Elevate Difference

Son Preference: Sex Selection, Gender and Culture in South Asia

Son Preference is one of the most compelling insights into the issue of sex selection I have read. Written through a scholarly yet personal lens, the author takes reader through the narrative and complexities of culture and gender in South Asia. She brings together key debates on the subject by assessing and critically engaging with existing literature in the field and providing new insights through primary empirical research.

Natvej K.Pureval’s work covers a broad range of social science discussions and draws upon textual and ethnographic material from India. With her work, Pureval invites more studies into the field of sex selection that would raise more questions about the normative backdrop of son preference issue. While son preference is not a new phenomenon, and has existed historically in many parts of Asia, it has recently become an issue of not only local but also global dimensions. The phenomenon exemplifies the gendered outcomes of social power relations as they intersect with culture, technologies, and economics.

While the literature on son preference and sex selection has been primarily concerned with understanding it as a practice, resistance and opposition to it have been more or less analytically ignored. Pureval, thus, examines policy and official anti-female foeticide activism and anti-sex selection movement that has emerged across national boundaries and involves not only feminist activists but also people from health sector and wider society. She also draws on young women thoughts and articulations, which make significant contributions to the understanding of recent and ongoing trends. Pureval demonstrates that women’s voices and attitudes towards son preference are by no means unitary and static, but rather shifting and changing.

Son Preference will be of interest to students, academics, and anyone interested in this contentious issue surrounding gender inequity and sex selection. It provides a valuable addition to the existing literature on this highly sensitive topic, and proposes new directions for ethnographic research and analysis.

Written by: Olivera Simic, July 28th 2010