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Expert Blames Gender Discrimination for Growing Sex Imbalance
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Discrimination against the female sex remains the primary cause of China's growing newborn gender imbalance, with an average of 123 boys being born for every 100 girls, a researcher in women's studies said on Friday.


"Gender inequality is everywhere: from selective abortions to employers' preferences for male graduates," said Liu Bohong, the vice director of the women studies institute under the All-China Women's Federation.


China's newborn sex ratio was 123 boys for every 100 girls in 2005, compared with 110:100 reported in 2000 and the international average of 100:104-107, she said at a press conference held by the United Nations.


Rural people are widely believed to be more "traditional" and prefer sons to daughters but the newborn gender imbalance is also widening in cities.


Chinese capital Beijing saw 109 boys born to every 100 girls in the first 11 months of this year.


Some couples, with a traditional preference for boys and only one chance to have a child, opt for abortion when they find out their unborn child is female. Many Chinese localities have outlawed fetus gender diagnosis to prevent the trend.


"When it comes to selective abortions, few people mourn the loss of the female fetuses that are aborted. The major concern is that 20 percent of men will be single in 20 years time. That attitude in itself reflects a gender imbalance," she said.


Liu refused to accept the imbalance was connected to China's one-child policy. "It is more a result of male chauvinism that is deep-rooted in Chinese culture," she said.


In an attempt to halt the growing imbalance, China launched a "care for girls" campaign nationwide in 2000 to promote the belief that men and women are equal. The government has also offered cash incentives to girl-only families in the countryside. But these policies have not had their desired effect.


Experts believe China still has a long way to go before women can enjoy the same social resources and opportunities as men.


"When it comes to gender inequality, the gap between legal stipulations and reality is wider than in any other area," said Zhang Youyun, vice president of China's employment facilitation association.


(Xinhua News Agency December 18, 2006)

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