Preference for boys causes high abortion in Vietnam.

HANOI: The preference for boys in Vietnam means the country now has the highest abortion rate in Asia and fifth-highest abortion rate in the world, according to a report released last year by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Abortion services are provided in both public and private hospitals with each abortion costing about 20 dollars. On average, every Vietnamese woman has 2.5 abortions in her lifetime.

It is illegal to have an abortion based on the sex of the foetus in Vietnam, but the problem is so widespread that clinicians are banned from revealing the sex of a foetus to prospective parents.

Doctors sometimes ask the reasons behind an abortion but often do not try to convince mothers to keep their babies.

Each year, about 1.2-1.6 million children are born, equivalent to the foetuses aborted, according to Vietnam's Ministry of Health.

Predictably, the number of female foetuses aborted greatly exceeds the number of male foetuses.

The bias for boys in strongly patriarchal societies is rooted in part to traditions that only a male heir can inherit family assets and take care of parents when they become old.

Traditionally women often leave to live with their husband's family. – dpa