There is an ongoing debate, in China and elsewhere, about sex-selective abortion, its justification and its consequences. Sex-selective abortion is the practice of ending pregnancy contingent on the revealing of the sex of the fetus, as parents have strong preferences of what kind of kid they want to have – more often it is a son-rather-than-daughter preference. So when parents who have a son-preference find out that the fetus is female, they simply decide to abort it and have another try to conceive a male one.
I mentioned China, as it is the seriously affected by this phenomenon. Patriarchal cultural norms [including the belief that boys take better care of aging parents than girls do], have cemented the view that having a boy is much better than having a girl. After the government has introduced the one-child family planning policy in 1978 [obliging the majority of Chinese citizens to having only one kid, imposing various penalties on those who breach it, in order to alleviate overpopulation], for many parents-to-be, having a boy has become an even bigger priority than ever before – they now had one chance to secure their posterity, and it better not be a girl. The advancement of medical technology and its accessibility, and the possibility to find out the sex of the fetus in the early stage of pregnancy has facilitated the trend of sex-selective abortion – many women decided to have abortion after finding out that they were carrying a female fetus. In addition, mothers who couldn’t afford abortion, after giving birth to girls, abandoned them or even attempted infanticide [see this particular episode of House MD on that matter / sorry for the spoiler]. Yet, sex-selective abortion is a tendency merely across the whole developing world. Another significant case is India, for instance. In other countries, especially in the Arab world, a more common practice is infanticide.
The major consequence of sex-selective abortions and infanticide is of course, gender imbalance:
The main sufferers of the negative consequences of these trend are – men; yet they impose a threat for societies at large. The gender issues for the so called “surplus” men might have a strong impact on society:
Another trend [or perception?] makes life even harder for “surplus men” in China and Asia in general, is the alleged preference of Asian women for foreign men [I couldn’t find anything scientifically relevant on the topic, only entries at two mushy blogs that cover “youth” topics – 1 and 2 – plenty of material can be found on YouTube, too]. Yet, I assume that it is the growing number of single Asian men due to the gender imbalance, rather than the preferences of Asian women, that is the key for constructing this image.
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The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The strong preference for male children has doomed the lives of a generation of “sons.”
Frustrations pile up and call for motion. Chinese authorities have done whatever it takes to prevent sex-selective abortion, and have launched a campaign against illegal sex-selective abortion clinics; moreover they have recognized the need to loosen the one-child policy [which also is a factor of the rapid greying of the Chinese] and that “economic and social status of rural families raising girls should be enhanced” [Xinhua].
And while these measures will initiate a long term change, a taboo question is what can be done to alleviate the present condensation of testosterone? Maybe importing brides from areas with surplus of women? Or promoting polyandry? Commercialization of prostitution? Mainstreaming non-heterosexual lifestyles? Governments need to embrace a radical, value-changing approach, for the current situation calls for that.