Blog: Sex-selective abortion in the Caucasus

babyuLet´s talk again about gender based violence, but this time a little further. Let´s start at birth, or more specifically – misbirth.

Sex-selective abortion is an example that shows, that violence against women starts even before they are given a chance of their first breath. Just because of their gender. The number one country in the world for sex-selective abortions is China. The country´s one-child law is largely to blame here. Quite surprisingly, the next three countries are Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia.

There are a lot of explanations; from carrying on the family´s name to, heritage laws or the fact that male birth is considered more prestigious. As it is a very traditional society, the reason for having or not having a daughter might even be influenced by knowing, that when a girl gets married, she usually moves into her in-laws’ house, while a son (traditionally, the second son) stays in the house of his parents and takes over their work.

The Georgian Orthodox Church is opposed to abortions and pressured the government to create laws to limit the indications for abortions to serious medical or social conditions. Nevertheless, it is made very easy. You can order a blood or urine based sex screening test from the internet and if you are not happy with the result, you can order abortion pills (e.g. misoprostol) the same way and for a relatively small price (20-30 USD).

I am not against abortions. I believe that every woman should have the right to make decisions about her body. It is always a difficult decision to take a life. No woman gives up her child just because it´s “uncomfortable” or she “just doesn´t like children”. Usually there is a reason. What I am against, however, is letting the gender of the child be the reason.

The fact, that there is still a problem of sex-selective abortions in the South-Caucasus indicates a belief, that a woman is worse than a man. To me it shows that a result of a blood or urine test is considered a measure of a person’s worth. Moreover, if a girl is considered lower than a boy even before she is born, how could she be considered an equal when she grows up?

Maybe my European upbringing is to blame here. Maybe there is an important tradition regarding sex-selective abortions here. But I would like to believe, that people know and understand, that a female child is as dear to a parent as a male child. That both sons and daughters bring joy to the family and that prestige or family´s name should not be the main reason to decide over life or death.


Talvike Mändla is an Estonian graduate with a degree in Special Education. She is currently volunteering on a one-year placement in Zugdidi, Georgia. You can read more of here work on her blog.


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