At the beginning of this month, Members of the US Congress, demographers and representatives from human rights organisations got together in Washington DC to “launch an effort to end the gendercide of girls”. The humanitarian organisation All Girls Allowed (its website is here) hosted a film showing and press conference, demographers presented research to Member of Congress showing the link between war and a “male youth bulge” (something we've covered on this blog here), while the economic, trade and currency valuation implications of such a gender imbalance in India and China were discussed.
The point of all of this was to “proclaim one truth that everyone agrees on: Gendercide – the systemic elimination of a particular gender – is wrong.”
I would hope that everyone agrees with that statement, especially when one remembers the worrying facts about China’s and India’s gender imbalances. In China the at-birth gender ratio of boys to girls has increased from 106:100 in 1979 to 120:100 today, largely as a result of the one-child policy. There are now 37 million more men than women in China according to government figures. In India the problem is just as serious as cultural preferences for boys see both the abortion of female foetuses and the neglect and killing of baby girls that were lucky enough to survive the womb.
However, this is not just a problem in the world’s two most populous nations. According to the book Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, by Beijing-based journalist Mara Hvistendahl, this is a problem that extends throughout South and Central Asia and into the Caucuses. Indeed, according to Hvistendahl, by now Asia as a whole is “missing” 163 million females – an immense number.
I would have thought that these numbers, these statistics and the mere fact that parents are killing their children on the basis of that child's sex (due to cultural, financial or governmental pressure) would be horrific enough to not need any further arguments to justify speaking out against it. That is why I thought it was a little sad that Chai Ling, the founder of All Girls Allowed felt that she had to include the following argument to bolster her case:
"It's important for world leaders to see gendercide is not just a women's rights issue, but it also leads to trade imbalance, insecurity and a threat to peace" .
I am sure that that is all true, but shouldn't the argument simply be: gendercide is wrong because female babies (born and unborn) are either being killed or left to die! Full stop. Quod erat demonstrandum. Surely world leaders should not then ask: "Yes, but what are the likely outcomes of this?"
Some things are wrong not because of their consequences, but because they intrinsically are wrong. Gendercide is one of those things. Thus, gendercide will be wrong even if you think its consequences are good, perhaps because it is furthering China's one child policy and helping to curb China's (and the world's) population. If world leaders cannot see that, and will only agree that it is wrong because its consequences are undesirable, then that is a very worrying state of affairs indeed.