Nepal Sees Same Sex-Selection Abortion, Infanticide Problems as India
by Steven Ertelt
August 14, 2007
Katmandu, Nepal (LifeNews.com) — The Asian nation of Nepal is facing some of the same sex-selection abortion and female infanticide problems as its neighbor India. The problems come as a result of cultural preferences for boys and girl babies become victims after their sex is determined using an ultrasound machine.
Many families in the mountainous country prefer boys because they can carry on the family name and cultural heritage of the parents.
India prohibits the use of ultrasound machines for non-medical purposes though a black market has sprung up where couples can pay to know the gender of their baby.
Nepal may need to undertake the same sort of campaign to prohibit gender discrimination because, as the Kantipur newspaper reports, hundreds of sex-selection abortions are happening.
The newspaper says many of the couples are using the ultrasounds because they have already had a girl baby and want a boy in a subsequent pregnancy.
"If the sex of the child is determined to be a female through ultrasound, then the pregnancies are aborted," Dr. Pushpa Mani Kharalas told the newspaper. "About 100 such abortions are carried out in Katmandu Valley alone."
Abortion was legalized in Nepal in 2002 through the 12th week of pregnancy and 18 weeks if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. But, technically, sex-selection abortions are illegal there.
India culture also values males above females and the targeting of girl babies has produced a startling gender ratio that is already causing societal problems. Ironically, girls form Nepal are being sexually trafficked into India and sold into marriage because some regions of India have too few girls as a result of decades of gender discrimination.
As many as 6 to 10 million girls have been aborted in India in the last twenty years according to India officials and media estimates.
Dr. Narendra Saini, spokesman for the Indian Medical Association, says that the use of ultrasound to detect the gender of an unborn child for purposes of an abortion has waned since the Indian government started a crackdown on it in 2001.
Nepalese officials may begin undertaking similar measures to prevent an abnormal male-female ratio and to curb the abortions and infanticides.