India’s Hindu Priests Under Fire for Exacerbating Sex-Selection Abortions

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 15, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

India’s Hindu Priests Under Fire for Exacerbating Sex-Selection Abortions Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 15
, 2006

New Delhi, India ( — India’s Hindu priests are under fire from authorities who are trying to address the abundance of sex-selection abortions and infanticides there. The criticism comes just days after a new report by UNICEF indicating 7,000 fewer female babies are born every day because parents can determine the sex of their unborn baby and kill her before birth.

A representative of the India government said the priests could be seen as helping to skew the male-female ratio by giving blessings that promote a preference for sons.

In a nation where cultural preferences favor boys already, a typical blessing of "May you be the mother of a hundred sons" could easily be seen by women as opposing the birth of girl babies.

Renuka Chowdhury, minister for women and child development, told AFP that "the problem is very serious and is part of the deep mindset in India."

"They have to stop giving blessings about sons," Chowdhury said. "They should bless couples with healthy children."

The new UNICEF report shows that, in 80 percent of India’s districts, a higher percentage of boys are born now than a decade ago.

The report cites the increased availability of cheap ultrasound technology as playing a role despite attempts by the India government to crack down on its use.

UNICEF says the resulting gender imbalance from sex selection abortions is particularly prevalent in the wealthier regions of the nation where access to the ultrasound technology easier.

UNICEF based the findings on Indian census data and they follow a report earlier this year from the British medical journal Lancet, which estimated that 10 million baby girls have probably been aborted in the last 20 years.

The new report shows a severe gender imbalance with 799 girls born in 2001 for every thousand boys in the wealthier northern state of Punjab, down from 875 in 1991. The neighboring state of Haryana saw the ratio drop from 879 to 823.

The results show that a 1994 law prohibiting the use of ultrasounds to determine the sex of a baby for non-medical reasons is not working, even though the Indian government has announced several recent arrests in a renew effort to enforce the law.