by Steven Ertelt
February 19, 2007
Mumbai, India (LifeNews.com) — The central government in India has launched a new "cradle campaign" aimed at reducing the number of sex-selection abortions and female infanticides that have ravaged the population of girls in the Asian nation. The nation faces a problematic male-female gender ratio that is causing a host of social problems.
In a nation where cultural preferences favor boys, some Indian states such as Punjab and Haryana face male-female ratios as low as 799 girls born for every 1,000 boys.
The new campaign places a cradle outside every government district headquarters to encourage parents to not abort their baby girls and to give them up to the sate instead.
It coincides with the opening of centers were parents can leave their unwnted children rather than killing them via abortion or infanticide.
The plan will be implemented by the ministry for women and child development in collaboration with local governments.
Renuka Chowdhury, minister for women and child development, told Asia News about it.
“We want to put a cradle or palna in every district headquarters to tell parents to have their children and leave them to us," she said.
"Don’t kill your children because there really is a crisis situation. It doesn’t matter if the scheme encourages more abandoned children. It is better than killing them," Chowdhury added, responding to those worried about the abandonment of newborns.
The new program has the strong support of the Catholic Church in India and the archbishop of Mumbai called it a “continuation of the work of the Church for life."
Archbishop Oswald Gracias of Mumbai said the government plan was a continuation of the “good work being done by the Church."
He told Asia News he appreciated the initiative of cradles to protect little girls “because in our social context, strong gender discrimination persists.”
“The Indian Church has been working on this front for decades: the sisters of Mother Teresa and other religious congregations accept unwanted babies, keeping a cradle outside the door of their institutions," Archbishop Gracias added.
He said the program would go hand in hand with efforts the church undertakes.
"We make accessible orphanages, day care centers and hostels where infants can be taken care or and brought up with tender loving care," he said.
Last December, a new report by UNICEF indicated 7,000 fewer female babies are born every day because parents can determine the sex of their unborn baby and kill her before birth. 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 in early 2006 from the British medical journal Lancet, which estimated that 10 million baby girls have probably been aborted in the last 20 years.
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.