news 24 Mar 14

Montenegro Urged to Stop Gender-Selective Abortions

The Council of Europe has called on Montenegro to stop selective abortions after statistics showed a significant imbalance between the number of newborn male and female babies.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN
Podgorica

The Council of Europe's human rights commissioner Nils Muiznieks called on the Montenegrin authorities on Sunday to educate health professionals and adopt strict guidelines in order to prevent selective abortions.

According to the UN, some 100 girls are born for every 110 boys in Montenegro, while the usual ratio is 100 to 102-104.

"The fact that in Montenegro more boys than girls are born reflects the inequality of women in society," Muiznieks said in comments reported by local media.

In December last year, the Council of Europe announced that it would probe Montenegro over the large number of male newborns.

It asked for detailed information about abortions in Montenegro after the UN expressed suspicions that female embryos were being terminated deliberately.

The UN Population Fund ranked Montenegro among the countries with the largest imbalance between male and female births, alongside Albania, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Gender-selective abortion has been prohibited in Montenegro since 2009 and the abuse of pre-natal determination of the sex of an unborn child is treated as a criminal offence.

Montenegrin officials deny any evidence of widespread sex-selective abortion, but after a critical Council of Europe report, the government has ordered a task force to consider a problem that researchers say is rooted in cultural bias that favours male heirs.

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