> Formation > Doctorant au Ceped > Thèses soutenues

2018

Girls Wanted : L’influence de la politique publique sur la sélection sexuelle en Corée du Sud, en Inde et au Vietnam

Laura Rahm

Thèse de Sociologie Politique préparée par Laura RAHM sous la direction de Christophe Z. GUILMOTO soutenue le 8 juin 2018 à l’université Paris Descartes.

Résumé du projet de thèse

Plus de 130 millions de femmes sont portées disparues dans le monde pour cause de sélection en fonction du genre. Depuis les années 1980, plusieurs pays asiatiques ont adopté des politiques pour contrer cette forme de discrimination. Bien que les politiques publiques soient souvent promues comme une solution, on sait peu de choses sur ces politiques et leur influence sur les déséquilibres de sexe à la naissance. Cette recherche vise à comprendre le déroulement des politiques publiques en divers contextes socioculturels. Quels sont les intentions, les instruments et les impacts des politiques publiques contre la sélection sexuelle dans différents pays asiatiques ? L’Inde, le Vietnam et la Corée du Sud ont été choisis dans le cadre du Most Different Systems Design pour représenter la diversité des pays dans leur réponse à la masculinisation démographique. La comparaison de politiques similaires en différents pays fournit une expérience naturelle pour évaluer leur influence sur la sélection prénatale du sexe. Nous présentons de nouvelles recherches empiriques, menées en Corée du Sud, en Inde et au Vietnam entre 2014 et 2015 et basées sur des entretiens d’experts, ainsi que des analyses statistiques pour comparer les zones avant et après l’intervention politique.
Cette thèse montre que les trois pays partagent des instruments politiques similaires, notamment des interdictions légales, des campagnes de sensibilisation, des plaidoyers, des incitations et des lois sur l’égalité des sexes pour renforcer le rôle des femmes dans la société. Cependant, les intentions politiques variaient d’un pays à l’autre : renforcer les droits des femmes en Inde, promouvoir une structure de population équilibrée au Vietnam, protéger les droits du fœtus en Corée du Sud. En termes d’impact, les politiques eurent une efficacité limitée. La collaboration internationale pour lutter contre la sélection du sexe a facilité le transfert de politiques et de connaissances transnationales, où les enseignements tirés des expériences sont partagés entre les pays. Cette atmosphère a contribué à une convergence croissante des politiques. Néanmoins, les gouvernements interprètent ces politiques en fonction de leurs propres intentions et stratégies de mise en œuvre. Nos résultats apportent ainsi une contribution à un domaine peu étudié. Bien plus, ils permettent une meilleure compréhension de l’interaction complexe entre dynamiques locale et mondiale dans la lutte contre la sélection sexuelle.

Mots-Clés

Sélection prénatale, avortements sélectifs, déséquilibre du sex-ratio, politiques publiques, politiques de population.

Zone géographique

Asie du Sud et Asie de l’Est, en particulier Inde, Vietnam et Corée du Sud.

Publications

2018

  • Becquet Valentine et Rahm Laura (2018) « Nation, Race and Sex-Selection in India and Vietnam » (communication orale), présenté à Remaking Reproduction: The Global Politics of Reproductive Technologies, Cambridge.


