Ani Kirakosyan says she is afraid of getting pregnant, because if the ultrasound shows the fetus is a girl she would have to consider an abortion.
In ex-Soviet Armenia — where families traditionally prefer sons — women are often pressured to have sex-selective abortions to get rid of girl babies.
“Relatives were consoling me when I gave birth to my first daughter, but when my second daughter was born, my mother-in-law told me that there must be no more girls, that I must finally bear my husband a son,” said Kirakosyan, a 27-year-old resident of the Armenian capital, Yerevan.
The Caucasus country of about 3 million people has the third-highest rate of abortions of female fetuses in the world, a figure that rose sharply after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
The UN Population Fund (UNFP) has reported that there were 114 boys born to 100 girls in 2012. The natural norm would be 102-106 male-female births.
Sex-discriminatory abortions become more prevalent with second and subsequent children, and account for about 1,400 unborn girls each year.
“In 10 to 20 years, we will face a shortage of women and — combined with a dramatic decline in fertility rates — that will lead to a serious demographic crisis,” UNFP Armenia assistant representative Garik Hayrapetyan said.
“By 2060, some 100,000 potential mothers will not have been born in Armenia. We will become a society of single men,” he said.
Armenia trails only China, which ended its one-child limit a year ago, and Azerbaijan, where 53 percent of newborn children were boys in the first quarter of last year, according to official figures.
Some analysts have linked the shared trend for sex-
selective abortions in Armenia and Azerbaijan to their violent territorial dispute since 1994 over the Nagorny Karabakh region, suggesting it has promoted a sense of insecurity and a desire for male defenders.
The UNFP attributed Armenia’s sex-discriminatory abortions to “patriarchal structures” and a trend for smaller families, as well as easy access to prenatal scans and abortions.
Abortion is still the primary means of family planning in Armenia, as it was in the Soviet era, and it is available free of charge on the state health service.
In the middle of last year, the Armenian parliament adopted legislation aimed at reversing the female feticide trend.
The new measures include doctors compulsorily questioning women on their motives for wanting an abortion and refusing those driven by gender selection. The legislation also bars terminations after 12 weeks unless there is a risk to a woman’s health, she was raped or is a single mother.
Armenian women’s rights groups have denounced the new legal measures, saying they will not work in a patriarchal society and will only lead to more illegal abortions, endangering women’s health.
“If we forbid abortions, there will be more backstreet abortions and higher female mortality rates,” Anush Poghosyan of the Yerevan-based Women’s Resource Center told reporters.
“We have to address the problem’s origin — that is patriarchal mentality and widespread poverty — and not its consequence,” she said. “If women and men were given equal opportunities, if a woman could be as successful as a man, as influential and as financially independent, no parent would distinguish between having a son or a daughter.”
Hayrapetyan said that recent media discussion of the problem has encouraged debate about the reasons behind cultural norms.
“The paradox in Armenian society is that many people may not want having a daughter before she is born, but once she is here, a daughter is just as loved and cherished as a son,” he said.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference