindu, Muslim, Confucian and Christian alike.”

Isn’t it a wonder that women aren’t up in arms about this situation? Militant feminists have preached for years that men are unnecessary since women can do anything that men can do and, because of in vitro fertilization, men are even only indirectly required for reproduction.

But that, of course, is in the most developed countries, such as the United States and other Western countries. Girls have much greater advantages in the United States today than they ever did in the past, especially when it comes to education. In many universities today, women outnumber men and go on to fulfilling careers. There is still a discrepancy in salaries, but that, too, is changing.

Indeed, in some cultures in America, women are having difficulty finding husbands as well educated as they are or with jobs equivalent to theirs.

But that is in the United States. There are still societies where males are needed to help their parents on farms, and to care for them in their old age, while daughters move to their husbands’ families after marriage. As a Hindu saying puts it, “Raising a daughter is like watering your neighbors’ garden.” However, even in wealthier parts of the world, there is still a preference for boys.

That is what is happening when humans try to play God.

—John F. Fink

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