  • Guilmoto Christophe Z., Dudwick Nora, Gjonça Arjan et Rahm Laura (2018) « How Do Demographic Trends Change? The Onset of Birth Masculinization in Albania, Georgia, and Vietnam 1990-2005: The Onset of Birth Masculinization in Albania, Georgia, and Vietnam », Population and Development Review, 44 (1) (mars), p. 37-61. DOI : 10/gdk2sx. http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/padr.12111.
  • Rahm Laura (2018) « Girls Wanted: The Influence of Public Policy on Sex Selection in South Korea, India and Vietnam », Thèse de doctorat de Sociologie Politique et Démographie, Paris : Paris Descartes, 414 p.
    Résumé : Plus de 130 millions de femmes sont portées disparues dans le monde pour cause de sélection en fonction du genre. Depuis les années 1980, plusieurs pays asiatiques ont adopté des politiques pour contrer cette forme de discrimination. Bien que les politiques publiques soient souvent promues comme une solution, on sait peu de choses sur ces politiques et leur influence sur les déséquilibres de sexe à la naissance. Cette recherche vise à comprendre le déroulement des politiques publiques en divers contextes socioculturels. Quels sont les intentions, les instruments et les impacts des politiques publiques contre la sélection sexuelle dans différents pays asiatiques ? L'Inde, le Vietnam et la Corée du Sud ont été choisis dans le cadre du Most Different Systems Design pour représenter la diversité des pays dans leur réponse à la masculinisation démographique. La comparaison de politiques similaires en différents pays fournit une expérience naturelle pour évaluer leur influence sur la sélection prénatale du sexe. Nous présentons de nouvelles recherches empiriques, menées en Corée du Sud, en Inde et au Vietnam entre 2014 et 2015 et basées sur des entretiens d'experts, ainsi que des analyses statistiques pour comparer les zones avant et après l’intervention politique. Cette thèse montre que les trois pays partagent des instruments politiques similaires, notamment des interdictions légales, des campagnes de sensibilisation, des plaidoyers, des incitations et des lois sur l'égalité des sexes pour renforcer le rôle des femmes dans la société. Cependant, les intentions politiques variaient d'un pays à l'autre : renforcer les droits des femmes en Inde, promouvoir une structure de population équilibrée au Vietnam, protéger les droits du fœtus en Corée du Sud. En termes d’impact, les politiques eurent une efficacité limitée. La collaboration internationale pour lutter contre la sélection du sexe a facilité le transfert de politiques et de connaissances transnationales, où les enseignements tirés des expériences sont partagés entre les pays. Cette atmosphère a contribué à une convergence croissante des politiques. Néanmoins, les gouvernements interprètent ces politiques en fonction de leurs propres intentions et stratégies de mise en œuvre. Nos résultats apportent ainsi une contribution à un domaine peu étudié. Bien plus, ils permettent une meilleure compréhension de l'interaction complexe entre dynamiques locale et mondiale dans la lutte contre la sélection sexuelle. Mots-Clés: politique publique, transfert de politiques, sélection sexuelle, déséquilibre de sex ratio, masculinité des naissances, préférence pour les fils Zone géographique: Corée du Sud, Inde, Vietnam GIRLS WANTED: The influence of public policy on sex selection in South Korea, India and Vietnam Thesis of Political Sociology and Demography by Laura RAHM defended on June 08, 2018 under the direction of Christophe Z GUILMOTO at Paris Descartes University. More than 130 million women are missing in the world due to gender-biased sex selection. Since the 1980s, several Asian countries have adopted policies to counter this form of discrimination. Although public policies are often promoted as a solution, little is known about these policies and their influence on sex imbalances at birth. This research aims to understand public policies in various socio-cultural contexts. What are the intentions, instruments and impacts of public policies against sex selection in different Asian countries? India, Vietnam and South Korea were chosen as part of Most Different Systems Design to represent the diversity of countries that responsed to demographic masculinization. Comparing similar policies in different countries provides a natural experiment to assess their influence on prenatal sex selection. We present new empirical research, conducted in South Korea, India and Vietnam between 2014 and 2015, based on expert interviews, as well as statistical analysis comparing pre- and post-intervention areas. This thesis shows that the three countries share similar policy instruments, including legal bans, awareness campaigns, advocacy, incentives and gender equality laws to strengthen the role of women in society. However, policy intentions varied across countries from strengthening women’s rights in India, to promoting a balanced population structure in Vietnam, to protecting fetal rights in South Korea. Regarding the policy impact, anti-sex selection policies have had limited efficacy in curbing sex imbalances. International collaboration to tackle sex selection has facilitated the transnational policy and knowledge transfer, where lessons learned are shared between the countries. This atmosphere has contributed to a growing convergence of policies. Nevertheless, governments interpret these policies according to their own policy intentions and implementation strategies. Our findings thus not only contribute to an under-researched field of public policies, but also allow for a better understanding of the complex interplay between local and global dynamics in anti-sex selection efforts. Keywords: public policy, policy transfer, sex selection, sex ratio imbalance, birth masculinity, son preference Location: South Korea, India, Vietnam
    Mots-clés : Corée du Sud, Inde, masculinité des naissances, POLITIQUE PUBLIQUE, préférence de genre, rapport de masculinité à la naissance, sélection sexuelle, transfert de politiques, VIET NAM.

