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Friday, 26 January, 2001, 15:42 GMT
Should India do more to stop female foeticide?
Doctors in India believe two million foetuses are killed every year through abortion, simply because they are female.
It's an illegal practice but with the increasing availability of sex determination tests it is virtually impossible to police.
With female infant mortality figures in India 40% higher than male and the proportion of females to males in India in steady decline for a century, there are some 50 million women "missing" in the population.
Should sex tests be allowed at all? Do they prolong a prejudice that has no place in modern society, or are they a kinder option than female infanticide?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Gender tests are unfortunate, but that is the only option people have. It is high time the politicians start thinking about population growth and the literacy rate. The only solution to this would be to increase literacy and let women decide what to do. Things are changing these days in urban society and the more educated women are, the better for India.
Men in India and other countries should be educated to accept girls as being the same as boys. Divorce and domestic violence due to the birth of a baby girl should be strongly punished by the authorities.
Sex tests should be banned in India and the country should do more to stop female foetocide. If everybody wants to have boys, who is going to marry them?
I think that making such practices illegal will tremendously increase illegal abortions and related life-threatening complications. The younger and educated generation of men has to take charge of their lives, refuse to accept dowry altogether and only then will this custom decline. No doubt equal rights and education of women are of paramount importance as well. A forced solution of such social evils is hardly ever successful.
Shankar, Indian in USA
Feudal traditions die with urbanisation,
education and industrialisation. In much of urban
India arranged marriages, caste-marriages and dowry are
slowly but surely declining among the middle classes. This is the
only way to prevent female infanticide. Banning
technology is bureaucratic stupidity. It's failure is assured
Female foeticide is a reprehensible act. It is tantamount to murder and must be discouraged at all costs and by all means.
The best thing to do is to make the women
who are choosing to have the abortions undergo
sterilisation as part of the procedure. People
who are that cruel shouldn't be having kids.
Your suggestion that female abortion may be 'a kinder option than female infanticide' is horrific. Both are methods of murder...kindness does not come into it. Since when have we started judging murderers on their level of kindness to their victims? The tests allow such people to commit their gross acts at an even earlier stage than before. Vetting controls should be put in place to protect these silent victims.
One should not be so pessimistic about this issue as Deepti. Social evils have been removed previously in India, and I hope that gender discrimination will be gone too. We need to be strong and should pass strong values on to the next generation.
Amrutha Gopal, UK/ India
Banning the tests will merely make them more expensive and drive them underground.
There should instead be a powerful and sustained media campaign against gender-selective abortion, generating a stigma against those who practise it.
India is an extremely male-dominated society.
So if everyone is desperate to have sons, so be it.
Better for the girls never to be born, rather than be discriminated against. And then all the men can live happily ever after.
The social fabric is continually spun in evolving patterns. As more and more from the younger generation go to the cities or abroad to work, the extended family structure will decay into the nuclear family model.
The South-Asian son, who is often times filled with filial duty, is unable to support his parents' past financial remittances due to his work.
In the wake of this evolution, parents will unfortunately have to come to terms with parting from their children - both sons and daughters, who either willingly or unwillingly find themselves ravelled in the nuclear family unit.
Daughters or sons, what's the difference if they're going to leave?
Agha Ata, USA
Gender tests should be restricted to the most extenuating circumstances such as danger to the lives of expectant mother and/ or child and banned for frivolous reasons. Gender tests have played a major role in female infanticide, which apart from being immoral and disgusting, promises to have disastrous sociological consequences.
Gender tests are an unfortunate example of the way that new technology can negatively influence society. There is a reason for the world population being 50% male and 50% female. Upsetting this delicate balance will prove to be a catastrophe!
Female infanticide is more cruel than
female genital mutilation, sexual abuse of
young children and very many
other similar barbaric social evils put
together. I was born and brought up in India
and I feel ashamed of my roots whenever the
topic of female infanticide comes up.
The only way to uproot this barbaric
social evil is to educate people (specially
those who are at the lower strata
of social order) and
have an open discussion on it.
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