The gender imbalance has grown so severe that a team of pregnant Indian women went undercover to help expose sex-selection abortion practices ravaging their country. According to India’s 2011 census, the gap between boys and girls born in India has grown even wider in the last decade. The Times of India reported:
India’s gender imbalance has grown even as the country has witnessed strong economic growth. The 2011 census showed 914 girls for every 1,000 boys younger than 6. That was a drop from 927 girls for every 1,000 boys a decade previously.
The growing imbalance in the last decade is even more disconcerting given the fact that India has had a law in place for almost ten years which bans sex-selection abortions (the abortion of, primarily, female children just because they are girls). To combat the issue, and to help expose physicians and clinics who aid and abet the practice of sex-selection in India, pregnant women have posed as women with a boy preference, requesting abortions when diagnostic centers have determined that their fetus is female. The Daily Beast explained the operation, saying:
A few brave women in Rajasthan, India, have put their lives—and unborn babies—at risk by going undercover in diagnostic centers to catch clinicians breaking the country’s 1994 federal law against women who abort babies based on their gender, known as sex-selective abortion. These pregnant women volunteers undergo a sonogram and pretend to want an abortion if the baby is female. If the clinic agrees, they serve as witnesses against the practitioner in court hearings.
The investigation is just a start, so far having only taken place in the state of Rajasthan. However, the case has yielded explosive results. According to WomensNews.org, the number of cases filed under the sex-selection law in Rajasthan has shot up more than ten-fold:
Before 2010, 54 cases had been filed under the sex-selection law for the entire state. By July, that number had reached 562. The Rajasthan Medical Council has suspended 23 doctors’ licenses and brought charges against 153 medical practitioners, the highest of any state in the country.
The article goes on to explain the risks that these brave women faced by volunteering to participate in the investigation. In the interim between the filing of charges and the court proceedings, women face the possibility of being bribed or threatened by the accused to dissuade them from testifying. One pregnant woman who participated in the investigation said,
There was some opposition from my family because such operations have a high element of risk. After I explained how this would impact positively on the lives of unborn girls, they supported me.
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It is simply concern for the female portion of the population that has prompted the brave undertaking. Far from rallying for equal pay or personal rights for women, the Indian operation is fighting for something much more fundamental for females in their country: The “right to be born.” Rajan Choudhury, head of Shikshit Rozgar Kendra Prabandhak Samiti, an organization which has collaborated to conduct fifteen state inspections, said:
Since the child sex ratio has also declined in the rural areas, we are trying to encourage ordinary people to become involved in the campaign to give girls their right to be born.