Sat, Jun 02, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Couple's case highlights lingering chauvinism

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

There's no such thing as "an unworthy belly," said gynecologists in response to the case of a Taichung-area couple who broke the law in their desperation to have a son.

After giving birth to eight daughters, a Taichung-area woman named Hsieh Pai-hui (謝百惠) was reported yesterday by the Chinese-language Apple Daily to have helped her husband Chu Teng-lu (朱登陸) arrange a fake marriage with a Cambodian woman so that she could bear him a son.

Hsieh told her tale to the police after the Cambodian woman duly gave birth to a boy, but then refused to go back to Cambodia as planned, the paper reported.

The case is an unfortunate reminder that chauvinism is not dead, said Tsai Feng-po (蔡鋒博), superintendent of the Dr. Tsai & Dr. Chen's Women Hospital, yesterday.

"The sex of the baby is determined not by the mother but by chance, depending on whether the sperm fertilizing the egg carries an X or Y chromosome. Yet women are almost always the ones who are blamed for not producing a son," Tsai said.

"The only way [a couple can control the sex of their child] is through sperm screening, which is illegal in this country," he said.

Whether or not a woman gives birth to a son can affect her status in some families, Tsai added.

"Sometimes [the discrimination] is subtle, such as being offered more meat at the table. Other times the woman might be told outright by her mother in law that she has an `unworthy belly,'" he said.

One female patient was so upset by the news that she was giving birth to a daughter that she began to cry, Tsai said.

When asked why she wasn't happy that she had managed to conceive via In-vitro fertilization, the woman told Tsai that "having a daughter is a losing proposition."

Although attitudes towards women are changing, Tsai said, many still believe that it is essential to have a son to continue the family line.

"The attitude is likely to be stronger in less-educated households," Tsai said.

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