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    » 02/04/2015, 00.00

    NEPAL - INDIA

    Female foeticides and selective abortions drop in Nepal

    Christopher Sharma

    The Indian Supreme Court bans Internet giants from carrying pre-natal sex selection ads. As a first consequence, under the influence of its big neighbour, the number of selective abortions in Nepal has dropped. Doctors working at clinics on the border have confirmed the decline by as much as 50 per cent. Every day, some 50,000 people cross the border for health-related visits, treatments and medical drugs.

    Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - The decision by the Indian Supreme Court to ban prenatal sex selection advertising has already had important consequences in India, as well as in neighbouring Nepal.

    A significant drop in female foeticides has been recorded in the two Asian countries, a practice that had become a major issue of concern because of the resulting gender imbalance in favour of males that it had created.

    The judges targeted Internet giants Yahoo!, Google and Microsoft's Bing, which were forced to remove advertising and content that promoted sex selection testing.

    The doctors who work in clinics along the Nepal-India border - more than 1,800 km in the south, east and west of Nepal - confirm that the number of patients seeking sex selection operations or abortions has declined.

    "After the removal of advertising that promoted abortion from search engines, customers dropped by 50 per cent," said Rajesh Kumar, owner of the Modern Medicine Clinic in Sunwal, a border town in Indian territory.

    Previously, at least five pregnant women came every week for a selective abortion, he said. In the last week, "only three visited us" and "all local clinics have registered a drop in operations".

    Dr S Gupta, a doctor in a clinic located between the towns of Rupaidiha (India) and Nepalgunj (Nepal), noted a "significant decline" in the number of "customers" who "come to us for sex selection or abortions".

    For Professor Mita Singh, the drop in selective abortions can be attributed "to the decision of the judges" of the Supreme Court of India, but also to the "growing awareness" of the importance and role of girls and women in society. In the past, "males were favoured over females" in the Hindu family, but today this "is gradually decreasing."

    Selective abortion is illegal in both India and Nepal but became widespread over time because families' preference for boys.

    In India, after banning ads promoting sex selection, the Supreme Court is set to provide additional guidelines in its upcoming session, on 11 February.

    In Nepal abortion has been legal since 2002 for cases in which the health of the mother or child is at risk, in cases of rape or if the woman is not of sound mind. Selective and forced abortions are illegal.

    Since 2006, at least one woman in ten has had an abortion or has used abortion or contraceptive pills. As a result, the country's fertility rate has dropped from 4.1 to 3.3 between 2001 and 2006.

    Thousands of Nepalis and Indians travel to border clinics for specialised visits or to purchase drugs. According to unofficial sources, at least 50,000 people cross the border every day between Nepal and India for health reasons.

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    See also

    26/11/2014 INDIA
    Indian Supreme Court calls for special incentives for families who give birth to baby girls
    The country's highest court calls for an end to the scourge of selective abortion and female foeticide, product of a patriarchal mind-set. Judges want stronger policies to stop the declining female birth rate. In some states, the sex ratio can be as low as 800-900 baby girls per 1,000 baby boys.

    21/06/2012 INDIA
    Stop female foeticide, reject abortion, says Mgr Gracias
    The auxiliary bishop of Mumbai speaks about a case in Beed District (Maharashtra), where police discovered aborted female foetuses, including one in the eighth month of pregnancy. Similar cases have been reported across the state. Now police is investigating hundreds of women and targeting shady clinics.

    27/02/2015 NEPAL
    Nepal's Supreme Court rules against civil war amnesty
    The court struck down the amnesty provisions of a law favourable to those who committed serious human rights abuses during the civil war. The government promises to respect the court's decision. Between 1996 and 2006, more than 17,000 people were killed, 1,300 disappeared. Thousands more were displaced.

    02/03/2013 NEPAL
    Nepal appoints a prime minister who can not govern
    Khilaraj Regmi, chairman of the Supreme Court, will not take office until March 7. The two posts are incompatible and his appointment is unconstitutional. June 5 elections at risk.

    31/08/2009 NEPAL
    Supreme Court against vice president who refuses oath of office in Nepali
    Parmananda Jha took his oath of office in Hindi. The Supreme Court has ruled it was unlawful, demanding he retake it in Nepali or resign.



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