01 Aug Speaking for Those Who Can’t
From the Desk of Carol Soelberg:
“’It’s a girl’ The three deadliest words in the world” was the title of an article that attracted my attention this week on WorldFamilyNews.com
Maybe it is because I have nine beautiful daughters myself that is was so devastating for me to read further that 200 MILLION girls are missing in the world today because they simply aren’t valued by some of the world’s cultures. Because they are girls, they are aborted, or killed at birth, or left somewhere to die.
Sex selective abortion is an atrocity that should scream at every heart that women’s “rights” are yet insecure! Every woman should have the right to live. This year at the Commission on the Status of Women, United Families International conducted a parallel event in which one of our young family advocates, Jenny Cooper, gave a particularly impactful presentation on the prevalence of sex selective abortion and the devastating affect it is having in countries where it is practiced.
We share that presentation with you today along with an encouragement to read the article that is linked on World Family News. Knowing the threats, this time particularly against women, better equips us to protect and preserve the family. Thank you for your continued support.
President, United Families International
I Speak For Those Who Can’t
Today I wish to defend those who cannot speak; those girls who would have grown to be women; those who would have had voices, but never will. I am referring to all the females whose lives have been taken simply because they are girls. I am here to speak about female sex selective abortion.
Each year during the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, we celebrate International Women’s Day, a day set aside to honor females of all ages: newborns, young children, teenagers and adults. It is a time to remember all of the struggles and inequalities endured, as well as the great accomplishments achieved by women. But with the triumph of so many rights for women comes the degrading act of females harming other females through sex selective abortion.
This action does not signify progress nor does it protect women and girls. While it is a great privilege for me to be here at the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women to discuss ending all forms of violence and abuse towards women and girls, I find great despair knowing that sex selective abortion is happening all over the world.
Female “infanticide” has existed for centuries, but the problem became especially acute when ultrasound techniques for identifying the sex of an unborn child merged with readily-available and widely-accepted abortion. Prior to the widespread availability and use of ultrasound and abortion, approximately three to five percent of females were killed, depending on the country. Now, however, somewhere between 35 to 45 percent of all females are being terminated.
It is clear that when you combine ultrasound technology and readily-available and widely-accepted abortion with population control programs and attitudes, you have created the perfect storm for ending the lives of millions of unborn girls.
What’s Happening Today?
160 million females are “missing” because of sex selective abortion; their lives have been claimed and cut short merely because they were girls. This alarming number is equivalent to annihilating all of the females living in the United States alone! (US Census of 2010)
China’s one-child policy has greatly increased the disparity between the number of male and female births. Over the last three decades that it has been in place, the ratios between male and female births has steadily increased. In 1979 – the year the policy was initiated – there were 106 boys born for every 100 girls – not far from the “natural” sex ratio of 105 boys born for every 100 girls. Currently, the sex ratio in China is 117 boys born for every 100 girls. In some areas of the country, it has risen to as high as 140 boys being born for every 100 girls.
While Asian populations have a substantially higher number of those participating in the killing of their unborn daughters, sex selective abortion happens in the Western cultures, as well.
This graph depicts a small portion of the many countries that have significant sex ratio imbalances. With China at the highest sex ratio, it is closely followed by the Countries of Georgia and Armenia, whose sex ratio is 115 males born for every 100 females. Following these Countries are India, South Korea and Albania with 110 or more males boys born for every 100 girls. While Portugal, Singapore, Switzerland, and Ireland are closer to the “natural” sex ratio, their imbalance of males to females under the age of 15 is still high enough to take note of.
Development of nations does not seem to be the answer to solving discrimination against females via sex selective abortion. In fact in many cultures, it is the more wealthy, higher-educated women that are the most likely to abort their daughters through sex selective abortion.
Some have no problem with sex selective abortion. After all, abortion, some say, is a “right.” But the negative implications and consequences of sex selective abortion are numerous:
The unborn girl is the first and greatest victim of sex selective abortion. Some may oppose this by saying that an unborn fetus has no “human status.” But when the motivation behind an abortion is to eliminate a fetus for the sole reason of that fetus having a gender – that of a female – the foundation of this argument becomes insubstantial. As former abortion doctor Bernard N. Nathanson, M.D., shared, “[…] abortion must be seen as the interruption of a process which would otherwise have produced a citizen of the world.” (New England Journal of Medicine, 1974)
Sex selective abortion also raises this question: What happens when millions of men cannot find women to marry? Some 24 million Chinese men of marrying age will find themselves lacking wives in 2020; “bare branches:” this is how the Chinese refer to Chinese males who will never have families because they cannot find spouses. It is an apt metaphor: “bare branches” – unmarried men who will have nothing attached to them. There will be no wife, no children. Researchers offer some insight into:
Common Characteristics of “Bare Branches”
- Belong predominantly to the lowest socioeconomic class
• More likely to be underemployed or unemployed
• Transient with few ties to the community
• Transient males that commit proportionately more violence than non-transient males
• Live and socialize with other “bare branches”, creating distinctive bachelor subcultures
• Commit more violence – often under the influence of alcohol and certain drugs
• Predisposed to risk taking
(Valerie M. Hudson and Andrea M. den Boer, 2004 “Bare Branches”)
Think about that list and ponder the impact that 24 million men with these characteristics might have on a society – on your society. Some experts go so far as to argue that such a sex ratio imbalance in a population has regional and global security implications.
Studies have also been conducted to examine the behaviors of men when gender imbalance exists. Such studies have shown that there is a statistically significant increase of mental illness, socially disruptive behavior, lower self-esteem, depression, and suicidal thoughts compared to men who are married. (Beyond Buoying the Boys)
Along with the decrease of women comes an increase in demand for trafficked brides and an increase in prostitution. Contrary to what one may assume, being part of a female minority population does not make you a respected and adored prize, but a commodity to be exploited. As boldly and truthfully put by Reggie Littlejohn, “Women [, both born and unborn,] should not be treated this way. This is not a political issue. Women’s rights are human rights.”
Fewer women mean fewer children being born. Some may view population reduction as a positive thing, but in many countries, declining population poses significant problems. Whatever your viewpoint, thinning a population by eliminating girls simply because they are girls is sex discrimination and gender-based violence at its worst. It should not be tolerated – no matter the goal.
We, as women, have persevered in fighting for our rights, but I do not believe we have fought enough. We have seen great success in bringing ourselves great rights, opportunities, and promising futures, but have we done enough to give that to others? If feminism holds the belief that women should have a right to speak, vote, hold jobs, and make choices for themselves, should it not also include the belief that women should be given a chance at life?
Sex selective abortion is “[…waging] war against the most defenseless of human beings” – against women and girls – that must be stopped.” (Nathanson, M.D., “The Hand of God”)
Jenny Cooper recently graduated with a degree in Marriage and Family Studies from Brigham Young University – Idaho. Since her graduation, she has been actively involved with numerous pro-family organizations, planning committees, and events in her community. Her plans for the future include attending graduate school and continually increasing her knowledge of and experience with families, children, social policy and advocacy.