People Raise Alarm as Abortions of Girls Skew Population

Garik Hayrapetyan, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Armenia’s assistant representative, speaking during an interview with AFP in Yerevan (Photo: AFP/Karen Minasyan)
Garik Hayrapetyan, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Armenia’s assistant representative, speaking during an interview with AFP in Yerevan (Photo: AFP/Karen Minasyan)

Garik Hayrapetyan, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Armenia’s assistant representative, speaking during an interview with AFP in Yerevan (Photo: AFP/Karen Minasyan)

“By 2060, some 100,000 potential mothers will not have been born in Armenia. We will become a society of single men.”

BY MARIAM HARUTYUNYAN

Ani Kirakosyan says she is afraid of getting pregnant because if the ultrasound shows the fetus is a girl she will have to consider having 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,” said Kirakosyan, a 27-year-old resident of the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

“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.”

The majority-Christian Caucasus country of some three million 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 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has reported that there were 114 boys born to 100 girls in 2012. The natural norm would be 102-106 male births to 100 female ones.

Sex-discriminatory abortions become more prevalent with second and subsequent children, and account for around 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,” warned Garik Hayrapetyan, UNFPA Armenia’s assistant representative.

“By 2060, some 100,000 potential mothers will not have been born in Armenia. We will become a society of single men.”

Armenia trails only China, which ended its one-child limit a year ago, and its Caucasus neighbor, majority-Muslim Azerbaijan, where 53 percent of newborn children were boys in the first quarter of 2016, 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 Nagorno-Karabakh region, suggesting it has promoted a sense of insecurity and a desire for male defenders.

The UNFPA 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.

‘More backstreet 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 mid-2016, 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.

But 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 and unsafe 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 Centre said.

“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.”

The UNFPA’s 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.

This article was originally published by Agence France-Presse on January 10, 2017

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6 Comments

  1. Arman said:

    These abortions make England’s Henry the Eigth look like a choir boy. As if Turks didn’t slash the population of Armenians enough, now, Armenians are killing their own future. I’m sorry but people in today’s Eastern Armenia who think that unborn girls are unworthy of life are animals.
    The Nazis viewed the populations they intended to liquidate as “lives unworthy of life.” The first thing Hitler’s regime did in the 1930s, before they started the war, was to sterilize their own German population that they deemed “unworthy of reproduction,” and thus nearly a million Germans were sterilized. Are these Eastern Armenian peasants even remotely aware that they are doing the same Nazi slaughter? That their unborn girls are “lives unworthy of life?”
    It is my hope, that after the Holocaust, no Jew in their right mind would do such careless and “casual” abortions. One would think that peoples who have been genocided would do anything to recover their population to pre-slaughter levels, from Poland to Cambodia, and everywhere in-between. What are these Armenians thinking? How stupid are these people?? As if enough people didn’t die in the 1988 earthquake (over 25,000)…. as if enough didn’t die in the Karabakh war (over 10,000)…. And now in peacetime, tens of thousands of unborn baby girls are being aborted?? Not one more girl’s life should be aborted!

  2. Arman said:

    Since when is there a “culture of death” in Armenia regarding the unborn? Look at Israel, where society is focused on a “culture of life,” precisely because it is surrounded by enemies that want to exterminate it. The mother is the center of the family. But if Jews start aborting their own future mothers, Arabs would thank Allah and smile ear to ear for this “good news.”

  3. Lorenz Yacoubian said:

    The irony of it all being that MEN are solely responsible in determining the gender of the child. The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.

  4. David Dilanchian said:

    PAREV IM SHAD SIRELI HAYRENAKITZNERR, I AM IN FRONT OF RECEIVING SOME OF THOSE WONDERFULL ARMENIAN NEW BORN DAUGHTERS. I LOVE ARMENIAN SONS AND PERSONALLY ARMENIAN DAUGHTERS HAVE A VALUED POSITION IN ARMENIAN FAMILIES. I WOULD LIKE TO HERE AND NOW BE IN FRONT OF THE QUE TO RECEIVE SOME OF THOES VALUED ARMENIAN GIRLS. I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO HEAR MORE OF THOSE WONDERFULL ARMENIAN GIRLS. I HAVE BARLY READ LESS THAN TWO LINES O F THIS ARTICLE I AM WILLING AND ABLE TO HEAR MORE OF THIS ARTICLE. ARE YOU TRYING TO TELL. ME ARMENIAN GIRLS ARE LESS IMPORTANT LESS ABLE THAN Boys? I HOPE MY NAME IS ON TOP OF THE LIST, FURTHERMORE I WILL READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE, AS I SAID I HAVE BARELY READ ONE AND HALF (1&1.5) LINES OF THE ARTICAL

  5. David Dilanchian said:

    I HOPE TO MEET ANUSH POGHOSYAN AND SOME OF THOSE MOTHERS WHOM I CONSIDER VERY FORTUNATE TO HAVE ONE OR MORE OF THOSE DAUGHTERS. I HOPE TO BE IN ARMENIA (HAYRENIK) AT THE END OF MAY FOR THE 10TH TIME.

  6. Palma said:

    This is a sad and disgraceful practice and mindset for a nation with such rich Christian history. When did Armenians lose their God-consciousness?

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