According to UN statistics, there are 117 million girls missing around the world. Where have they gone? Many of them are left on the sides of roads, drowned, maimed and thrown in trash bins. But even more of them have been aborted.
The reason? They were girls, not boys.
Sex-selective abortion, also colloquially known as “gendercide,” is a huge problem across Asia. A traditional preference for sons, combined with harsh population control measures, has led to the wholesale destruction of little girls. This destruction that has left places like China in demographic turmoil, as young men are beginning to outnumber young women by substantial margins.
With immigration, the problem is also beginning to spread to the United States, as well.
|Country||Country sum of sex selective abortions for years 2000-2014||Yearly average||Daily average||Average sex-ratio at birth from 2000-2014|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||2,683||179||0.5||107|
|Isle of Man||203||14||0.0||110|
The raw numbers (the sex-ratios and number of births) came from the U.S. Census Bureau.
We downloaded our data from the years 2000-2014. We then controlled for life expectancy and calculated the expected natural sex-ratio for each country in each given year.* Using these numbers, we calculated from the number of babies born each year, how many male babies should have been born and how many female babies should have been born.
We then used the actual sex-ratio to determine the number of male and female births in each country in each year.
We then took the difference between the number of girls that should have been borne given the country’s natural sex ratio and the number of girls that were actually born. We use this number as an estimate for how many girls were aborted because of their gender in each country by year.
There is a more in-depth explanation of the method we used in “Sex Selection in China and its Demographic Causes.”
There are naturally more boy births than female births. The natural ratio of boys to girls at birth is 105 boys for every 100 girls born. In other words, 51% of all births result in male babies. This might seem like an insignificant difference, but it matters a lot. There have been 1.9 billion births since the year 2000, and even a tiny percentage of this is a significant number.
Based on this natural ratio, there should have been 47 million more boys than girls born since 2000. Instead, because of sex-selective abortions, there were 71 million more boys than girls born. This means that there were 24 million (the difference between 71 million and 47 million) sex-selective abortions since the year 2000.
We only looked at pre-birth discrimination since the year 2000. There has been pre-birth discrimination for decades before the year 2000 which would add to the 24 million total. The earliest births we studied are just now turning 14 years old.
After birth, women and girls continue to face discrimination. In 1990, a Nobel-prize winning economist named Amartya Sen published a paper entitled “More than 100 Million Women are Missing.” Sen’s paper focused on discrimination after birth and showed how millions of girls died prematurely because of discrimination in nutrition, health-care, and medicine. 24 million is the number of women who are missing due to sex-selection abortion in the past 14 years. The total number of women who are missing from gender discrimination is much higher.
We calculated our numbers from country-wide averages. Lots of other countries have sex-selections that occur within the country, but don’t have it occur frequently enough to affect the average sex-ratio within the country. The United States, for instance, has documented cases of sex-selective abortions, but these cases are not frequent enough to affect the national average ratio of the United States. The countries on the list are countries in which sex-selective abortions occur so frequently that they skew the national average.
Our figure of 24 million only refers to girls who were aborted because of their gender. It does not include abortions of females motivated by economic pressure, a conception from rape, incest, or any other factor other than the infant’s gender.
* The natural sex-ratio at birth is normally around 105 males for every 100 females born. However, certain conditions affect spontaneous miscarriages,and these conditions affect male and female fetuses differently. Maternal ill health during pregnancy causes males fetuses to spontaneously abort more than females. As a result, countries with good health naturally experience higher sex-ratios (about 106:100) whereas countries with poor health naturally experience lower sex-ratios (about 102:100). Klasen and Wink (2002) proposed a model to use a country’s life expectancy as a proxy variable to derive a country’s natural sex-ratio.
Join the domestic and international effort to ban sex-selective abortion in our country and around the world.
Our president, Steve Mosher, testified before the Congressional sub-committee in opposition to Sex-Selective Abortion.
BILL STATUS: Feb. 16, 2012: Committee Consideration and Mark-up Session Held. (View full timeline.)
Our videos, press releases, and writings on the subject have helped inform the public about the seriousness of this problem. (See “Learn More”, below.)
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