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Sex Selection is big business in India

October 2, 2007
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Sex selection is estimated to be worth about 100 million dollars in India, although all of it is underground and a large part of it operates through mobile sex-selection clinics. Advertisements like ‘Pay Rs 5000 today and save Rs 5 lakhs tomorrow,’ are placed in select newspapers and magazines and ‘package deals’ are being offered. Of the total amount, clinics promise to return more than half, in case the result is a boy! Naturally, if it is a girl, there isn’t a refund.

Are the doctors turning businessmen?
Well there are those who feel that doctors want to make money and the law be damned. The lack of persecution of doctors is making things worse. Apparently, although more than 300 doctors have been prosecuted for disclosing the sex of a fetus to parents (which is illegal, PCPNDT Act 2003) , only four have been convicted (2006 figures).

While I am sure that this has something to do with it, a study by the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics at Pune has revealed something far more worrying.

Untrained people are manning clinics!
The study reveals that the highest number of sex selection centers in western Maharashtra are owned by untrained people! This is where sex ratios are very low. Additionally, as many as 25 percent of these untrained personnel use mobile scanning machines! The conclusion is obvious…but how many such clinics with untrained personnel actually exist?

Well, the report says more than 25 percent, but it is estimated that the figure is higher. I suspect that it is nearer 35-40 per cent of all the sex determination centers. And as these centres do not keep proper records, or actually fudge records, there is no way to find out how many scans they actually do. As many as 15 percent of these centers were found to have no records at all! As for supervision, which is mandatory under the PCPNDT Act (The Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act 1994), half of all centers are not regularly supervised! Looks like this law is a joke.

Also, some owners of these ‘clinics’ refused to provide all the information to researchers. Also, some clinics were not to be found at the addresses specified. Many of these so-called trained personnel manning the clinics did not bother to visit hospitals, even though they were registered as operators. The researchers feel that this is so because these people are untrained and hide away at their clinics. Well, it is easy to fudge papers to show that a person is trained, specially as no one’s looking or checking!

Another interesting find was that a large number of sex selection clinics are owned by those who have specialised in the Indian systems of medicine (ayurveda, unani, siddha and homoeopathy: AYUSH). Even more disturbing, these AYUSH doctors’ clinics are usually found outside municipal corporation limits and it is believed that they operate mostly in smaller towns and interior areas of the districts of western Maharashtra. I am not very familiar with these systems of medicine and I wonder if anyone knows why they need sonography machines.

Sex selection is a thriving business
Entrepreneurial and enterprising as we as a nation are, there are many who are cashing in on the huge demand for sex selection…and the government appears helpless! As cultural attitudes (preference for boys) isn’t going to change in a hurry, there is no hope unless the government’s attitude changes.

Government initiatives are weak
Many programmes to curb sex selection are aimed at educating people and creating awareness that this is a social evil…so why isn’t it working?? Because educated people are doing it, fully aware of the ‘evil’, which they see as a necessary evil!

The rich and educated are guilty
It has been known for some time that it is the more affluent section of society who practice the most female foeticide. In fact studies in the past two years in several states have shown that the richer the district, the higher the density of sonography centers, and the poorer the sex ratio. And yes, this means that it’s more of the educated people who are guilty, rather than the illiterate.

Nothing illustrates this better than the Indian community killing their unborn daughters in Canada. In fact, ads appear in Indian newspapers there, offering sex selection. These people come back to India and get it done.

Affluence + Development = more sex selection
The same Gokhale Institute study has thrown up a clear link between the number of sonography centers and the decrease in sex ratios in Maharashtra. The average sex ratio for districts with more than 100 sonography centers was found to be 901 and for districts with less than 100 sonography centers it was 937.

Contradictory reports on the number of missing girls
1. The government says 1.3 million girls are missing.
2. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen puts at 32 million.
3. The British medical journal says there are 10 million missing girls in the last 20 years, with half a million being aborted every year.
4. The Indian Medical Association, says only 250,000 females are aborted per year.

Well, whatever the truth, the future looks grim. We are developing our physical infrastructure, but the hand of the law remains weak. While trying to change cultural attitudes is wonderful, we have to realise that these are not going to change in a hurry, and by the time they do, too much damage will have been done. The only way is to start treating these people as criminals – shame them and those who run the sex selection centers by throwing them into jail.

Acknowledgments:
Images of the ads have been linked to the originals.
Thanks to Vivek Khadpekar for sending me the Gokhale Institute study

Related Reading: ‘Reputed’ doctor involved in sex-determination racket
What happens when there aren’t enough women
A one-man army is saving girls in Punjab
India sex ratio

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. October 2, 2007 11:48 am

    Why don’t these people just get a vasectomy/tubal ligation and save the trouble of spending any money at all on ‘any’ child? It’s not like such vile examples of human existence can provide any kind of nurturing environment and raise well-rounded adults. Invest all the money it would cost to raise a child and you will likely get better returns than the dowry your daughter-in-law will bring or the checks that your son will write in your name 20-odd years later.