2017

  • Guilmoto Christophe Z., Dudwick Nora, Gjonça Arjan et Rahm Laura (2017) « The onset of birth masculinization in Albania, Georgia and Viet Nam » (communication orale), présenté à XXVIII IUSSP International Population Conference, Cape Town.
  • Rahm Laura (2017) « Protect. Track. Emancipate: The Role of Political Masculinities in India’s Fight Against Sex Selection », Working Paper, p. 35.
    Résumé : One of the side effects of India’s rapid socio-economic transition has been a growing demographic masculinization with millions of ‘missing’ women. Modern technologies have enabled couples to determine and select the fetal sex in their aspirations for small families with at least one son. Since the 1990s political efforts to control sex selection have met with little success. This paper assesses policy effectiveness and the role of political masculinities in India’s fight against sex selection. This qualitative analysis draws from policy files and 47 in-depth semi-structured expert interviews conducted in Delhi, Punjab and Haryana in 2014-2015. Interview participants included national policy makers, state and district implementers as well as representatives from non-governmental and international organizations. Interviews were thematically analyzed based on Braun and Clarke (2006). The paper finds that state action against sex selection frequently follows the logic of ‘protecting’, ‘tracking’ and ‘emancipating’ females – analogue to roles of a family patriarch towards his kin. While these gendered roles are dynamic and evolve due to international and local pressures, they are expressions of a patriarchal system, which reproduces gender biases, and thus undermines policy efforts against sex selection.
  • Rahm Laura (2017) « Fighting gender-biased sex selection: The role of transnational communication and international harmonization. Insights from South Korea, India and Vietnam » (communication orale), présenté à 6th French Network for Asian Studies International Conference (FNASIC), Sciences Po, Paris.
    Résumé : Over the past 30 years several Asian countries - from Armenia to Vietnam - are facing sex imbal-ances at birth, favoring male offspring. Despite the social, economic and political diversity of these countries, their governments have implemented similar public policies to address the growing mas-culinization of their populations. These include legal bans, awareness raising campaigns and enti-tlements for girls. This paper explores the reasons for the convergence of public policy addressing sex selection, drawing from policy files and interviews conducted with policy makers, scholars, and representatives of international agencies in South Korea, India and Vietnam between 2014 and 2015. It finds that transnational communication and international harmonization - promoted by in-ternational organizations and epistemic communities - are the most important factors in explaining similar policies among diverse countries. International organizations led by UNFPA play a key role in collecting data and supporting interventions against sex selection, emphasizing evidence-based policy-making. Nevertheless, there is a tendency to internationally promote and transfer policies without being certain of their impact.

