Quliyev suggested that banning abortion and prohibiting revealing the sex of the foetus to the parents during pregnancy, the way South Korea did during the 1990s when it was facing sex-selective abortions, could be one way of tackling the issue.

But most of the Azerbaijanis surveyed, including sociologist Shahmaliyev and activist Zeynalova, believe that bans would not be provide an answer to the problem, as the UNFPA report also indicates.

According to the report there was wide consensus amongst the government officials and others interviewed that bans are not the answer. First, they would be very difficult to enforce, as doctors can just give a different reason for conducting the abortion. Second, they run the risk of pushing women to have abortions under less safe circumstances. Besides, technological developments are making it ever easier to detect the sex of the foetus early in pregnancy.

Rather than bans, what Azerbaijan society needs is a large-scale action plan. Indeed a measure to this end is actually ready and awaiting governmental approval.

Implementing the action plan

Elnur Suleymanov, the head of a department at Azerbaijanʹs Labour and Social Protection of Population Ministry, said that the efforts of imams, groups and ministries are important, but insufficient when it comes to tacking the problem.

"We have prepared an action plan with the UNFPA. We are asking other state institutions for their opinions on this plan, which is based on raising awareness and running campaigns aimed at gender equality. This plan will present a comprehensive roadmap for effective intervention strategies to reduce sex-selective abortions; it will have its own budget, executive committee and measures. We need it to protect the future of our society."

Ayse Karabat

© Qantara.de 2019

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