LAHORE, November 26, 2013 ( – Fifty-six women have been killed in Pakistan this year for giving birth to a girl rather than a boy, human rights activist I.A. Rehman told a symposium marking the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women held in Lahore on Monday, according to the Pakistani Express Tribune

“A country where mothers are killed for giving birth to baby girls can’t be called an ethical society,” Rehman said at the symposium organized by the All Pakistan Women’s Association (APWA) and titled “Youth emerging as a force for positive change.” 

Women in some eastern Asian countries often face intense pressure to bring forth male children, and sex selective abortion in those countries is widespread.

In 2011, neighboring India reported that the average gender ratio in the country declined to 914 girls aged six and under for every 1,000 boys, the highest disparity in recorded history.


One woman, Dr. Mitu Khurana, a pediatrician, has become one of that country's leading opponents of gender selection after she was heavily pressured to abort her twin daughters by her in-laws. When she refused, she was severely abused and eventually abandoned by her husband.

Participants at the symposium were also informed that from January 2012 to September 2013, there were 90 acid attacks on women, 72 cases of burning caused by other means, 491 cases of domestic violence, 344 cases of gang rape and 835 cases of other forms of violence against women.

“Young girls are being raped in Pakistan and all we do is shout rather that do anything practical,” Rehman observed.

In an analysis produced in 2011 about the effects of sex selective abortion in China, India and South Korea, Dr. Therese Hesketh of the UCL Centre for International Health and Development and her fellow researchers pointed to the potentially “disastrous” consequences of growing gender imbalances in those countries, including increased violence.

“Cross-cultural evidence shows that the overwhelming majority of violent crime is perpetrated by young, unmarried, low-status males,” they wrote. “Because they may lack a stake in the existing social order, it is feared that they will become bound together in an outcast culture, turning to antisocial behaviour and organized crime, thereby threatening societal stability and security.”

The authors point to the expansion of the sex industry and human trafficking as another consequence, citing a study by JD Tucker published in the AIDS Journal, titled “Surplus men, sex work and the spread of HIV in China.” 

Chinese One Child Policy expert and opponent Reggie Littlejohn wrote last year “that the gender imbalance is driving sexual slavery not only within China, but from the surrounding countries as well.”

In 2005, the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) published a researched document entitled Women in an Insecure World. Along with the horrors committed against women such as “honor killings,” acid attacks for refusing a suitor, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking, this document mentions the effect that female gendercide has had on the world. 

DCAF wrote: “The number of the ‘missing’ women, killed for gender-related reasons, is of the same order of magnitude as the estimated 191 million human beings who have lost their lives directly or indirectly as a result of all the conflicts and wars of the 20th century—which was, with two world wars and numerous other murderous conflicts, the most violent period in human history so far. A sustained demographic ‘deficit’ of 100-200 million women implies that each year 1.5-3 million girls and women are killed through gender related violence.”

The APWA symposium coincided with a youth conference in Lahore, organized by the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative, that discussed how education can promote peace in Pakistan.

According to the UNGEI, Pakistan’s primary school enrollment is 76 percent for boys, but only 57 percent for girls, and Pakistani girls are frequently the victims of discrimination. Only 40 percent of Pakistani girls age 15 or younger are able to read and write.

Provincial Assembly Member Sardar Waqas Hassan Mokal opened his talk to the youth by providing his definition of peace.

“It is an environment that allows individuals to achieve their potential,” he said. “Unfortunately we in Pakistan do not have that environment.”

Pointing at the lack of educational opportunities in rural areas, MPA Anees Qureshi added that the growing disparity was responsible for the rising crime rate. “A large segment of uneducated and unemployed people is tempted to break the law,” he said.


Related story:

Women and worldview: the real ‘war on women’


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