  • Rahm Laura (2017) « Girls Wanted: The influence of public policy on prenatal sex selection. Insights from South Korea, India and Vietnam » (communication orale), présenté à CEPED Journées doctorales des Suds, Paris. http://www.ceped.org/evenement/journees-doctorales-des-suds-1274.
    Résumé : The thesis provides a comparative analysis of policies and programs fighting gender-biased sex selection in selected Asian countries. South Korea, India and Vietnam were chosen in a "Most Different Systems Design". Focus was placed on regional case studies (Daegu, SK; Punjab, IN; Hai Duong, VT), where similar policies have been implemented to address severely skewed sex ratios at birth. The research stresses similarities and structural differences between these three diverse settings. Combining qualitative expert interviews with policy implementors and quantitative data on sex ratio trends, I assess the effectiveness of these regional policy interventions, showing that sex selection has declined to different degrees in all three countries, partly due to policy intervention, but gaps remain.
  • Rahm Laura (2017) « Son Preference, Politics and Policy in Asia » (communication orale), présenté à 6th French Network for Asian Studies International Conference (FNASIC), Sciences Po, Paris.
    Résumé : Several Asian governments have issued laws and policies to counter one of the more pervasive forms of gender discrimination today: the deliberate elimination of females before or shortly after birth due to a preference for sons. On the one hand, much headway has been done to challenge traditional hierarchies in the society through social, political and legal reforms. On the other hand, public policies and political discourse have played a significant role in inadvertently creating or reinforcing son preference, and thus have contributed to the persistence of condescending attitudes and practices towards girls. This presentation highlights the linkages between son preference, politics and policies in Asia. It draws from existing literature, policy file analysis, and semi-structured interviews conducted with policy makers during field research in South Korea, India and Vietnam between 2014 and 2015. While South Korea witnessed a near inversion of gender preferences within the last decade linked to social change and accompanied by legal reforms, son preference remains pervasive throughout different parts of India and Vietnam today. Gender equity laws and equal access to inheritance, property and linage create an enabling environment for women, but are often undermined through discriminatory attitudes and practices. Especially in India, political masculinities undermine government’s own efforts in challenging son preference.


  • Rahm Laura (2017) « La convergence des politiques de lutte contre la sélection sexuelle prénatale : Corée du Sud, Inde et Vietnam », Critique Internationale, 4 (77), p. 11-31. DOI : 10.3917/crii.077.0011. http://www.cairn.info/revue-critique-internationale-2017-4-page-11.htm.
    Résumé : Over the past 30 years several Asian countries - from Armenia to Vietnam - are facing sex imbalances at birth, favoring male offspring. Despite the social, economic and political diversity of these countries, their governments have implemented similar public policies to address the growing masculinization of their populations. These include legal bans, awareness raising campaigns and entitlements for girls. This paper explores the reasons for the convergence of public policy addressing sex selection, drawing from policy files and interviews conducted with policy makers, scholars, and representatives of international agencies in South Korea, India and Vietnam between 2014 and 2015. It finds that transnational communication and international harmonization - promoted by international organizations and epistemic communities - are the most important factors in explaining similar policies among diverse countries. International organizations led by UNFPA play a key role in collecting data and supporting interventions against sex selection, emphasizing evidence-based policy-making. Nevertheless, there is a tendency to internationally promote and transfer policies without being certain of their impact.

