Sex-Selective Abortions Spawning “Bachelor Villages”

BEIJING, MAY 29, 2001 ( Cheap, Chinese-made ultrasound machines that detect the gender of unborn babies are leading to an increase in sex-selective abortions and a boom in the male population of rural villages, the Washington Post reports.

“Bachelor villages,” inhabited predominantly by men, dot parts of China´s poorer regions, where a traditional bias in favor of male offspring runs deep, the paper said today. Police researchers say crime has grown among the millions of men of marrying age who cannot find wives.

The government criminalized sex-selective abortions in 1995, but that hasn´t kept the ratio of boys to girls from reaching 140 to 100 in some areas. China has 41 million more males than females among its 1.2 billion people, up 10% from a 1997 estimate, researchers say.

Ultrasound machines first appeared in China in the mid-1980s. Firms near Shanghai and in surrounding Jiangsu province produce thousands of machines a year for less than $2,000 apiece.

“It´s not one or two counties that have them,” said Wu Cangping, a senior demographer. “Every county has one. Even townships have them now.”