Matter of choice?: European body concerned about pre-natal sex selection trends in Armenia

Matter of choice?: European body concerned about pre-natal sex selection trends in Armenia

The Council of Europe is concerned about the number of abortions triggered by the sex of the foetus in Armenia. A draft resolution to this effect (concerning three other countries as well) is going to be discussed at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly’s (PACE) next plenary session due on October 3-7.

Last week the PACE Committee on Equal Opportunities warned that pre-natal sex selection has reached “worrying proportions” in four Council of Europe member states, including in Armenia where the ratio is 112 boys for 100 girls.

Remarkably, in neighboring Azerbaijan (as well as in Albania) the situation is the same (112 boys per 100 girls), while in Georgia the ratio is 111 boys for 100 girls.

In adopting the draft resolution based on the report by Doris Stump (Switzerland, SOC), the Committee calls on these four countries to “investigate the causes and reasons behind skewed sex ratios at birth” and to step up their efforts to “raise the status of women in society.”

According to the draft resolution, the government of Armenia and the other countries in question should ensure the collection of reliable data on sex ratios at birth, including in different geographical areas within the same country, and train medical staff about pre-natal sex selection.

The approval of the resolution will mean that all Council of Europe member states should recommend that public hospitals instruct doctors “to withhold information about the sex of the foetus”.

At present, the United Nations Population Fund is carrying out a survey in Armenia regarding the number of sex-related abortions. The project is now at the field stage and data are not published yet.

Garik Hayrapetyan, deputy representative of the Fund, told ArmeniaNow that the draft suggested by the Council of Europe, that is not to disclose to parents the sex their expected child, would create “additional corruption risks.”

“We should simply change people’s attitude so that they do not give less preference to baby girls as compared to baby boys,” he added.