A government health official in India recently gave a passionate speech about protecting baby girls from sex-selection abortions and infanticide.
The targeting of young girls for sex-selection abortions has become a national crisis in India where males vastly outnumber females. Government leaders have been working to crack down on the discriminatory practice, but unborn girls continue to be targeted.
During a recent healthcare summit in the state of Rajasthan, India, state health official Naveen Jain explained how his office devotes a lot of its efforts to ending sex-selection abortions, according to eHealth Magazine.
“When I joined this department, I never thought that we will make female foeticide our core issue,” Jain said.
While working legally to shut down facilities and doctors that perform sex-selection abortions, Jain said the department also is trying to educate people culturally about the value of girls and of unborn babies in general.
Usually, people think that the abortion does not kill anybody as there is no life in the foetus in the first few months of its development. But it is a myth. We all should know that a three-month-old foetus is a complete child in itself. It only needs to grow further. However, this truth is not known to the people. I, therefore, believe that abortion is equivalent to murder. A three month old foetus can feel pain. It can feel tickling and responds to it.
The gender imbalance in India is one of the worst in the world. The 2011 India census data indicates there were 914 girls for every 1,000 boys under age 7, according to the BBC. In some parts of the country, the population imbalance was even worse. In the state of Tiruvannamalai, men outnumbered women at a ratio of 1,000 to 878.
Jain said he knows that the laws are not enough: Cultural attitudes need to change, and he believes everyone in India can help end the pervasive discrimination.
He described how he talks to families about their daughters:
When I ask people that why they think that daughters should not be born and then I try to break their myths one by one. I believe that those people who think that the problem of female foeticide is not their own, will soon realise through this campaign that they could have stopped it or do something about it.
We work in two ways — we enforce law as well as create awareness among people. We may be confiscating the medical equipment involved in female foeticide, but we need to think that the demand for them is coming from the people and that’s why they are able to operate in the market.
An ideal situation would be that a man with a sex determination machine is inviting people to use it but people are saying that we don’t want to do it. Therefore, enforcement and awareness should go hand in hand.
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Like Jain, many Indian government leaders have been trying to crack down on the discriminatory practices in different ways. Sex-selection abortions and tests to determine the baby’s sex are illegal in India. In 2015, some of the nation’s leaders also put together creative social campaigns to promote the value of girls and discourage gender discrimination.
However, women continue to report harrowing abuses from their husbands and families when they conceive girls.
Last year, LifeNews reported a gruesome case where an Indian woman’s in-laws allegedly poured gas on her and tried to set her on fire because they believed she was pregnant with a girl. In March, another woman died along with her unborn baby girl after a forced, sex-selection abortion in India.
A third woman, Parveen Khan, recently described to Al Jazeera how her husband brutally abused her and bit off part of her nose because he was angry that she did not conceive a son. She said her husband also forced her to abort two of her unborn daughters.
Al Jazeera reports a recent report from the Indian Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation predicted an even greater gender imbalance in the next two decades, dropping from 1,000 boys to 904 girls by 2021 to 898 by 2031.
Sex selection abortions are legal in most of the United States.