It is assumed that there is a shortage of about 140 million women worldwide related to the preference for male descendants and sex-selective abortion. Since the 1990s, some areas have recorded up to 25% more male births than female births. The increase in gender selection is discriminatory and alarming as it reflects the persistently low status of women and girls. The resulting gender imbalance also has a detrimental effect on societies, increasing sexual violence and human trafficking.
Between 1970 and 2017, 45 million female births were missed due to prenatal sex selection. More than 95% of the missing births were in China or India. As a result of sex-selective abortion, at least 4.7 million fewer women may be born worldwide by 2030 and possibly 22 million fewer by 2100. The United Nations recognizes prenatal sex selection as harmful as child marriage and female genital mutilation.
In India, sons are expected to take care of their ageing parents. Men are also the primary beneficiaries of the inheritance system. Married women, on the other hand, often move in with their in-laws to help them. According to these and other traditions, families give more importance to the birth and upbringing of sons while providing them with more support than daughters. This is a set of attitudes and practices known as “son preference.” You can read about gender-based abortion in Armenia in the latest Outriders report, “The missing daughters of the South Caucasus.”