Cat got your tongue?
Aug 6th 2011 | from the print edition
Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men. By Mara Hvistendahl. Public Affairs; 314 pages; $26.99 and £17.99. Buy from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk
《非自然选择：选男不选女和世界挤满男人的后果》。马拉•赫弗斯坦托尔（Mara Hvistendahl）。公共事务出版社; 共314页; 价格为$ 26.99美元和17.99英镑。可从Amazon.com和Amazon.co.uk网站购买。
AS HE walked into the maternity ward of Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan Hospital in Delhi on his first day at work in 1978, Puneet Bedi, a medical student, saw a cat bound past him “with a bloody blob dangling from its mouth.” “What was that thing—wet with blood, mangled, about the size of Bedi’s fist?” he remembers thinking. “Before long it struck him. Near the bed, in a tray normally reserved for disposing of used instruments, lay a fetus of five or six months, soaking in a pool of blood…He told a nurse, then a doctor, I saw a cat eat a fetus. Nobody on duty seemed concerned, however.” Mara Hvistendahl, a writer at Science magazine, is profoundly concerned, both about the fact that abortion was treated so casually, and the reason. “Why had the fetus not been disposed of more carefully? A nurse’s explanation came out cold. “Because it was a girl.”
1978年，普尼特•贝迪（Puneet Bedi）还是名医学院学生，当他上班第一天走进德里人民领导杰布里卡什•纳拉扬医院的产科病房时，看见一只猫 “嘴里叼着一个血淋淋东西”快速经过他身边跑掉了。“那是什么东西---湿淋淋，血肉模糊的，大约贝迪的拳头大小？”他想着记起来了。“不久，他被震惊了。看到床边通常留着为清理使用过的手术工具的一个托盘里放着一个五六个月的胎儿，浸泡在血液里……他先告诉护士，然后医生，‘我看到了猫正在吃胎儿’。然而，值班的人似乎并不关心。”《科学杂志》的作家马拉•赫弗斯坦托尔（Mara Hvistendahl）既深刻地关注着随便对待堕胎的事实，也深刻关注堕胎的理由。“为什么胎儿不能小心地处理呢？护士冷冷地解释到，‘因为那是个女孩。’”
Sex-selective abortion is one of the largest, least noticed disasters in the world. Though concentrated in China and India, it is practised in rich and poor countries and in Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Muslim societies alike. Because of males’ greater vulnerability to childhood disease, nature ensures that 105 boys are born for every 100 girls, so the sexes will be equal at marriageable age. Yet China’s sex ratio is 120 boys per 100 girls; India’s is 109 to 100.
The usual view of why this should be stresses traditional “son preference” in South and East Asia. Families wanted a son to bear the family name, to inherit property and to carry out funerary duties. Ms Hvistendahl has little truck with this account, which fails to explain why some of the richest, most outward-looking parts of India and China have the most skewed sex ratios. According to her account, sex-selection technologies were invented in the West, adopted there as a population-control measure and exported to East Asia by Western aid donors and American military officials.