Friday, July 8, 2011

Armenia: Are Selective Abortions Behind Birth Ratio Imbalance?

A recent article by looks at the exceptionally high male birth rate in Armenia and poses the question, could this relate to sex selective abortion? 
This suggestion that has been denied by some Armenian experts, who suggest other answers. One says that in countries at war , the number of boys born is higher and is called a "war phenomenon", while another denies there is any intervention and says simply more boys that girls are being born
The article also refers to a Council of Europe PACE report to be debated in October on sex selection in family planning. Clearly this is an issue that will require careful monitoring.
The following is an extract from the article  which may be viewed on this link

Armenia’s high rate of male births is alarming international and Armenian pre-natal specialists. Their chief concern is that selective abortions are contributing to a demographically undesirable gender imbalance.
Government statistics indicate that a gender imbalance in births has existed since the early 1990s, but the trend has become more visible in recent years. The State Statistical Service of Armenia reports that 23,800 boys and 20,900 girls were born in 2010, working out to a rate of about 114 male births for every 100 female births. In 2009, 23,600 boys and 20,700 girls were born, marking approximately the same birth ratio as in 2010.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) puts the worldwide sex ratio at birth at 105-106 males per 100 females. Armenia has an overall population of 2.96 million.
Assessing the birth ratio, the head of the State Statistical Service’s Census and Demography Department warned that Armenia faces “a serious problem.”
“A study must be conducted to find out whether this imbalance is the consequence of selective abortions, or something else,” said Karine Kuyumjian. “[T]he problem is obvious, and it will become even plainer later, when, along with demographic issues, we will face a lack of future mothers.”
Representatives from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) recently reached a similar conclusion. Armenia’s above-average rate of male births indicates “that there must be some sort of pre-natal sex selection,” said Doris Stump, a PACE rapporteur on pre-natal sex selection who travelled to Yerevan in June to assess the problem.
“But there is no knowledge yet about how it is done and what is the responsibility of doctors telling the sex of the child to the parents,” Stump said. “More research has to be done on that question.” A report about the need for member-countries “to fight against the preference for boys” in family planning will be presented to PACE in October, she added.
As elsewhere in the Caucasus (Georgia and Azerbaijan also post high rates of male births, PACE reports), much of the problem may have to do with a heavy cultural emphasis on the value of having sons.
“A good man must have a son,” said sociologist Aharon Adibekian, commenting on Armenian attitudes toward their children’s gender. “If you don’t have a son, who will inherit your belongings, your house and [look after] your family?”