A 2020 World Population report released by the pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that there are nearly 1.2 million baby girls aborted each year due to gender selection. Titled, “Against My Will: Defying the Practices That Harm Women and Girls and Undermine Equality,” the report highlights common human rights injustices against women, including gender mutilation, forced child marriages, and sex-selective abortion.
It seems contradictory for the UNFPA to highlight such injustices; after all, the organization has long been linked to forced abortion and sterilization perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party against the citizens of China. In 2017, the Trump administration halted U.S. funding for the UNFPA for this reason.
Sex-selective abortion is most prevalent in China and India, but these aren’t the only two countries that have a dire gender imbalance. The UNFPA’s report was released on July 17 in Hanoi, Vietnam, a country that battles gender bias within its own borders. The UNFPA estimates that 40,800 females are aborted annually in the country, a number that has continued to increase since the issue was first brought to attention in 2004. While worldwide births average 106 males for every 100 females, a 2019 Vietnamese census report showed a startling average of 111.5 male births to 100 female births within the country.
Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA representative in Vietnam, made an appeal for the end of gender selection in the country during a launch ceremony. “When men far outnumber women, social problems can emerge, exacerbating forms of gender-based violence, including rape, coerced sex, sexual exploitation, trafficking and child marriage,” she said. “What these diverse harmful practices all have in common is that they are rooted in gender inequality and a desire to control women’s bodies and lives. Though they inflict a devastating array of harms on individual women and girls, the harms inflicted on the world at large, and on future generations, may be greater still.”
Pham Ngoc Tien, director of the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs’ Gender Equality Department, spoke of the initiative within the country to fight the gender bias:
Vietnam has always considered gender equality as both a goal and a driving force for sustainable development. We have built and continued to improve the legal framework to better work in this important and relatively unfamiliar area. However, gender equality remains persistent in the society due to the influence of Confucianism.
Imbalanced sex ratio at birth is deeply rooted in the social norms and practices which reinforce son preference and low value for women and girls. Making this ratio balanced is also one of the goals of the National Strategy on Gender Equality for the 2021 – 2030 period that we are developing to submit to the Prime Minister for approval in 2020.
As the report shows, sex-selective abortion can have devastating effects on a country at large. Vietnam’s commitment to fight the gender bias that results in so many abortions is a step in the right direction.
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