Ten million girl foetuses aborted in India
The births of up to 10-million girls in India may have been prevented by selective abortion in the past 20 years, researchers say on Monday. Half a million babies are aborted every year because they are girls, even though termination on the grounds of gender was outlawed in India in 1994, according to a study published online by the Lancet medical journal.
Prabhat Jha from the University of Toronto and Rajesh Kumar at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India, and colleagues studied data from 1,1-million households and found that the likelihood of having a baby girl as a second or third child were significantly lower in households where there was no boy. “We conservatively estimate that prenatal sex determination and selective abortion accounts for 0,5-million missing girls yearly,” Professor Jha said.
“If this practice has been common for most of the past two decades since access to ultrasound became widespread, then a figure of 10 million missing female births would not be unreasonable.”
The researchers found that the numbers of girls and boys born to couples who already had a son were about equal.
But the adjusted sex ratio for a second girl where the first baby was a girl was 759 for every 1 000 boys. Where families had two girls it was 719 for every 1 000 boys.
In households where the mother had better education, it was significantly more likely that the birth of a girl would not be followed by the birth of another girl.
The researchers said it had long been observed that fewer girls than boys are born in India, as in China. It was possible that natural causes were responsible for some of the imbalance, but not the sort of ratios they found. There is little reliable evidence on female infanticide and the number of stillbirths—which could mask infanticide—reported could not account for all the missing girls.
The study suggested that it was common for women, perhaps under pressure from families, to seek an ultrasound scan and then termination if the foetus was a girl. Educated women had better access to scans and may be better able to afford them. “Female infanticide of the past is refined and honed to a fine skill in this modern guise,” said Shirish Sheth from Breach Candy hospital in Mumbai, in a Lancet online commentary. - Guardian Unlimited Â