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Tomorrow’s problems

Update: November, 20/2016 - 09:00
The gender ratio at birth in Hà Nội remains skewed in favour of the boys as people stick to old conventions and beliefs. — VNA/VNS Photo
Viet Nam News

There are many more boys than girls in Việt Nam.

This could become a problem in years to come when young men look for women to marry.

People have their own ideas about how to have families.

This makes it a difficult problem to solve.

HÀ NỘI — Some four million men in Việt Nam will have no chance of getting married by 2050 if the current imbalance in the nation’s sex ratio persists, experts say.

According to the Hà Nội Population and Family Planning Department, the capital city’s boy-to-girl ratio at birth in the first 9 months of this year remained high at 113.6:100.

Seven districts with the highest boy-to-girl ratios at birth are Sơn Tây (131.9:100); Ứng Hòa (130.1:100); Mê Linh (123.6:100); Ba Vì (121.9:100), Phú Xuyên (121.3:100), Thạch Thất (120.9:100) and Sóc Sơn (120.3:100).

Similar imbalances nationwide will lead to a shortage of women, which means that by 2050, 2.3-4.3 million men in Việt Nam will have no chance of finding wives, the General Directorate of Population and Family Planning estimates.

Population experts have warned that the gender imbalance can lead to an increase in the trafficking of women and children, prostitution and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS.

The imbalance in sex ratio at birth and a preference for sons has become a pressing issue in the country.

Since it is common practice that women go to live with their husbands’ family after getting married, the understanding is that daughters are eventually “lost” for good; hence, without a son, there will be no one to take care of parents when they get old.

With this mindset, couples come under a lot of pressure from the husbands’ families to have sons, and this increases if the first child is a girl.

Kiều Thị L. (first name withheld) in Sơn Tây Town’s Đường Lâm Commune, only succeeded in having a son from her 6th pregnancy. She gave birth to 3 daughters and had two intrauterine foetal deaths. Her husband was the head of his family line, the pressure to have a male child was immense.

Another couple in Ba Vì District’s Tây Đằng Commune gave birth to five children in hopes of getting a son. Three of them ended up being infected with the HIV virus from their father who was doing drugs.

Nguyễn Thị Liên, a family planning official in the commune, she visited the house repeatedly to persuade them to stop having babies, but the wife would sneak out every time she came.

“In more well-to-do families, their attitude towards family planning officials is, ‘I give birth to my children so I will raise them, keep your nose out of my business,’” Liên said.

Đỗ Việt Hùng, director of the Centre of Population and Family Planning in Sơn Tây town, said that the hard, exhausting labour required in the fields was the underlying reason for the preference for sons in suburban areas. 

Moreover, as 70 per cent of the rural population do not get any pension from the State, they feel insecure about not having a son to look after them when they get old, according to Hùng.

Long-term effort

The preference for sons is so deep-rooted that several measures taken in recent years to tackle gender imbalance, including increasing awareness of family planning, are still facing several obstacles.

Nevertheless, Hùng said, more people should be informed of the consequences of gender imbalance, as well as of the Population Ordinance issued by the National Assembly Standing Committee in 2003, which forbids gender selection of foetuses.

Hoàng Đức Hạnh, deputy director of the Hà Nội Department of Health, said that even though a Government Decree No 114 issued in 2006 regulated penalties for couples that gave birth to the third child, these were only applicable to Party members, not other citizens.

Moreover, the decree was rendered void after the Decree No. 176 was issued in 2013. This regulated penalties for medical wrongdoing but not for couples having more than two children.

Hạnh said reducing gender imbalance is a long-term mission that needs the entire political system to get involved.

Family planning criteria should be integrated into common goals that all citizens agree to, like community conventions or the criteria for villages to be recognised as “cultural villages,” he said. — VNS

GLOSSARY

Some four million men in Việt Nam will have no chance of getting married by 2050 if the current imbalance in the nation’s sex ratio persists, experts say.

If there is an imbalance in something it is lopsided.

The sex ratio is the balance between the number of men and the number of women in a community, which in this case is the country of Việt Nam.

Population experts have warned that the gender imbalance can lead to an increase in the trafficking of women and children, prostitution and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS.

Trafficking means trading, especially when it is very illegal and involving things like humans and drugs.

The imbalance in sex ratio at birth and a preference for sons has become a pressing issue in the country.

Preference means wishing to have something more than something else. In this case it is wishing for sons more than daughters.

Pressing means urgent.

With this mindset, couples come under a lot of pressure from the husbands’ families to have sons, and this increases if the first child is a girl.

A mindset is a way of thinking.

Kiều Thị L. (first name withheld) in Sơn Tây Town’s Đường Lâm Commune, only succeeded in having a son from her 6th pregnancy.

Succeeded means having done something you have been trying to achieve.

She gave birth to 3 daughters and had two intrauterine foetal deaths.

Intrauterine foetal deaths are the deaths of unborn babies in the uterus.

Her husband was the head of his family line, the pressure to have a male child was immense.

Immense means huge.

“In more well-to-do families, their attitude towards family planning officials is, ‘I give birth to my children so I will raise them, keep your nose out of my business,’” Liên said.

Keep your nose out of my business” means “do not interfere with my affairs”.

Đỗ Việt Hùng, director of the Centre of Population and Family Planning in Sơn Tây town, said that the hard, exhausting labour required in the fields was the underlying reason for the preference for sons in suburban areas. 

Suburban areas of cities in which people have their homes.

Moreover, as 70 per cent of the rural population do not get any pension from the State, they feel insecure about not having a son to look after them when they get old, according to Hùng.

A rural population means the people who live in the country.

To feel insecure means to uncertain.

The preference for sons is so deep-rooted that several measures taken in recent years to tackle gender imbalance, including increasing awareness of family planning, are still facing several obstacles.

Deep-rooted means deep in your beliefs.

Nevertheless, Hùng said, more people should be informed of the consequences of gender imbalance, as well as of the Population Ordinance issued by the National Assembly Standing Committee in 2003, which forbids gender selection of foetuses.

To forbid something means to not allow it.

Gender selection of foetuses means choosing which unborn babies should be allowed to be born and which should not.

Hoàng Đức Hạnh, deputy director of the Hà Nội Department of Health, said that even though a Government Decree No 114 issued in 2006 regulated penalties for couples that gave birth to the third child, these were only applicable to Party members, not other citizens.

Regulated penalties are punishments that are written down in the law books.

If penalties are applicable only to party members, it means that it is only party members that can be given these penalties.

Moreover, the decree was rendered void after the Decree No. 176 was issued in 2013. This regulated penalties for medical wrongdoing but not for couples having more than two children.

A decree is an order.

If a decree is rendered void it is no longer an order.

Family planning criteria should be integrated into common goals that all citizens agree to, like community conventions or the criteria for villages to be recognised as “cultural villages,” he said.

Family planning criteria are things that are important to family planning to decide whether it is good family planning or bad family planning.

Integrated means included.

WORKSHEET

State whether the following sentences are true, or false:

  1. In thirty-four years time, there will be more men than women in Việt Nam and it will be difficult for many women to find husbands.
  2. Many elderly people in country areas do not receive state pensions.
  3. Hoàng Đức Hạnh is the deputy director of the Hà Nội Department of Health.
  4. Kiều Thị L. is a family planning official.
  5. Taking drugs can give people a chance to catch the HIV/AIDS disease.

 

ANSWERS: 1. False; 2. True; 3. True; 4. False; 5. True. 

 

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