Kiling millions of baby girls?

Topic started by manidan (@ on Fri Feb 7 22:40:25 .
All times in EST +10:30 for IST.

By V.k. Raghunathan,4386,170522,00.html?
NEW DELHI - Indians' preference for sons over daughters leads to millions of baby girls being killed each year, either in their infancy or in the womb.

INDIA'S UNWANTED SEX: There are now fewer girls than boys, no thanks to infanticide in India.
According to official estimates, two million abortions are conducted every year in India.

Some doctors, however, say the figure could be around five million.

But even more shocking are gruesome reports of how thousands of baby girls are killed each year by milk laced with poison.

Such cases of infanticide have been well documented in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, where the government has started a 'cradle' scheme. Unwanted babies could be left in cradles kept outside orphanages and the state would take care of them.

Infanticide is also prevalent in other parts of the country, according to non-governmental organisations.

There are even reports of villages in the northern state of Rajasthan not seeing the birth of a girl in decades.

The Indian government's campaign that 'a happy girl is the future of our country' has apparently failed to reach the masses.

In a country where women play a prominent role in every walk of life, there are people who still see daughters as an economic burden.

This is because, traditionally, parents have to stock up on gold ornaments and cash for their daughters' dowries and weddings. A son is the preferred choice in India's male-dominated society as he is entitled to his wife's dowry and responsible for looking after his parents in their old age.

The daughter, on the other hand, has to live with her husband and look after her in-laws after marriage.

The advent of new technology, normally welcomed as a boon, has added to the problem in this case.

Pre-natal scans that monitor the health of the foetus are being used to identify the child's gender so that parents can decide whether to have an abortion.

According to the Census 2001 - the national census held every 10 years - the child sex ratio dropped to 927 girls for every 1,000 boys born between 1991 and 2001.

In the decade covered by the 1991 census, the ratio was 945 girls for every 1,000 boys.

This drop is seen as a clear indicator that female foeticide and infanticide have become increasingly widespread.

'The census has brought the cat out of the bag,' federal Family Welfare Secretary J.V.R. Prasada Rao told a workshop held to discuss the issue last week.

'At no point in time has the drop in the juvenile sex ratio been so sharp as in 2001,' he was quoted by The Hindu newspaper as having said.

In the more developed Punjab state in the north, only 793 girls were born for every 1,000 boys - a drastic drop from 875 girls in 1991.

In New Delhi, too, the child sex ratio dropped from 915 girls for every 1,000 boys in 1991 to 865 in 2001.

Tamil Nadu's child sex ratio, which was 948 girls per 1,000 boys a decade ago, dropped to 939 in 2001.

This is despite the various safeguards against female foeticide and infanticide put in place by the federal government.

Among them are laws that forbid the abortion of female foetuses and prescribe stringent punishment for the crime.

There is, for instance, the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Tests (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act to prevent even the identification of a baby's sex before birth.

Former Supreme Court judge V.R. Krishna Iyer said an unborn child had the same rights as a child that has been born.

But the authorities are facing tremendous difficulties in the enforcement of the laws at the state level.

This is because there is money to be made for each illicit ultrasound scan and more to be pocketed with each illegal abortion.

Unless the mindset of parents changes, there will be no end to the millions of unlawful abortions carried out in private clinics and even hospitals every year.


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