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  • » 11/26/2014, 00.00


    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.

    New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Supreme Court of India has called on state governments to provide incentives to families to help them accept and raise baby girls, thus preventing selective abortion and female foeticide.

    India's highest court issued a statement to this effect after hearing a 2006 Public Interest Litigation (PIL) case filed by the Voluntary Health Association, which began following the discovery of 15 female foetuses in a well near a private clinic in the state of Punjab.

    In its release, the court asserted that a "female child had as much right to live as a male child and that state governments must make all endeavour to spread awareness among the families."

    Expressing "serious concern" over the country's skewed sex ratio, the judges noted that one of the reasons why "the female foeticide is still widespread" is the failure of the central and state governments to monitor hospitals and diagnostic centres.

    The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act has been in place since 1994. Since then, sex determination tests have been banned. Violators can be jailed from six months to five years, plus a fine and licence suspension (or loss). However, despite the legislation, many doctors and couples who want boys disregard the law.

    Selective abortions and female foeticide are the tragic result of India's patriarchal mind-set and an archaic but still dominant culture that prefers boys over girls. This, combined with the traditional dowry system, belittles the status and role of women in society, thus making girls an economic "burden" on families.

    As part of its action, the Supreme Court set up a committee with officials from the Health and Family Welfare Ministry to examine the latest sex ratio data.

    The first states that have to provide figures (by 10 December 2014) are Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana. The Court was not satisfied with data furnished by these states.

    In its affidavit, the Uttar Pradesh government said the state's overall child sex ratio was 919. But in some districts, such as Agra, Mathura, Firozabad and Aligarh, the figure hovered around 800-850 females per 1,000 males.

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    See also

    10/07/2008 VIETNAM
    Skewed birth ratios raise fears of social crisis in Vietnam
    In the last few years baby boys have outnumbered baby girls. Foetal selection and the traditional preference for boys are causing profound transformations. In the future the sex ratio at birth might be 123 to 100 in favour of males.

    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.

    04/02/2015 NEPAL - INDIA
    Female foeticides and selective abortions drop in Nepal
    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.

    24/04/2012 INDIA
    Gujarat: forced to abort by her husband six times, they were all female fetuses
    The husband and his family were "dissatisfied". The woman, 36, has denounced them and the doctors. A network of clandestine clinics uncovered, the government has already withdrawn the licenses of two gynecologists. Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life: "The female sex-selective abortions are altering the Indian population."

    27/07/2013 INDIA
    Gujarat: 12,000 baby girls killed in the state's cities
    In urban areas, the number of deaths for girls under one year of age is 12,325 against 8,076 for boys. In rural areas, the gap is more balanced. For the director of a Jesuit centre for human rights, this is due to a patriarchal outlook, which continues to prefer sons over daughters and favours selective abortions and female infanticide.

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