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SEX SELECTIVE ABORTIONS IN ARMENIA

Anushik Avetyan

 The latter is certified by the research “The gender disproportion of new-born babies in Armenia. Demographic data and analysis” held by UNO’s Population Fund from June of 2012 to January of 2013.

 

38-years-old Nona Harutyunyan strongly regrets about  termination of her 13 weeks pregnancy.The decision was made together with her husband, when they learnt that the foetus was female. “I have 2 daughters, we wanted to have a son. Then I got pregnant again, but the foetus died in the 2ndmonth”, Harutyunyan, who is a teacher,mentions regrettably (at her request the name is changed). “Now I can't deliver a child any longer, for both I am old, and my  daughters are already students. It's shameful!”

Gender-based pregnancy termination is a widespread phenomenon in Armenia, as much significance is  given to having a boy child in a family. Research statistics  of  “Prevalence of and reasons for sex-selective abortions in Armenia” shows, that 1400 abortions are done per year only because the foetus is female. And this index tends to increase.

“We noticed the problem in 2005-2006,  based on the  annual reports of National Statistical Service, when  the skewed sex ratio per birth was determined: significant  disproportion of new-born boys and girls was registered.

But it was incomprehensible, where this difference came from”, says the executive representative of the UNO Population Fund in  Armenia Garik Hayrapetyan.

According to him it was hard to believe, but the investigations confirmed the suppositions, that there is actually a high index of gender-based abortions in Armenia. Hayrapetyan points, that in Armenia for every 100 girls and 114 boys are born. This is a rather high index. While in case of natural ratio for every 100 girls should be 102-106 boys. Based on UNFPA's research, for comparison it should be mentioned that Armenia is the 3rd in the world after China and Azerbaijan with  the number of gender-based abortions. Other countries such as Georgia(113.6), Albania(111.7) occupy the 4th and  5th positions respectively. In the research is mentioned, that the experience of similar countries  shows, that this phenomenon can result in painful  consequences, including the increase of criminality, men’s emigration, women’s rape.

Ethnographer  Mkhitar Gabrielyan expresses the following viewpoint on the problem. He mentions that the problem is the result of the situation, present in Armenia during the last 20 years: “Today the vast majority of RA citizens is not protected anyhow,  doesn't have means of keeping children, doesn't have a potential of long-term planning. It is natural, that this facts can affect person’s behavior”.

The ethnographer’s  approaches confirmed by the UNO's investigations, according to which the new-borns' gender ratio got broken especially since 1991, when social conditions of life sharply descended. The presence of 1 baby boy in a family is quite enough for  the reproductive intentions being considered fulfilled.  The ethnographer relates the reasons of the problem to today's  intellectual crisis in Armenia. According to him the perceptions in the cultural sphere continue to reproduce the approaches, that in a family there should necessarily be a baby boy, and if there is a problem  of having one or maximum  2 children, then preference is given to having a boy than a girl. “After all, the desire of having a baby boy is perhaps the desire of satisfying own masculine dignity in today's perceptions as well.”, adds Gabrielyan. Hayrapetyan suggests 3 factors which condition the  gender-based termination of pregnancy: 1) the society is patriarchal,  boy children are preferred to girls, 2) there are necessary medical equipments which allow to learn beforehand the child's sex and avoid unwanted girls, 3) couples prefer to have few children.

 “In the documents of the State policy the government declared that the country is in a demographic crisis, the average birth fertility has decreased over the years and  it stands as low as 1.4-1.5. Government established new project for encouraging families to have 3rd child. But in this case the government's task should be the encouraging of the 2nd child's birth, but in Armenia an incentive is given to starting from the 3rd child”, - continues Gabrielyan.

In Armenia in case of having the 1st and the 2nd child the “lump-sum  child birth benefit” comprises 50.000 AMD/122 USD, in case of the 3rd child- 430.000 AMD/1056 USD , and in case of 4 and more children- 1milion AMD/2457 USD . “Today one delivers only one child, and not the 2nd any longer. Find money and  invest, then find out whether will born or not. Mind, whether in that case the number of abortions will reduce or not. I am sure, that it will reduce. And the gender already in the case of the 2nd child won’t be essential. Main acts of pregnancy termination will shift from the 2nd child to the 3rdone”, summarizes the ethnographer.

 

According to the data of International Health Organization in the world 70,000 women die annually because of the consequences of abortions, and every 5th  woman acquires problems for getting pregnant in the future.