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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Lacking equality

A shocking figure from a rising superpower:

"More than 10m female births in India may have been lost to abortion and sex selection in the past 20 years, according to medical research.

"Researchers in India and Canada for the Lancet journal said prenatal selection and selective abortion was causing the loss of 500,000 girls a year."

Pickled Politics blog takes a look at the issue and concludes:

"Asian women have a long, long way to go in the fight for equality. What’s more upsetting is that the perpetrators of crimes against females are often female themselves. Society has managed to convince men and women that females are inferior."


Blogger Wombat said...

How do these figures compare to those in China, which have undoubtedly been affected by the 1 child policy?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 10:01:00 am  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Don't have the figures to hand, but I remember reading recently about horrific figures on discarded female babies and aborted babies.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 10:09:00 am  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Are we gonna start to see you out at the pro-life rallies, Anty? Is an un-PC abortion (killing a unborn girl infant) somehow worse than a PC abortion (killing an unborn infant so that it won't interfere with grad school)? I'd like to think they were both morally wrong, and you, who likes to style himself the defender of all the weakest members of society, would agree..

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 10:18:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...


You really should put that quesriob to the people it affects the most, women. I think ther is a wolrd of diferrence between a child being arborted because it cannto be provided a future and one that is killed becasue it was born the wrong gender.

Personally speakibg, life is enough of a struggle without being born unwelcome into the world. There are far too many unloves and unwated children i teh world as it is. Wh in their right mind would suggets we have more?

It's ironic that most pro-lifers are also in favor of the death penalty. Which are you?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 10:24:00 am  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

The death penalty is a separate question, and is generally introduced as a straw man to muddy the waters of the abortion debate. However, note that the Catholic Church, which is probably the foremost opponent of abortion, is also completely and unreservedly anti-death penalty. Read the writings of John Paul the Great for further confirmation of this. I'm honestly very muddled myself on this issue; I don't like the idea of the state taking a citizen's life from a libertarian perspective, BUT when I see a scumbag like Tookie Williams get his comeuppance, I think good riddance to bad rubbish. But again, this is a side issue.

Interestingly, Anty is making the case that there is something deficient about a non-Western culture, i.e., that it devalues women, but again that's a side issue: the question is not just about women, but the unborn children...what's the difference of being born "unwanted" because mum lives in India where girls are less-than-valued, or in Australia, when mum is half-way through a cultural studies degree? What we often call "not being provided for" is generally the result of a very narrow imagination and a great deal of selfishness.

Just because a child is unexpected or inconvenient doesn't mean it should be killed, any more than because she has the wrong equipment between her legs.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 10:45:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...


You don't think you are suffering from an over active imagination? You think all abortions are the result of some women putting their ambitions before the welfare of a child? Do you have statistics to prove that abortions are predominantly brought about by lifestyle decisions?

Perhaps you should reserve the judgment for a woman who is finds herself as a sole parent with no one to turn to. Or a 14 year old girl, who has no hope in hell of being a mother. Not everyone has a support structure to help them raise a child.

The children being killed in Indian are born for a start, which makes a big difference from aborting a fetus that is a few moths old. There's no point into getting into a theological debate about what point a fetus becomes a human being, suffice to say that it is a very ugly choice to have to make.

You’re derogatory reference to a women’s genitalia seems devoid of the fact that the responsibility for such decisions primarily rest with women.

I’m not advocating that such decisions be taken lightly, but one thing is for certain, the choice cannot ever rest with the state on this matter.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 11:25:00 am  
Blogger Wilbourne said...

Is it reasonable of me to suggest that mothers in Australia who have abortions because they can't provide a 'future' for the child can indeed provide a better future for that child then a poor Indian mother who's culture values male children more. Are we to believe that the majority of abortions in this country are anything but a lifestyle choice? Poor as they may be in Australia, the government and other welfare oriented organisations ensure babies are looked after. The same cannot be said about many children in India, even if the actual reason for that abortion is gender related.

So is India's case any worse then Australia's? 10 million may seem like a high number to us, but from a population nearing one billion, what is the proportional rate relative to our population, I wonder?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 11:50:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

FYI - China's problem is far worse. I think at present there are 117 boys being born for every 100 girls. 80% of all abortions are of female foetuses. It is currently illegal for a doctor to inform the parents of the sex of their child, and it is also illegal for a medical practitioner to perform a prenatal scan to determine the sex of the foetus.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 12:43:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Are there any studies you are aware of James in relation to China?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 12:57:00 pm  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

I stand by what I said before, in that I believe that the vast majorities of abortions are terminations of convenience - the knocked-up 14-year-old is the exception, rather than the rule. In fact, given the numbers of terminations every year in this country, one sees that it is a fairly routine procedure done, presumably, under fairly routine circumstances, including that it would inconvenience study, work, travel plans. I know anecdotally of an awful lot of these cases, and I'm sure if you're honest you can say the same thing.

How was I being derogatory to women's genitalia? All I was stating was that that was the deciding factor in what we were discussing.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 1:23:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Yes it is a deciding factor. Women aren't just incubators.

I respect your belief in this matter, but I don't know of any woman who has ever taken the descision lightly to have an abortion. Having a baby is much much more than an incovenience. It is probably the signle most important and demanding job a person can have, and I believe it's fair to say not all people are up to the task.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 1:50:00 pm  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Sure, which is why there should be plenty of other options available as well - including adoption, which is ridiculously hard to do for parents who would like to adopt. For all the money we spend on IVF, couldn't we bring these two parties together somehow?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 3:14:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

That's a great suggestion. Anyone can get pregnant but the hoops people have to jump through to adopt a child are unbelievable - and forget all about it if you're a single woman wanting to adopt.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 4:54:00 pm  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Yes. Absolutely. It's scandalous. In the US there are huge numbers of private adoptions where infertile couples link up with a girl who's pregnant but (a) doesn't want to have a baby at that stage in her life and also (b) doesn't want to have an abortion either, and while it's not perfect and there are hiccups, it saves lives and increases the sum total of happiness. Who could argue with that?

Look, everyone's always saying that it's a woman's choice, but so many times there's really serious and unfair boyfriend pressure involved, and maybe the girl would like to keep it but he doesn't want to step up, and so it's a choice between keeping the kid and keeping the boyfriend. There should absolutely be more support at every level of society so that abortion is not just seen as the best of a bunch of bad options.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 5:31:00 pm  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

Next you'll want to end honor killings. What is wrong with you people? Leave their cultures alone! Do you want them to fly a plane into one of your buildings, killing a few thousand?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 3:11:00 am  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 11:18:00 am  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

The most insightful remark I have seen on this topic was over at JF Beck's blog where Mine Host said...

"This may be more a case of men being in control of women's bodies. Women have exactly HOW MUCH say in major decisions in Indian society?"

I support a woman's right to decide, but this is of questionable value without gender equality in society at large.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 12:04:00 pm  
Blogger orang said...

leftvegdrunk said...
"The most insightful remark I have seen on this topic was over at JF Beck's blog where Mine Host said...

"This may be more a case of men being in control of women's bodies. Women have exactly HOW MUCH say in major decisions in Indian society?""

I think it's more than just men being in control. Think about dowries (the bride's family have to pay to the groom's family for the marriage)The arguments over this are incessant. Even after the wedding there are complaints about more money. The term "kitchen deaths" is something you should investigate. Where the groom/groom family are disatisfied with their deal so get rid of the bride with an "accident" in the kitchen.

My point is , this is not merely a case of a man's choice being paramount over a woman's , it's the reality of long term economic hardship with a girl baby vs a boy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 8:06:00 pm  

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