books purport to tell parents how to choose baby’s gender
|Women in the Khanh Hoa
Province receive reproductive health information. Regulations
prohibiting prenatal gender selection are being implemented. — VNA/VNS
Photo Duong Ngoc
HA NOI — It is quite
easy to find guide books for parents to follow prenatal gender selection methods
at bookstores throughout the capital city, according to Nguyen Thi Huong, a
mother of two girls living in Ha Noi.
Huong, who is currently
pregnant with her third child, said her second child wasn’t a boy because she
did not use books that guide prenatal gender selection.
"This time my husband
and I followed a book, given to me by my mother-in-law, which indicated that we
needed to eat a lot of salty food and avoid drinking milk before becoming
pregnant," said Huong.
A latest statistics from
the Ministry of Health (MoH) showed that nearly 270,000 babies were born in the
first quarter of this year. More than 27,400 of them were third children, a 1
per cent increase compared with 2008.
MoH reported that the
number of third-child births could be up to nearly 60,400 by the end of June.
Southern Kien Giang and
Hau Giang provinces, northern Lai Chau and Dien Bien provinces, and central
Quang Ngai Province take the lead in areas with families choosing to have third
Doctor Dao Thu Hien from
the National Obstetrics Hospital said the gender of a child depended more on the
parents rather than what they eat or drink. "There is no research proving
the rate of successfully choosing gender by following books."
A national ordinance
prohibits gender selection behaviours, including dissemination and popularising
methods through talking, writing, translating and publishing relevant books,
documents, pictures and recordings.
In Ha Noi, prenatal gender
selection books are sold at many bookstores on many streets including Trang Tien
Street, the capital city’s book centre, and even on pavements.
Chief of HCM City’s
Department of Population and Family Planning To Thi Kim Hoa said her department
had recently evaluated the content of ten books sent by the municipal Department
of Information and Communications. All books violated the Ordinance on
Population because they provided guidance on how a couple could give birth to a
"We have asked
inspectors from the General Office of Population and Family Planning to find
solutions for such books," said Hoa.
Head of HCM City Book
Distribution Company (FAHASA)’s Business Office Pham Thi Hoa said
almost 40 FAHASA bookstores were selling prenatal gender selection books. The
company receives thousands of book titles everyday, making it difficult to check
the content of all of them.
Therefore, when the
company signs contracts with publishing houses and book suppliers, the company
always ask them to take legal responsibility for the content and copyright of
the books, said Hoa.
"If book content is
prohibited by the Ordinance on Population, FAHASA would return the books to the
publishing houses and suppliers," said Hoa.
Chief of the Ministry of
Information and Communications’ Publishing Department Nguyen Kiem said his
department issued documents to prohibit the publishing of books on prenatal
gender selection in 2005.
Kiem said the newly-found
books could have been licensed before the Ordinance on Population came into
effect in 2004. The publishing houses continued to reprint books with the old
licence. "This also violates regulations because the publishing licence is
valid for one year."
Deputy head of HCM City
Information and Communications Department’s Press and Publishing Office Nguyen
Thi Minh Phuong said her office would collect books that guide prenatal gender
selection and issue fines in accordance with regulations.
To prevent gender
inequality, MoH has asked its municipal and provincial branches to co-ordinate
with the General Office of Statistics to issue an annual report on the number of
girls and boys born in their localities.
Cities and provinces are
required to implement regulations on prohibiting prenatal gender selection
behaviours, especially the use of ultrasound to determine the gender of the
foetus in order to opt for an abortion. All illegal services related to guided
births will be examined and fined. — VNS