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Female foeticide is the most widespread method of gender selection. It is the act of aborting a foetus because it’s a female.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) this kind of ‘gender biased pre-natal sex selection’ is the cause for the more than 100 million girls ‘missing’ from the world largely from Asia but also from some countries in Eastern Europe and the Caucuses.

How can experts be sure about this?

The number of ‘missing’ girls is calculated by a statistical parameter called sex ratio at birth (SRB). This ratio measures the proportion of girls and boys born over a certain period of time.

The ratio at birth is the number of boys born every 100 girls in the same period of time. UN says the standard biological level is between 102 and 106.

According to the UNFPA for every 100 girls that are born, the number of boys born in a population should normally be between 102 - 106. This means that for every 100 girls born in a population, the number of boys born should range from 102 boys to 106 boys.

Anything above 106 indicates the number of males being born is higher than the biological average which suggests sex selection could be taking place.

The UNFPA's website on pre-natal sex selection lists some countries where this ratio is skewed, including China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, South Korea, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Albania and Montenegro.

UNFPA has also noted this ratio is abnormal in some parts of the Asian diaspora living in Europe and North America. 

To see if the practice has reached Australia, SBS commissioned data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showing registered births to Australian parents between the years 2003 and 2013, broken down by the country of birth of both the mother and father.

The minimum number of cases considered to be statistically significant is 40,000, according to the ABS. The births within the Chinese and Indian communities in this period of time exceed this requirement: 42,300 Chinese births and Indian 59,800 births.

In Australia there were 105.7 male children born for every 100 female children between 2003 and 2013. However, over the same period, the figures show the number of boys born compared to girls is unusually high for Australian parents who were born in China or India.

For Chinese-born Australians there were 109.5 sons born for every 100 girls. For parents born in India the ratio was 108.2 boys for each 100 baby girls.

The numbers suggest there are some 1,400 fewer female children than the Australian average over these 11 years born to the Indian and Chinese communities in Australia. 

Listen to Christophe Guilmoto (Demographer at the French Research Institute for Development in Paris and one of the authors of the 2012 UNFPA report on sex selection in Asia), Nick Parr (Associate Professor in Demography at Macquarie University) and Gour Dasvarma (Director of Applied Population Studies program at Flinders University).

They explain how each of them arrived to the approximate number of 1,400 girls not born because of the gender.