Mon, May 16, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Abortions skewing gender ratio

IMBALANCE:Taiwan’s gender imbalance trails only South Korea and China in East Asia because of the cultural emphasis on having boys, who can carry the family name

By Vincent Y. Chao and Shelley Huang  /  Staff Reporters

To address the problem of medical institutions that illegally and unethically “guarantee boys” to parents who do not want a female baby, the department said it had formed a task force involving various bureaus to control the situation and investigate medical institutions with suspicious male-to-female infant ratios.

Bureau of Health statistics show the sex ratio imbalance has been a long-running problem in Taiwan, remaining consistently at almost 11 males for every 10 females for most of the past decade, even as polls show only a small number of Taiwanese prefer boys over girls.

In 2009, the sex ratio at birth dipped to 108.5 to 100, with males outnumbering females 100,155 to 92,310, the lowest in recent record, although it shot back up to 110.12 to 100 in the first half of last year, a development that experts have watched with some concern.

The information comes despite a poll conducted by the department earlier this year that suggested that the vast majority of people do not prefer boys over girls and support government regulation over the issue.

About 91 percent of those surveyed said that they supported a government policy imposing fines on sex selection. However, more than one in four of those surveyed said that they would also insist on eventually having a boy, suggesting that there were still significant numbers that favored males.

Taiwan’s sex ratio imbalance is one of the highest in East Asia, behind only South Korea and China, UN data showed. The Bureau of Health banned sex selection in 2000 and last year announced that it would be stepping up fines and checks for alleged hospital assisted cases.

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