Female foeticide rampant in some parts of India
Summary of story from BBC, May 23, 2011
India’s 2011 census shows a serious decline in the number of girls under the age of seven (see WVoN story).
Activists fear eight million female foetuses may have been aborted in the past decade. Campaigners say the decline is largely due to the increased availability of antenatal sex screening, and they talk of a genocide.
There are now over 40,000 registered ultrasound clinics in the country, and many more exist without any record.
They all outwardly claim they do not perform illegal abortions. For a price, however, anyone who wants it done has it done.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described female foeticide and infanticide as a “national shame” and called for a “crusade” to save girl babies.
Although sex selective abortion has been illegal since 1994, there has been absolutely no resolve on the part of the government to stop it, says Varsha Joshi, director of census operations for Delhi.
Joshi, a former district commissioner of south-west Delhi, says there are dozens of ultrasound clinics in the area. It has the worst child sex ratio in the capital – 836 girls under seven for every 1,000 boys.
Delhi is not alone in its anti-girl bias. Sex ratios have declined in 17 states in the past decade, with the biggest falls registered in Jammu and Kashmir.
Pregnant women are often abused and forced by their husbands and in-laws to have an ultrasound and an abortion if they are expecting a girl. Sons are preferred as they will continue the lineage forward and will bring in dowries.
Even though India outlawed dowries in 1961, the practice is still rampant and the value of it is constantly increasing, putting a pressure on rich and poor alike.
Joshi says most offenders are members of the growing middle-class and affluent Indians – they are aware that the technology exists and have the means to pay to find out the sex of their baby and abort if they choose.
One of the most prominent campaigners in the field, Sabu George, said that effective measures need to be taken against doctors who promote sex determination.
“Otherwise by 2021, we are frightened to think what it will be like”, he concluded.