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Monday, 25 June, 2001, 03:43 GMT 04:43 UK
Indian drive against aborting female foetuses

Senior religious figures in India have joined efforts by medical professionals, politicians and women's activists to stem the growing trend of aborting female foetuses.

At a gathering in Delhi, a leading Hindu monk the Jagatguru of Kanchi called the practice 'a crime against humanity'; others blamed family pressures and the tradition of dowry.

The meeting, organised by Unicef, the Indian Medical Association and the National Commission of Women - was attended by leaders from all major faiths whose influence, it is hoped, could help curb the trend.

A study published in January estimated that about five million abortions involving female foetuses take place in India every year.

Experts blame the misuse of advanced medical technology such as ultrasound to detect the sex of unborn babies.

Statistics indicate there are now on average only 933 women for every 1,000 males in India.

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