Four countries urged to act against choosing babies' gender

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Four countries urged to act against choosing babies' gender

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Parents actively selecting their baby’s sex in some countries has raised serious concern in the human rights defence body the Council of Europe.

Prenatal gender selection — as is commonly associated with such countries as China and India — is being studied by the Council. All of its member states are signatories of the European Convention on Human Rights. The body’s parliamentary assembly has asked several countries to investigate.

A Social Affairs Committee member, Jordi Xuclà i Costa, said: “I believe in naming things, talking about the countries where the male to female ratio is clearly distorted — where boys are being favoured. We are talking about Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Albania.”

In nature, the usual gender-ratio for human births is 105 boys to 100 girls. The countries concerned are having more boys — 110 or more — and were called on to act on the causes and reasons.

These include earning power, where boys will grow up to bring more money into a family and where there are deeply-rooted cultural prejudices surrounding women. The preference given to boys, however, weakens societies in the longer run, said the parliamentarian who compiled the Council’s report.

Doris Stump cites proven comparisons in countries where people are already harmed by a gender imbalance: “The negative consequences can be that there are not enough women in the society and there will be a fight for women among men. In China we find that there is a higher violence among men. We also find there is rape taking place more often than we have all over, and there is some trafficking of women also taking place for that reason.”

The Assembly called on all the member states to outlaw sex selection in the context of assisted reproduction technologies and legal abortion. The exception is to avoid a serious hereditary disease known to be linked to gender.

Stump said: “Do we want to treat children like cars? You go and buy a car and say ‘This time I want a red one, next time I want to have a blue car’. With children I think we should be more humble, and accept the sex as it happens by nature.”

Authorities were urged to raise the status of women.