By Jonathon Van Maren
Earlier this month, I noted that the so-called “feminist foreign policy” of some Western countries was in reality responsible for the destruction of millions of baby girls in the womb, leading, in a sick irony, to a shortage of women. At the time, I was referring to an Indian government report that indicated a full 63 million women were “missing” from the population, and that an additional two million girls went missing each year. Now The Guardian is reporting that the same problem exists in Armenia:
Sometimes it seems there are so many ways to destroy women that the methods become invisible to us. There are some women you will never see because they will never be born.
Amartya Sen talked of “missing women” in his famous 1990 essay because of technologies that enable prenatal sex selection. Most people are aware this happens in China and India, but I am in Armenia, talking to a nervy woman in her early 30s. We are in the eastern region of Gavar, which is second only to China in the number of female foetuses that are aborted. Here, 120 boys are born for every 100 girls.
The woman, who has two young daughters, tells me her girls say: “Let’s go to church to light a candle to get a little brother.” They want a boy, she wants a boy, her husband wants a boy. This is why she has had nine or 10 abortions – she is not sure exactly, and is vague about a “vascular condition”, given as a reason to terminate the pregnancies.
She droops slightly when asked for more detail. “If I get pregnant again and it’s a girl …” She trails off. She is not sure what she will do. She has heard of doctors in the capital, Yerevan, who could help her. Sex selection, for that is what we are talking about, became illegal in Armenia in 2016.
The preference for boys—and resulting demand for sex-selection abortion—is driven by the fact that in Armenia (just as in China) girls are often seen as a loss:
The woman says that if she gets rid of the next baby, she will not be sad. “My husband will be sad. He accuses me of eliminating all these children.” He is away for more than half the year working in Russia, as many Armenians are. “But,” she says defiantly, “in some years my girls will leave. I will be all by myself.”
This is one part of what propels prenatal sex selection – a need to ensure the family lineage, and the belief that boys will provide in old age. Girls grow up, marry and leave. They move in with the husband’s family. Boys are an investment. Girls are a loss. This I hear repeated over and over again. It is hard to reconcile with the modern women – doctors, journalists and politicians – who are everywhere in Yerevan. Some of the biggest pressures on women to have sons come from other women: mothers–in–law.
And then there is another relevant fact: Family size is shrinking dramatically. Where before it was very likely that families would have both boys and girls, that is far less likely now:
Where once they used to have seven or eight children, women in Armenia today give birth just once, on average. In the past, if the last child was a girl, she might be called the Armenian word for “Enough”, as if no one could be bothered to name her. Doctors now encourage women to celebrate carrying a girl, yet I hear the stories of what happens in “other places” where women are not allowed to be told the sex of their child at the 12-week scan. There are ways to find out, apparently, such as the pocket in which the doctor puts their pen – left for a girl, right for a boy.
The demographic impact is staggering. By one estimate, Armenia is losing more than 1,400 girls per year. No girls also means no partners, no wives, no mothers—and this fact is beginning to dawn on some as the gender imbalance results in bizarre scenarios:
Data collected in Armenia in 2010 started to bring home the sex imbalance: there were 115-120 boys being born for every 100 girls. Anecdotally, people talked of school dances in which boys were forced to dance with one another as there were so few girls.
Armenia is now attempting to implement a variety of strategies to reduce the gender imbalance, from working with the UN Population Fund (which is generally more concerned with reducing the population than funding it), sponsoring pro-girl messages to reduce the stigma around giving birth to daughters instead of sons, and encouraging religious leaders to emphasize biblical texts that highlight love and respect for women. These strategies are, some leaders say, beginning to have an impact. Time will tell.
It is a simple fact that world-wide, abortion has been used as a tool to physically destroy untold millions of girls before birth simply because they are girls. Here in the West, feminists love to claim that abortion is an essential tool of female liberation. That’s a lie even here—not to mention that claiming women can only be liberated by the blood of their own children is a disgusting slander—but everywhere else in the world, abortion is a word that represents gendercide and lethal misogyny. As Mark Steyn once put it, apparently the right to choose has become the right for women to choose for their to be no more women.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.