China is designing new rules to stop parents from aborting female fetuses, the BBC reports. Parents are currently allowed only one child and often abort girls, worried that they won't be able to support the family. This back-room practice is creating a growing gender imbalance: Now Beijing plans stricter punishments on doctors and parents who engage in the illegal abortions.
The one-child policy coupled with a cultural preference for males has taken its toll. Ninety-nine cities have a gender imbalance above 125 boys for every 100 girls. "The root cause is traditional thinking that boys are better than girls, especially in poverty-stricken areas," said one expert. China is worried that the shortage of wives will lead to social problems and more violence among men.