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Why is Son Preference Common in Rural Pakistan?

image of Asian Journal of Social Science

Son preference persists in South Asian patrilineal and patriarchal societies where practices of sex-selective abortions are used to ensure the maximum number of male children. Such practices cannot be understood without analysing socio-economic conditions that foster son preference. This article highlights the strategic importance of sons in rural Pakistan by analysing 30 semi-structured interviews and three focus group discussions with women. I take into account the prevalent perception of men as breadwinners and argue that even if men do not fulfil this role, they are considered precious due to other factors, e.g., family’s future security, social protection and maintenance of kinship ties. The family faces the threat of discontinuity of lineage in the absence of a male child even if it has daughters. While the girl child is also useful for the family, particularly when she supports her mother, cultural and social expectations attached to the male child make him invaluable.

Affiliations: 1: Shah Abdul Latif University


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