India: Looking for the missing girls

The BBC had an article on a report in the Lancet Journal about India which stated that prenatal selection and selective abortion was causing the loss of 500,000 girls a year. We've always known that preference for a male child has meant that girls do not get as good an education, diet or opportunity as their male siblings, however the sheer number of sex-selective abortions is staggering. While India is the country in question, the problem extends to the rest of South Asia as well.

Sepia Mutiny links to the article and there is an excellent discussion via comments on the post. What is interesting is that somewhere the discussion turns to the Pro-Choice argument, and a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy as it seems to clash with the ban on sex-selective abortions. Uma at IndianWriting adds more information to the discussion by linking to some statistics on the sex ratios around the world.

Pickled Politics has an excellent post on the issue.

It’s worth noting that many hospitals in the UK, America and Canada (amongst others) have opted to deny prospective parents information about the sex of their baby. Of course, living in the West it isn’t hard to find someone who will carry out a test. Several of the UK and Canadian centres have specifically mentioned Asian communities as the reason for their decisions to stop screening for sex.

Meanwhile, an active discussion is also ongoing at the LiveJournal Feminist Community on the same issue with emphasis on the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life aspects. As a generous plug, I have a post on this issue as well at Within / Without. There's quite a lot of discussion at the celebrity IntentBlog.

What is sad is that education actually increased the abortion rate… Is this linked to more access to ultrasounds? Probably so. The report mentions socio-economic factors, but notes religion didnt make a difference.


  • From the cultural point of view this is very interesting, but it is totally awful and sad from every other angle. I am going to read the blogs you suggest, thank you!

  • The use of ultrasound equipment to determine the sex of an unborn child – introduced to India in 1979 – has now spread to every district in the country. The study found it played a crucial role in thetermination of an estimated 10 million female fetuses in the two decades leading up to 1998, and 5 million since 1994, the year the practice was banned. Few doctors in regular clinics offer the service openly, but activists estimate that sex-selection is a $100 million business in India, largely through mobile sex-selection clinics that can drive into almost any village or neighborhood.

  • I am so thrilled and honored as being included in Global voices. Thanks a lot.

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