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Sex-Selective Abortion Rises in India

According to the 2011 India census, the country continues to have a disproportionate rate of abortions of female fetuses. For every 1,000 male children under the age six, there are only 914 girls. Malnourishment and the neglect of girls also contribute to this unequal sex ratio. This is the largest imbalance between boys and girls since the country gained its independence in 1947.

Sandeep Chachra, executive director of ActionAid India, stated “This confirms our worst fears. Something that we and many others have been warning about for several years now, it is a shame for the entire country. It is time to move away from patchy responses and look at the larger picture to evolve a stronger strategy to change the status quo.” According to a 2007 study published by ActionAid India, sex-selective abortions occur more frequently in wealthy areas, among high-caste people, which discredits the argument that parents seek sex-selective abortions solely due to the cost of dowries for their daughters.

Although in 1994 the India government prohibited the use of sonograms to reveal the sex of the fetus, laws and government initiatives have had little effect at reducing the sex disparity. Ravinder Kaur, Sociology professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, clarified, “in a society that values boys over girls,” laws to prevent sex-selective abortions are of limited value.

Sources:

National Partnership for Women and Families 5/6/11; Associated Press 5/4/11; ActionAid India 4/1/11

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