Ani Kirakosyan says she is afraid of getting pregnant because if the ultrasound shows the foetus is a girl she will have to consider having an abortion. In ex-Soviet Armenia — where families traditionally prefer sons — women are often pressured to have sex-selective abortions to get rid of girl babies. “Relatives were consoling me when I gave birth to my first daughter,” said Kirakosyan, a 27-year-old resident of the Armenian capital, Yerevan. “But when my second daughter was born, my mother-in-law told me that there must be no more girls, that I must finally bear my husband a son.” The majority-Christian Caucasus country of some three million has the third highest rate of abortions of female foetuses in the world, a figure that rose sharply after the breakup of the Soviet Union. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has reported that there were 114 boys born to 100 girls in 2012. The natural norm would be 102-106 male births to 100 female ones. Sex-discriminatory abortions become more prevalent with second and subsequent children, and account for around 1,400 unborn girls each year. “In 10 to 20 years, we will face a shortage of women and — combined with a dramatic decline in fertility rates — that will lead to a serious demographic crisis,” warned Garik Hayrapetyan, UNFPA Armenia’s assistant representative. “By 2060, some 100,000 potential mothers will not have been born in Armenia. We will become a society of single men.”
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