2016

2015

  • Rahm Laura (2015) « Policy and Sex Selection in Asia: a cross-country comparison » (communication orale), présenté à International Policy Dialogue on Prenatal Sex Selection, Heinrich Böll Foundation and Centre for Social Research, New Delhi.
  • Rahm Laura (2015) « Critical Assessment of Asian Population Policies from a Demographic and Gender Perspective » (communication orale), présenté à 5th Congress of Asian & the Pacific Studies, INALCO, Paris.
    Résumé : Population dynamics in Asia have become the center of attention across the globe. The result has been an urgency to examine the trajectory of population policies in Asia which are characterized by a shift from earlier coercive policies to a rights-based approach flag-shipped by the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994. The aim of the panel is to critically assess population dynamics in select Asian countries from a demographic and gender perspective. To what degree have policies shaped the demographics of their countries; to which extent do the policies promote gender justice? The panel brings together researchers from across countries and disciplines with a focus on declining sex ratio and gender-biased sex selection. The organization of the panel will be scalar, from the macro level of historical context to the micro level of local implementation. It will start with a theoretical and historic mapping of population policies, followed by an analysis of the recent demographic trends and masculinization of sex ratios. The panel will then critically assess particular policies and programs to counter sex selection from China to Vietnam, highlighting the significance and positioning of gender in them. An important aspect will be learning from the Korean "miracle", the only country that was able to balance skewed sex ratio at birth. Furthermore, discourses around gender-biased sex selection in India will be analyzed in order to capture dissonances, especially emerging from policy makers. The panel finally examines population policies from a feminist perspective - both in a local and global context. The panel unifies diverse methodological tools (normative, historical, quantitative and qualitative in nature) from various disciplines (demography, anthropology, law, sociology, political science) across different cultures and countries (China, India, South Korea, Vietnam). By doing so, we provide a multifaceted, scalar assessment of population policies, which will be able to unravel the nuances of the issue in a more holistic fashion than individual disciplines can. It will stimulate greater debate, inform policy choices and revitalize the policy terrain on how to effectively counter gender discrimination.
  • Rahm Laura (2015) « Political Masculinities in the Context of Asia's Missing Women » (communication orale), présenté à Political Masculinities and Social Transition, Landau.
    Résumé : Since the early 1980s, several Asian countries - from Armenia to Vietnam - have faced growing sex imbalances at birth due to gender-biased sex selection. There are common features in the political discourse surrounding this phenomenon casting demographic imbalance as a problem for men. In this case gender equality (at birth) becomes a means to satisfy male needs such as to provide marriage prospects and/or prevent perceived hazards (e.g. increase in crime, violence, homosexuality, political unrest). This kind of masculinized discourse reinforces exactly those gender biases it seeks to fix by treating gender equality as a means rather than as an end in and of itself. This paper will draws from multiple sources including public statements in newspapers, reports, and semi-structured interviews with key policy makers to capture gender dissonances in the policy discourse around sex selection. Special emphasis will be placed on data collected during the past 8-month field research in India, Vietnam and South Korea. Are there common characteristics of political masculinities during social transition that can be identified across cultures and times? The proposed paper aims to approach this question by providing a multi country comparison of political masculinities in the context of Asia’s missing women.
  • Rahm Laura (2015) « Do public policies normalize skewed sex ratio at birth? Insights from South Korea, India and Vietnam » (communication orale), présenté à Apports de la recherche aux politiques de population : Expériences, méthodes et nouvelles perspectives, CEPED, Paris.

