Gender-selective abortion in India continues to claim more victims
Photo by Frank Holleman on Unsplash
On March 4, 2010, The Economist released one of its most memorable covers: an all-black page except for a pair of tiny pink shoes with frilly bows at the bottom. The title was “Gendercides: What Happened to 100 Million Baby Girls?”
Good question. The answer is that they were aborted or killed, mainly in China and India, but also in other countries. He painted a picture of a tragedy: the cross-violence of lower fertility, more accurate prenatal testing and the preference for sons.
A few years later, in 2017, The Economist was more optimistic: “In India, and the world at large, the war on baby girls seems to be over.” He concludes with characteristic aplomb: “Asia has embarked on a demographic experiment with disastrous consequences. It surely won’t repeat it.
Oops, sorry. Spoken too soon. According to an article in The Lancet Global Health, the sex ratio in India, at least, continues to widen. The natural ratio at birth is around 950 girls for every 1000 boys. The researchers found that:
13.5 million female births were missing over the three decades of observation (1987-2016), based on a natural sex ratio of 950 girls per 1,000 boys. Missing female births increased from 3.5 million in 1987–96 to 5.5 million in 2007–16. Comparison of the conditional sex ratio from the first decade of observation (1987–96) to the last (2007–16) showed a worsening for India as a whole and almost all states, among the two ranks of birth. Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Rajasthan had the most skewed sex ratios, accounting for nearly a third of the national total of missing women with second and third births.
If the natural ratio is actually 975 per 1,000, 22 million girls are missing.
In summary, between 13 and 22 million Indian girls were “missing” between 1987 and 2016 due to gender-selective abortion.
The gender holocaust is not due to the lack of social messages and feminist rhetoric of well-being. Politicians, bureaucrats, activists, educators all sing from the same score: do not abort girls. It did not work.
In 1994, the Pre-Conception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Act banned the use of prenatal sexual diagnosis which allows for sex-selective abortions – but this has had little impact. The researchers found that the sex ratio stabilized between 2007 and 2013, but subsequently worsened. Female infanticide seems to have disappeared, but ultrasound diagnosis followed by abortion is increasingly common. The researchers write:
Sex-selective abortion appears to be more pronounced for third-order births than for second-order births after previous daughter (s). Gender-selective abortion remained more common in richer and more educated families than in poorer and less educated families, in contrast to differences in child survival and access to health care. The main determinant of missing female births in second and third order births was an earlier daughter or daughters. Unfavorable trends in missing female births contrast sharply with the substantial improvement in infant mortality for girls over the past two decades in India.
According to a study by Australian researcher Richard Egan, preference for sons and willingness to have sex-selective abortion are also present in Indian, Chinese and Vietnamese immigrant communities around the world.
Michael cook is editor-in-chief of BioEdge