A qualitative research on skewed sex ratio at birth in Azerbaijan

Mehmet Ali Eryurt, Hacettepe University
Ilknur Yüksel-Kaptanoglu, Hacettepe University
Ismet Koc, Hacettepe University
Alanur Cavlin, Hacettepe University

Skewed sex ratio at birth has emerged in the 1990s in the wide territory including Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s sex ratio at birth has increased from the reasonable margins (103-106) to as high as 120-124 during the last 20 years. The paper aims to present some insights about the mechanisms behind the high sex ratio at birth in Azerbaijan based on the data from the qualitative research conducted with the support of UNFPA Azerbaijan in 2012. During the qualitative research, a variety of information related with perceptions, experiences and opinions of people on son preference, number of children, practices of contraceptive use, abortion, sex-selective abortion and sex diagnosis are collected with a number of focus groups and in-depth interviews. The study uses the theoretical framework borrowed from Guilmoto (2009) suggesting three mechanisms behind the sex selective induced abortions. The first one is the supply factor which is the availability of technologies capable of determining the sex of the foetus. The second one, the demand factor is related with the existence of son preference in the society. The third mechanism is the low fertility rate to the extent to force parents for sex preference. The results of the study put forward a strong son preference among both men and women from different generations, socio-economic background and regions of the country. Women are typically seen as birds of passage in Azerbaijani culture moving from their own family to another. Furthermore, females are regarded as “guests”; while males are seen as “lasting” element of their families. The roles attributed to males include the followings: “sustaining the family”, “bringing honour to his family” “protecting the property and honour of his family”, “protecting his country as soldiers”, “earning money”, “taking care of his parents when they are old”, “carrying the coffin of the family members”.

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Presented in Session 70: Reproductive health outcomes