As Incomes Rise in India Fewer Girls are Born Because of Sex-Selection Abortions

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Dec 21, 2016   |   4:18PM   |   Washington, DC

A new government report suggests that India’s rising income levels are not helping to protect girls from abortion and infanticide.

Cultural preferences for male children have led to unnatural male-to-female population ratios in India, China and other Asian countries. Sex-selection abortions are illegal in India, but they still occur. In 2014, the gender ratio in India was 1,000 boys for every 887 girls, according to the report from the Census of India.

Contrary to what some may assume, wealth, not poverty, may be linked to the gender discrimination. An analysis of the data by India Spend found that the per capita income in India rose nearly 10 times at the same time as the ratio of boys to girls dropped.

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According to the report:

India’s sex ratio at birth–the number of girls born alive for every 1,000 boys–declined over the last 65 years from 946 to 887 even as per capita income increased nearly 10 times, according to recently released government data.

India’s child sex ratio, or the number of girls below six per 1,000 boys, too has declined over the years. In 2011, it stood at 914–the lowest since Independence (1947).

The analysis found that the wealthiest states in India tended to have the most disproportionate ratios of boys to girls. For example, Delhi has the second highest per capita income but its ratio of boys to girls is 1,000 to 896, according to the report.

According to the report, one explanation could be that families with more money can afford ultrasounds and tests to determine whether the unborn baby is a boy or girl.

A March 2010 article in the “Economist” also pointed out: “Modernisation and rising incomes make it easier and more desirable to select the sex of your children. And on top of that, smaller families combine with greater wealth to reinforce the imperative to produce a son.”

In August, the New Indian Express reported about police raid of an illegal abortion practice where sex-selection abortions appeared to be going on. When authorities entered the building, they noted that all three of the unborn babies who were aborted that day were girls, according to the report.

The illegal practice, run by a couple and their son, covertly brought women to their three-story home where the women paid a small fee of 5,000 rupees (about $75) for a scan, possibly to determine the sex of the child, and then another 7,000 rupees (about $105) for the abortion, according to the report.

Sometimes women are coerced or forced to have sex-selection abortions, often by relatives. In September, LifeNews reported about a gruesome case where a 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.

Gender discrimination has become such a huge problem in India that doctors are prohibited from telling parents the sex of their unborn baby. Some of the nation’s leaders also have put together creative social campaigns to promote the value of girls and discourage gender discrimination.

The targeting of girls in sex-selection abortions and infanticide has become a global problem. Evidence suggests that they also occurring in the U.S. and Europe.