|It's a boys' world: A photo shows a kindergarten class. Aged between 4-5, there are very few girls in comparison with boys. — File Photo
by Minh Thu
HA NOI (VNS) — As the mother of a one-year-old boy, I feel a little nervous when I look at the imbalance of boys to girls in photos taken at kindergartens and schools.
My feelings were reflected byAustralian Ambassador Hugh Borrowman at an exhibition, Tradition and Future, when he said that the scarcity of young women could result in more being kidnapped and forced to marry.
The Australian Embassy and the Institute for Social Development Studies organised the exhibition of books, photos, drawings and stories highlighting the deepening phenomenon of the Vietnamese preference for sons and the social pressures behind this in a society with more men than women.
The exhibition marks the International Day for Ending Violence Against Women. It aims to urge Vietnamese men to back a programme for a natural sex ratio. The exhibition will run until December 9 at the Viet Nam Museum of Ethnology in Ha Noi.
"I believe that the exhibition and the booklet will help Vietnamese communities develop a fairer view towards the issue of having sons and daughters and acknowledge the important roles and contributions of women and girls," Borrowman said.
Birth and post-birth practices skewed to favour boys are deeply rooted in Asian society, and have rapidly changed Viet Nam in the last few decades. Men typically receive the family inheritance, carry on the family name and take care of their parents in old age, while women often leave to live with their husband's family.
"Most Vietnamese women are under enormous pressure to have at least one boy," said Khuat Thu Hong, vice director of the institute.
"Many of them have to have abortions, select the embryo gender or follow a special diet to ensure the baby is a boy.
"Many women suffer abuse or are abandoned when they can't give birth to a boy," she said.
Nguyen Huu The, a father of two girls, said he was happy and proud of his children, who were smart, obedient and pretty.
"Through the photos and stories, the exhibition reflects exactly what's happening in our society," he said.
The said his friends sometimes laugh at him because he doesn't have any male children. "They even provoke me, suggesting that I go about with another woman who would help me have a boy," he said. "Once a friend told me that he's luckier than me because when he dies, his two sons will undertake the ancestral rituals, while my daughters, who will live with their in-laws, won't care for their parents' altars.
"I told him that he could wait until he died to enjoy that kind of happiness. I will live in happiness until my death." — VNS