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Boy births rapidly outnumbering girls in Vietnam

FOR every 100 girls born to Vietnamese families, there are 112 boys born, a disparity in the sex ratio that has been rapidly increasing in recent years, an official said yesterday.

Duong Quoc Trong, deputy director general of the General Office for Population and Family Planning, blamed the rising imbalance on a cultural preference for boys who can "continue the bloodline."

He added that the belief that boys can better care for parents as they age has exacerbated the use of abortions to select for sex.

In an effort to stop the practice, Vietnamese law has prohibited doctors from revealing a fetus's sex since 2003.

But doctors commonly ignore the law.

The birth rate of boys had been increasing in recent decades, but the past few years have seen a more rapid rise.

In 1999, the birth rate was considered to be close to the natural rate - about 107 boys for every 100 girls - Trong said. But since 2006, the ratio of boys to girls has steadily risen above normal levels, he said.

It is estimated that by 2030 some 3 million Vietnamese men might not be able to find wives because of a shortage of women, said Dang Thi Bich Thuan, a spokeswoman for the family planning office.

"They may have to marry women from other countries and that would create many social problems because of cultural differences, and many others cannot find wives (and that) would also create many social vices," she said.

Trong said the government will implement stricter enforcement of the ban of abortion for sex selection.

The Ministry of Health has recently cracked down on some publishing houses, confiscating more than 2,600 books that claim to describe ways to conceive a male child, including special diets and timing of intercourse and menstruation cycles, Nguyen Dinh Bach, the Ministry of Health's deputy chief inspector, told a news conference.

The ministry also ordered seven Websites to remove articles offering such methods, he added.


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