What is gendercide?
Gendercide is a sex-neutral term, which refers to the deliberate killing of people belonging to one sex, by reason of their sex.
Recent estimates of the sex ratio show an increase in the number of ‘missing’ women from the world’s population to approximately 200 million. This constitutes an extreme increase since 1990 when the number was 100 million. Girls are still ruthlessly discriminated against, as regards pre-determining the baby’s gender, aborting, abandoning or the killing of baby girls for no other reason than of their sex.
Sex selection can take place before a pregnancy is established, during pregnancy through prenatal sex detection and selective abortion, or following birth through infanticide or child neglect. Sex selection is sometimes used for family balancing purposes, but it occurs far more as a systematic preference for boys, because in some cultural traditions daughters are considered to be a burden.
Gendercide is a global issue, not only confined to Asia and Europe, but also observed in North America, Africa and Latin America. Countries, in which these practices occur, often tend to have higher ratios of males to females at birth, than the biologically normal rate of 106 males to 102 females. In China, for example, 113 boys were born for every 100 girls in 2011, whereas the figures were 112 boys to 100 girls, in India.
It is however important to remain cautious about the number of abortions and sex-selective practices before birth, as sex ratio at birth can be affected by a number of other factors. Female births may remain unregistered, and girls who are killed shortly after birth or given away for adoption, may also remain unaccounted for. Although the term ‘SRB’ is being used, in most countries reliable birth registration data is not available, and therefore the childhood sex ratio (0-4 or 0-6 years) is used as a proxy. This ratio may also be affected by selective under-counting of girls in census enumerations and by discriminatory feeding and health care practices that cause an increase in post-natal mortality of girls.
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