Sexist values

How Armenia is beginning to curb the rise in illegal sex-selective abortions

A picture taken on December 28, 2016 shows Garik Hayrapetyan, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Armenia's assistant representive, speaking during an interview with AFP in Yerevan.(KAREN MINASYAN/AFP/Getty Images)

In Armenia, a strong preference for having sons has led to a spike in sex-selective abortions and a disparity in the boy-girl birth ration. In 2013, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reported that 114 boys were being born for every 100 girls (a normal ratio would be 104 to 106 boys for 100 girls), which would result in some 93,000 “missing girls” by 2060 if nothing changed. A new law passed in 2016 made sex-selective abortions illegal, but also requires women who seek an abortion to attend a counseling session and wait for a three-day “reflection period,” which has been highly controversial.

Women’s rights organizations point out that restrictions to abortion access might lead to women — and particularly women from rural areas or poor backgrounds, who can’t afford more than one visit — to seek highly dangerous “backstreet” procedures. That’s why a campaign called “Combating Gender-Based Sex Selection in Armenia” has been trying to address the underlying problem: Tackling the negative gender stereotypes that lead to these kind of abortions in the first place. Through public awareness campaigns, TV spots and town hall meetings they are asking parents to focus on the similarities between boys and girls, not the differences. The project has been a great success — in 2016, the birth ratio of boys to girls dropped to 112 boys per 100 girls. But activists warn that much remains to be done. “We need more work in overcoming the inequality between the values [placed on] girl and boy children. This would be key to defeating this bitter practice,” says Garik Hayrapetyan of UNFPA. “We still have a long way to go, but we are definitely on the right track.”

Read the full story at The Huffington Post.


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