Although Gender Biased Sex selection is not prevalent in Bangladesh at the moment, the situation could turn into an alarming concern in view of the grave state created out of rampant use of sex detection technology, which has been the case in some of the neighbouring countries like India, Vietnam and Nepal.
"The prevailing son preference attitude in Bangladesh, and the consequent undervaluing of women and girls have the potential to significantly affect the country's social and demographic scenario in the coming days unless these issues are addressed proactively with accelerated efforts," experts, journalists, rights and development activists expressed the concern at a two-day 'Orientation Workshop for Media on the Positive Portrayals of Women and Girls in Bangladesh'.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Bangladesh in collaboration with Concerned Women for Family Development (CWFD) organised the workshop at Brac CDMA at Rajendrapur, Gazipur on June 20-21.
It was found in a 2019 study, conducted by the University of Dhaka, that about 28% of women from a representative sample had a son preference for their first child, while 24% of men had the same.
They said that low fertility, a skewed sex ratio at birth and use of sex-detection technology – the three preconditions of Gender Biased Sex (GSB) selection, which might translate into an alarming decrease in female to male ratio, as explained by demographers- are prevailing in Bangladesh.
It was observed at the workshop that the repercussions of son preference and the consequent undervaluing of girls affects women and girls even before they are born and follows them throughout the course of their life.
Zashim Uddin, Director General of the Mass Communication Department of Government of Bangladesh, who was present as the Chief Guest in the closing session of the workshop said, "Much of the credit behind the significant advancement of gender equality and women's empowerment in Bangladesh goes to the thriving media in Bangladesh. We will accelerate our communication efforts by adopting innovative approaches to address the issues of son preference and undervaluing of women and girls."
More than 25 media professionals from different forms of media, including newspapers, television channels, radio stations, news agencies, online portals and advertising agencies and youth representatives, took part in the workshop.