We ask if the patriarchal mindset that runs
across castes and class can be changed to
prevent foeticide and infanticide.
Supreme Court judges in India have
summoned the health secretaries in seven
states over a worrying fall in the number of
young girls in India.
They are demanding details about clinics
flouting the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal
Diagnostic Techniques Act – to determine the
sex of unborn babies – with potentially fatal
The judges are blaming what they call
rampant foeticide and infanticide, and they
say the mindset of parents and society need
The UN children's charity UNICEF says the
culture of favouring males in India is costing
the lives of millions of young girls.
The agency says more than 2,000 illegal
abortions are being carried out every single
day, and it is dramatically altering the
balance of the population.
It warns: "Decades of sex determination tests
and female foeticide that has acquired
proportions are finally catching up with
states in India. This is only the tip if the
demographic and social problems confronting
India in the coming years."
Speaking in April 2011, Manmohan Singh, the
Indian prime minister, called for a crusade
against the widespread practice of foeticide
"The falling child sex ratio is an indictment of
our social values. Our girls and women have
done us proud in classrooms, in boardrooms
and on the sports field. It is a national shame
for us that despite this, female foeticide and
The 1991 Indian census showed there were
945 girls for every 1,000 boys, aged up to
six. Ten years later, it dipped even further to
just 914 girls for every 1,000 boys.
But that is just the average. The figures are
far worse in some states.
The 2011 census found there were 830 girls
for every 1,000 boys in the northern state of
Haryana. It was 846 in neighbouring Punjab
state. And in the national capital territory of
Delhi the figure was 866.
India has very strict abortion laws. Until
1971, terminating pregnancies was only
allowed if the mother's life was at risk. Other
exceptions were then allowed: for fetuses
with potential birth defects; for babies
conceived through rape; and for pregnancies
in unmarried girls below 18.
In 1994 the government passed a new law
making it illegal to use ultrasound scans to
determine the sex of the baby – a crime
carrying a jail term of up to three years.
So what needs to be done to change the
centuries-old mindset of favouring boys?
Joining the Inside Story discussion with
presenter Shiulie Ghosh are guests: Mitu
Khurana, a pediatrician and a women's rights
activist; Suhas Chakma, the director of the
Asian Centre for Human Rights; Sadanand
Dhume, a journalist/writer and a resident
fellow of the American Enterprise Institute.
"The root cause is the dowry system where a
girl who is born is seen as a burden for the
family … the question is how does one
enforce the law. The Medical Council of India
is supposed to supervise the work done by
the doctors [but] it has not suspended anyone
to date for violations of ethical guidelines."
Suhas Chakma, the director of the Asian
Centre for Human Rights
The fate of female children in India:
Female infanticide is the act of deliberately
killing bay girls
Determining the sex of unborn babies is
illegal in India
Financial reasons are often behind female
An estimated 500,000 female fetuses are
aborted every year, according to the Lancet
ActionAid says the law to determine the sex
of an unborn child is not being enforced, and
that not enough was being done to change
the culture favouring boys
The UN estimates that 2,000 female foetuses
are being aborted every day
source - http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2013/01/20131117433572851.html