Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Economic crisis and socio-political instability
are encouraging illegal selective abortions among Nepali families. In recent
days, Christian and Hindu religious leaders, doctors and pro-life activists
have appealed to the government to end a practice that is banned and punishable
under the law. Although official data do not exist, local sources are saying
that foreign social workers and organisations are taking advantage of the
country's political chaos to encourage selective abortions among the poorest
Abortion is legal in Nepal since 2002 in cases in which the life of the
woman or the child are in danger, in case of rape or if the woman is not in
full possession of her faculties. Selective or forced abortion is illegal.
In rural areas, many foreign NGOs have encouraged a culture of
contraception and voluntary sterilisation to fight poverty.
Since 2006, at least one woman in ten has had an abortion or used abortive
or contraceptive pills. Between 2001 and 2006, Nepal's fertility rate dropped
from 4.1 to 3.3.
Catholics and Protestants have tried to counter the use of sex-based abortion
and selective foeticide.
For Achala Baidhaya, a Christian physician, "abortion is a threat to
Nepali society." However, in many parts of the country, Hindus believe that
without boys, parents will not go to heaven," she explained.
Economic difficulties compound the situation, pushing families to go
through a selective abortion.
Suni Achrya, also a medical doctor, said that husbands often force their
wives to have a abortion.
Such a medical practices is often performed in facilities that are not
properly equipped, with harmful effects on women's health, both physical and
According to Rev K.B. Rokaya, a Protestant clergyman and human rights
activist, "abortion is a criminal practice that must be condemned. A child is a
gift of God and has a right to be born. The government must enforce the law and
introduce policies that help families."