UN report hits out at sex-selective abortions but wouldn’t ban them

The UN’s agency for population control has hit out against sex-selective abortions in a new report. Nonetheless, it quotes the UN’s Human Rights Committee comment that “bans on sex selection are often ineffective and also infringe reproductive rights”.

In its State of World Population 2020 report, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) writes that “From a human rights perspective, gender-biased sex selection is a harmful practice because it translates a preference for boys over girls into a deliberate prevention of female births. Unambiguously linked to discriminatory norms and behaviours, it is a malignant outcome of gender inequality.”

The 2020 report says that “[m]ore than 140 million females are considered missing today as a consequence not only of gender-biased sex selection but also of postnatal sex selection” (i.e. infanticide).

It adds that “between 2013 and 2017, about 460,000 girls in India were ‘missing’ at birth each year. According to one analysis, gender-biased sex selection accounts for about two thirds of the total missing girls”.

The report says that the UN’s Human Rights Committee, “has reminded States Parties that gender-biased sex selection is a reflection of the subordination of women and that they therefore have an obligation to address the root causes”.