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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Midweek News on India

Normally I'd be providing a midweek news roundup, probably talking about the new abortion legislation in Kansas or the bill that just sent to committee regarding sonograms in Texas. Instead, today I leave you with an excerpt from a New York Times article entitled, "A Campaign Against Girls in India." Gender-selective abortion in becoming a bigger issue by the day in India specifically and the outcome may be devastating. Here's the excerpt, but read the whole article:
The figures tell an old and cruel story: the systematic elimination of girls in India. In the 2001 census, the sex ratio — the number of girls to every 1,000 boys — was 927 in the 0-6 age group. Preliminary data from the 2011 census show that the imbalance has worsened, to 914 girls for every 1,000 boys.

Women’s groups have been documenting this particular brand of gender violence for years. The demographer Ashish Bose and the economist Amartya Sen drew attention to India’s missing women more than a decade ago. The abortion of female fetuses has increased as medical technology has made it easier to detect the sex of an unborn child. If it is a girl, families often pressure the pregnant woman to abort. Sex determination tests are illegal in India, but ultrasound and in vitro fertilization centers often bypass the law, and medical terminations of pregnancy are easily obtained.

Some women, like 30-year-old Lakshmi Rani from Bhiwani district in Uttar Pradesh, have been pressured into multiple abortions. Ms. Rani’s first three pregnancies were terminated.

“My mother-in-law took me to the clinic herself,” she said, her voice matter-of-fact but barely audible. “It wasn’t my decision, but I didn’t have a choice. They didn’t want girls.”

Now her husband’s family is pushing her to get pregnant again, and she is hoping for a boy. Despite government campaigns against aborting female fetuses, she does not believe she will be allowed a choice.

Ms. Rani’s story is echoed across Uttar Pradesh, a state that has among the most skewed sex ratios in India. Census figures show the female-male ratio in the 0-6 year group slipping from 916 in 2001 to 899 in 2011.

In a 2007 Unicef report, Alka Gupta explained part of the problem: Discrimination against women, already entrenched in Indian society, has been bolstered by technological developments that now allow mobile sex selection clinics to drive into almost any village or neighborhood unchecked.

The 1994 Preconception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Act was amended in 2003 to deal with the medical profession — the “supply side” of the practice of sex selection. However, the act has been poorly enforced.

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