Hanoi will strengthen enforcement efforts against the practice of sex selection in an effort to control the capital’s growing gender imbalance, the municipal Health Department said.
According to the department, the sex ratio at birth in the city has dropped from 117.6 boys per 100 girls in 2008 to 113.5 boys per 100 girls in 2017. In the first six months of 2018, the sex ratio at birth was 113.2 males per 100 females.
However, Hanoi’s rate of sex imbalance at birth remains high, reaching an alarming level in several suburban districts.
A survey in Long Bien district showed that 10 out of 14 wards recorded a significant sex imbalance at birth in 2017, such as Sai Dong ward with the rate of 137 boys per 100 girls and Viet Hung ward with 126 boys per 100 girls.
The incidence of sex imbalance at birth has increased sharply in cases of families who have the third child. The gender ratio at birth in these cases rises to 140-163 boys per 100 girls.
Head of the Hanoi Population and Family Planning Department Ta Quang Huy said one reason for the situation was demographic differences between rural and urban areas and the difference in education level as well as living standard of each region.
Sex imbalance at birth in the city was also caused by the longstanding preference of males to females, and by the tendency for suburban parents to want more children, he said.
The gender imbalance would seriously impact the country’s socio-economic development as well as the life of women, men, families and communities, experts said. A shortage of women would make it difficult for men to find a wife and likely to have to stay single, which would lead to social consequences, including rising gender inequality, women’s early marriage, re-marriage and divorce.
The imbalance also causes an increase in prostitution, trafficking of women and children and violence against women resulting from men’s social and sexual dissatisfaction. The paucity of women could cause a shortage of labour in particular occupations such as preschool or primary school teacher and nurse because of sexist ideas that these positions are suitable only for women.
According to Dr Hoang Duc Hanh, the health department’s deputy director, districts, wards and towns are responsible for inspecting medical facilities offering ultrasound scans in the localities. The city will also set up an inspection team to conduct unexpected and periodic inspections in the localities.
Population experts said that it was necessary pay more attention to educating couples of child-bearing age and increasing the supply of contraception.
In addition, it is necessary to develop supportive policies to improve the quality of social welfare for elderly people in order to reduce the pressure to have a son to take care of them, and support poor couples who give birth to girls.