Sunday, 19 October 2008

Selective abortion by gender

Whilst there is a law against Dowries in India, the social convention and pressure on the Indian People to pay dowries for families wanting to find a good home for their daughters has led to families with sons becoming richer and families with daughters becoming poorer.

This, in turn, has led to technology such as ultrasound scanners for checking on the health of unborn children, to be abused. There is now a whole industry in India providing selective abortion by gender.

The population in India is being skewed towards males with only 37.1% of births being female in one district, Daman, as a result of an estimated 10 million female abortions overall since 1985.

This Southbeach model illustrates the situation described in the Washington Post in this article of 2006:

and further in the Guardian in 2008, reporting on the situation being so critical now that the Indian Government are offering to pay poor families to give birth to and bring up female children:

Pregnancy leads to a son or daughter. Sons provide for the family and look after their parents when they grow old, compensating for the lack of a social security program in India. Sons also receive a dowry when they marry, whereas families with daughters have to pay a dowry. This often results in poor families taking out loans which then take up to a year to repay. Some families with multiple daughters are effectively bankrupt by the marriage of their daughters.

The Indian Government passed a law against dowries some time ago. However, this is widely ignored due to the social convention and pressure to pay dowries by families wanting a good home for their daughters.

This situation has led to a low risk, high profile business for doctors, who make a lot of money out of combined ultrasound and abortion packages, with advertisements such as "Spend 600 Rupees now, save 50,000 Rupees later" creating a trend of Mass female foeticide.

The Indian Government is now attempting to correct this harmful trend by offering to pay families to give birth to and bring up female children. They are expecting to save 100,000 girls in the first year.

Whilst this reaction to the problem may result in fewer female abortions, it is creating a new market based on paying for life where poor families can now receive additional benefit from the government if they bring a female child into the world which they cannot support.

This is a problem that is spiralling out of control with increasingly impactful false solutions that threaten to destabilise the whole society.

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