India’s Gender Ratio Getting Worse as Sex-Selection Abortions Continue

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 13, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

India’s Gender Ratio Getting Worse as Sex-Selection Abortions Continue Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 13,

New Delhi, India ( — The gender ratio in India is growing worse as sex-selection abortions and infanticides continue in the Asian nation, a new report reveals. Officials there have been working overtime to try to halt the practices, but the illegal use of ultrasounds continues and is allowing parents to kill unwanted girl babies.

Researchers from relief group ActionAid examined a sample of 6,500 households in the Indian states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

They found that the male-female ratio grew worse in four of the states compared with the figures from 2001.

According to a Reuters report, upper class Hindu areas of Punjab’s Fatehgarh Sahib district had the worst rates as the organization found only 300 girls for every 1,000 boys living there.

"These sex ratios are disastrous," Mary John, a researcher from the Centre for Women Development Studies in New Delhi, told Reuters.

She said the new numbers reflect a trend of having smaller families. Couples are choosing to have only one child and deciding to only have a boy. India follows the beliefs of other Asian nations in favoring boys to carry on work and family names and because girls must have expensive dowries upon their marriage.

John said the skewed gender ratios occurred in virtually every community regardless of socioeconomic status, race or religion.

She said that, even in poor communities, families would rather pay two months’ salary for an illegal ultrasound and abortion rather than years’ worth of income on expensive dowries.

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 is 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.