Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Female Infanticide Isn't a Women's Issue. It's a Human Issue.

A news article today, Female Heads of State Discuss How 'Climate Change'--But Not Sex-Selective Abortions--Hurt Women, highlights how female leaders are declining to discuss the issue of female infanticide in a current summit. When asked for a comment on the issue by CNS News, they were told
“I think the council is unlikely to take that kind of a stand,” Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and president of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, responded.” It’s not that kind of a body.”

‘Women who have joined the council because they qualify as a former president, prime minister, or the ministerial level that Margot (Wallstrom, special representative to the United Nations Secretary General on sexual violence) chairs to empower, to support, to make visible and to listen to the voices of women.”

“And so that issue [abortion of female babies] would be more appropriate to some other kind of activist group,” Robinson said.

Robinson also said “the nearest I can come to it” is her work to combat child marriage, including the fact that “religion and tradition are often distorted to subjugate women.”

According to an Oct. 4, 2011 report by CQ Global Researcher, an estimated 160 million female babies have been killed by abortion or were killed or left to die after they were born in India, China and other Asian countries in the past 30 years.
Some feminists are probably outraged by this omission, but I am actually sympathetic to Mrs. Robinson's view here. While sex-selective abortion is targeted at young girls in China and India, it may be the men of those societies who are losing the most, not the women.

Putting aside the ethical issues surrounding abortion (I don't plan to open that can of worms) an undeniable effect is that the fetus never experiences life outside the womb. The "victims" of female infanticide never see the male-dominated world which they would be born into, so they really can't be said to suffer as a result of it. The group who really loses out are young men, many of whom by sheer arithmetic certainty will never be able to marry or start a family of their own.

In fact, sex-selective abortion may even increase the bargaining power available to women living now or born in the future. When single women become a scarce commodity, their bargaining position relative to men improves. Women can demand better conditions and treatment under marriage, because if the wife leaves her (ex-)husband will have less chance at remarriage. Paradoxically, the female infanticide which occurs under a male-dominated system may actually become that system's undoing!

Some would say that sex-selective abortion causes an increase in prostitution, which may be true. However, one would still expect prostitutes to benefit from increased bargaining power as well, when demand for their services increases. While this is probably less desirable than a world in which no women turn to the sex trade, it is also probably better than sex workers living in desperate poverty.

If CNS News had worked through the economic implications of female infanticide more thoroughly, they might have been less outraged by its omission in favor of discussing climate change. Sex-selective abortion has many negative social effects, but from a purely selfish standpoint it should really be the men who are most concerned about it - not women.

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