2014


  • Rahm Laura (2014) « Fehlende Frauen », An.schlaege, avril. http://anschlaege.at/feminismus/2014/03/fehlende-frauen/.
    Mots-clés : missing women, sex selection, sex selective abortions.
  • Rahm Laura (2014) « Skewed Sex Ratio at Birth and Policy Response: Insights from selected Asian countries » (communication orale), présenté à Relations entre la population et le développement durable: l'expérience internationale et la situation au Vietnam premières décennies du siècle XXI, Hanoi.
    Résumé : Prenatal sex selection has become a critical public policy concern in Asia. The practice of selectively aborting female fetuses has resulted in a severe demographic shift towards masculinization with over 117 million “missing” women in Asia today. Known factors of sex selection correspond to entrenched son preference, low fertility and access to new sex selection technologies. Potential consequences include increases in human trafficking, violence against women, forced marriages, marriage migrations, and political unrest. The policy response has been in most countries quite belated for reasons related to the lack of statistical confirmation or to political reluctance. But China, India, Nepal, South Korea, and Vietnam have all banned sex selective abortions and sex determination. Yet, despite these bans, sex ratio at birth (SRB) has increased or remains high in these countries. Additional public policies have been introduced to alter the status of women (gender mainstreaming, equity laws) and increase the perceived value of daughters (conditional cash transfers). There is now a large gamut of policy initiatives related to prenatal sex selection introduced in various countries or regions, but limited evidence on their overall impact on SRB trends. The objectives of the communication are 1) to analyze the characteristics of policies targeted to reduce sex selection, and 2) to examine existing tools to assess their effectiveness.
  • Rahm Laura (2014) « Girls Wanted: The influence of public policies on prenatal sex selection. A PhD research presentation » (communication orale), présenté à RENCONTRE AVEC ITO PENG: Genre, care et politique sociale en Asie orientale, Atelier Doctorants et jeunes chercheurs du GIS Asie, Paris.
    Résumé : For over twenty years sex ratio at birth has been gradually rising in many Asian countries due to an increase in sex-selective abortions. Over 117 million women are “missing” in Asia today. There have been numerous debates about the lasting effects of this surplus of male births and future implications seem worrisome for the countries concerned. Many governments are trying to influence the demographics of their population to curb the high sex ratio that will affect their populations for decades to come. However, there is currently no in-depth analysis on how public policies affect prenatal sex selection. The PhD project aims at understanding the logic, the instruments and the impact of public policies against prenatal sex selection in selected Asian countries. Vietnam, India and South Korea serve as case studies for a comparative policy analysis. The guiding research question is: which public policies have been introduced and how effective have they been in curbing skewed sex ratio at birth? The project examines the instruments of population policies that were introduced over the last two decades to tackle sex selection, such as public campaigns, sex selection bans, women empowerment and gender mainstreaming programs, conditional cash transfers (CCTs) to families with girls. It also examines the strategy these instruments are based on along with the monitoring tools in place to evaluate their relative effectiveness (policy outcome). National demographics, namely sex ratio at birth (SRB) data from 1990 to today, are used for the quantitative analysis. The aim is to map policy initiatives and SRB trends to identify changes over time, pinpointing whether or not policies contributed to a decrease in SRB (impact). Semi-structured expert interviews with politicians, demographers, medical personal and representatives of international organizations give additional information highlighting strength and weaknesses of policies and their implementation. Up to date research suggests that sex selection bans and CCTs have shown limited success in curbing sex imbalances; more promising but long-term mechanisms are women empowerment and gender equity programs. Particular emphasis will be placed on the extent to which women's rights, monitoring of interventions and cooperation between the different parties (couples, medical community, NGOs and governments) need to be strengthened to ensure that public policies can effectively balance sex ratio at birth and prevent sex selection.
  • Rahm Laura (2014) « How effective are sex selection policies? » (communication orale), présenté à Sex imbalances: trends, interpretations and consequences, Paris.
  • Rahm Laura et Becquet Valentine (2014) « Public Policy Response to Sex Selection and Sex Imbalance in Asia with a special focus on Vietnam » (communication orale), présenté à Les politiques de population : Le Caire + 20, programme ARCUS, CERPOS, CEPED, IPSS (Université Paris 10 Nanterre), Nanterre.
    Résumé : Prenatal sex selection has become a critical public policy concern in Asia. The practice of selectively aborting female fetuses has resulted in a severe demographic shift towards masculinization with over 117 million “missing” women in Asia today. Known factors of sex selection correspond to entrenched son preference, low fertility and access to new sex selection technologies. Potential consequences include increases in human trafficking, violence against women, forced marriages, marriage migrations, and political unrest. The policy response has been in most countries quite belated for reasons related to the lack of statistical confirmation or to political reluctance. But China, India, Nepal, South Korea, and Vietnam have all banned sex selective abortions and sex determination. Yet, despite these bans, sex ratio at birth (SRB) has increased or remains high in these countries. Additional public policies have been introduced to alter the status of women (gender mainstreaming, equity laws) and increase the perceived value of daughters (conditional cash transfers). There is now a large gamut of policy initiatives related to prenatal sex selection introduced in various countries or regions, but limited evidence on their overall impact on SRB trends.
    Mots-clés : Asia, POLITIQUE PUBLIQUE, sex imbalances, sex ratio at birth, sex selection, Vietnam.

2012


  • Rahm Laura (2012) International Best Practices for the Prevention of Prenatal Sex Selection: Recommendations for Action for Armenia, UNFPA Report, Yerevan/Frankfurt : UNFPA Armenia, 30 p. http://unfpa.am/sites/default/files/Laura_Rahm-Best-Practices-Prevention-of-Prenatal-Sex-Selection.pdf.
    Résumé : As a contribution to the current research of UNFPA Armenia, this paper aims to identify best practices for the prevention of prenatal sex selection by examining previously successful instruments and campaigns internationally and then giving concrete recommendations for action in Armenia. It takes into consideration the specific notion of the phenomenon in Armenia as presented in the recent UNFPA report on “Prevalence of and Reasons for Sexselective Abortions in Armenia”. This research is based on interviews with representatives from international, governmental and nongovernmental organizations that deal with preventing sex-selective abortions. It is also based on a desk review and analysis of literature on the prevention of prenatal sex selection and normalization of skewed sex ratio at birth (SRB).
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