Thursday, July 14, 2011

165,000,000: Choosing Boys Over Girls and the Repercussions on Society

What is the 165,000,000?  That is what we learn in the new non-fiction book Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men by Mara Hvistendahl.   The number is the number of female fetuses aborted in Asia  due to sex selection.  That's more than the current female population in the US.  Now hold your horses.  This isn't a blog on the word  that begins with "A".  I don't go there.  It's like trying to win an argument about who should be the US president.  But, what I did find interesting in this book is that there is a whole heck of a lot going on out there that needs to be known.  Let me see if I can give the book its due justice. The author, Ms Hvistendahl, is pro choice.  What she is interested in and concerned about is...the future of girls in the world.  What I know:  Because of China's overpopulation, they had instituted a 1 child per family policy, that the Chinese family prefers to have sons, that India is overpopulated, that women in Indian society, because of a lack of dowry paid in full,  have often been killed and that the US upholds Roe V Wade. What I didn't know was the extend to which sex selection abortions occurred and I didn't know the involvement of the Western world in causing this phenomena.  Read more...11467568

Let's start at the beginning.  If there is no human involvement in the sex selection of a child, for every 100 girl babies born there are 105 boy babies born.  Simple.  Nature knows that boys are more likely to be aggressive, involved in more dangerous activities (and die) and, therefore, prepares for it by having more births of boys.  But then comes into influence the nature of society and customs which, in many parts of the world,  prefers boys to girls.  The author primarily focuses on Asia, India, and the Caucasus because that is where the majority of sex selection abortions take place.  And why is that?  Well, as I stated before, they prefer boys.  Why?  Because in many of these cultures the boy is the one that inherits the land, the boy is the one that sweeps the graves of the grandparents, and in India, a dowry is required to marry off a girl.  I'm simplifying here but the author heavily annotates her suppositions.  Sex selection, in rural India, began with infanticide.  Once the baby was born, and it was found to be a girl, the baby was killed.  But something happened in the 50's, 60's and 70's.  It was the advent of technology to help identify the sex of the baby before the baby was born,  first amniocentesis, then ultrasound and then pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).  The ultrasound was developed from sonar used in WWII.  GE(General Electric) was the creator of the ultrasound and eventually made one that was portable.  "They introduced a low end ultrasound machine that could be hooked up to a PC- at 1/6th the cost.  The compact machine, in chairman of GE Immelt's words, was a hit in rural clinics." Let me state that the original purpose of all of these technologies was to find birth defects or diseases in the fetus. But because of other "influences" these technologies began to be used for other purposes.  In the 50's, 60's and 70's,  the West was in the throes of the cold stop communism in its tracks.  The thinking was that if a country was overpopulated and poor, they were a prime candidate for communism.  So, what to do?  Help those developing countries keep down their populations which would lead to economic growth which would stem communism, "lower birth rates lead to richer people".   Then steps in all kinds of organizations from the Ford Foundation to the Rockerfeller Foundation to the World Health Organization to the International Planned Parenthood all to help these countries stem the tide of births.   Millions of dollars are spread around to promote birth control and, yes,  sex selection abortions.  In India, ads began to run " better 500 rupees now than 5000 rupees later",   referring to the price of a sex test as opposed to the cost of a dowry.

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