Terms of Reference

Female feticide: refers to killing female fetuses/preborns.

Femicide: the targeted killing of women.

Forced abortion: an abortion preformed on a woman who would keep the child, but is forced to terminate against her will. This results not only in the death of the preborn child but also in health consequences for the mother, since the abortion is usually late term –even up to nine months.

Gendercide: a term first coined by feminist Mary Anne Warren in 1985, refers to the systematic killing of members of a particular sex. The term today generally refers to killing through abortions as well as infanticide, abandonment, and lethal violence against members of that gender. Given the son preference engrained in numerous cultures, gendercide has been used to refer to the killing of women.

“Missing” women/girls: a concept introduced in 1986 by Amartya Sen (see “More than 100 Million Women are Missing.” The New York Review of Books, Dec. 20, 1990 for more explanation), referring to excessive female mortality.  It is a way of assessing gender bias in mortality by estimating the additional number of females of all ages who would be alive if there had been equal treatment of the sexes among the cohorts that are alive today.  This term does not exclusively refer to women and girls missing due to sex-selective abortion, but this is one of the factors along with lack of access to health care, deliberate neglect of female children, under-reporting in census, and other factors.

In fact, while research shows absolute worsening worldwide, it shows relative improvements to female bias mortality in many areas like access to healthcare and nutrition, education, and employment  – but not  for sex-selective abortion, where the problem is increasing.  

For more in depth discussion of  the calculation methodology for “missing women” see “Missing Women: Revisiting the Debate” by Klasen and Wink.

Sex selection: obtaining a child of the desired sex through interventions. This can be done through pre- and post-implantation methods or at birth. Post-implantation methods consist of sex selective abortion and birth methods generally involve infanticide, abandonment or, in some cases, adoption. Abortion and infanticide are more available and common, particularly in non-western countries. Pre-implementation methods can include preimplanation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to screen for sex as part of the IVF process.

Sex-selective abortion: abortion preformed because of the sex of the baby. Often these are later term abortions, performed after an ultrasound has determined the sex of the baby.



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