    If you don’t have the humanity to love your own child – healthy or ill, beautiful or ugly, brainy or dunce, male or female, straight or gay – you have no right to bring a life into this world.

    The ones who are guilty of this crime: You are the cancer of the human race and your DNA needs to be eradicated from the gene pool. Go drown in a pool of battery acid.

  2. October 2, 2007 11:59 am

    I like those words Noman! Go drown in a pool of battery acid!!! Yeah, why not!
    For people for whom children are financial assets or debts have no business having children at all. With a growing economy these people should successfully be able to invest in stocks and shares instead. Or perhaps gold, real estate, so many options.

  3. October 2, 2007 4:08 pm

    Nita,
    Again I must beat a lone drum, and risk getting thrown out of your blog!
    While I despise this sex determination and female feticide with all my heart, I must point out facts which may be unsavory, but are, nonetheless, true facts, as many quaintly put it.
    At the outset, let me say that, as a passionate defender of freedom, one must be prepared to defend the rights of all, including the dregs of society. This includes prostitutes, pimps, drug peddlers, abortionists, and their ilk….
    It is morally wrong for the State to interfere in a purely personal decision of what gender a couple want their baby to be. They are making criminals out of amoral businessmen that these doctors (as you rightly pointed out) are.
    I believe these scumbags are wrong morally, but I would still say that they are within their rights to do what they (parents) want. If parents have a bias against female babies, how can the State deem they cannot? This is a move that is doomed to fail, as has been evidenced repeatedly over the years. This is akin to the state decreeing that men cannot reject dark brides (though every Indian worth his lota wants a fair virgin for a bride), because that would be against the rights of the dark.
    As far as the sex ratio is concerned, I think you do know that this is mainly because of the fact that Indian females have multiple-fold mortality in the early years of life, because their birth weights are low, and because they have low access to health care, compared to males.

  4. October 2, 2007 4:29 pm

    Rambodoc, you are welcome here.🙂
    Your ideas are certainly radical! But you are honest and not afraid to speak your mind. And you do it without being rude or getting personal. I like that.
    With a heavy heart I tend to agree with your one point….that the state seems doomed to fail because the demand is so high. Your statement does reflect a reality and I will never deny reality.
    However as for the sex ratio, while i do agree it is partly for those reasons you stated, but abortions play a large part. I am not an expert and am only going by what I have read. Feticide is contributing heavily, thats what experts say, including medical journals.

  5. October 2, 2007 6:23 pm

    rambodoc, I must disagree with your opinion on a parent’s right to choose their kid’s gender. The problem here isn’t about abortion – I am all for unwed 16-year-old kids living in a ghetto having the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. It’s not just tough circumstances – I think women should have the right to go for an abortion no-questions-asked. But the problem here isn’t merely of abortion –

    – the problem here is terminating a fetus ‘because’ it is female. The problem here is misogyny, sexism and hate; a line of thinking that perpetuates hostility & disrespect towards women. The State doesn’t need to encourage this type of behavior as this will set back Women’s Rights several decades.

    The kind of people who think it is their right to terminate a female fetus are also the kind of people who are likely to leave their newborn in a dumpster somewhere. And these are exactly the kind of people who should have their breeding privileges revoked.😉

    This reminds me of the controversy over the ‘Gay Baby’ article.
    radaronline article

    Can you imagine the kind of setback gay rights (to be treated as normal human beings) would take if people started aborting their ‘gay babies’ like it were some kind of virus? It would be the same with legalizing female foeticide.

  6. wishtobeanonymous permalink
    October 2, 2007 7:06 pm

    Are those ads Indian newspaper ads? I am sorry I did not read all of the articles. If sex determination is illegal in India, how come the advertisers were never caught?

  7. October 2, 2007 7:51 pm

    wishtobeanon, those kind of ads usually appear in obscure newspapers, and nothing happens to anybody. Cases might be filed and that sort of thing. But if you are asking me about this particular case, I don’t know.
    The second ad in any case appeared in a s. asian newspaper circulated abroad, that is what I understood from the article where I took the pic from.

  8. October 2, 2007 9:00 pm

    The ability to determine the sex of foetus seems to have caused more problems than anticipated prior to the development of this technology. To treat prospective children the same as brands of shoes one may or may not want is crazy. There is joy to be had in any child, male, female, fair , dark, perfect, flawed. The ability to abort a foetus if unable to provide support and sustenance for it as a living human being, should be possible. But dumping an infant because it is not the right sex, nor perfect is a denial of nature. Eugenics is an abhorrent concept to me. G

  9. October 2, 2007 9:09 pm

    Despite the fact that sex selective abortions have been banned in India for more than a decade, more than 10 million female births have been lost to abortion and sex selection in the past 20 years according to medical research.

    The age-old problem behind all such issues are surely the lack of adequate laws and failure of government in implementing them. And in this case of female infanticide, the society compliments the system and the crooks very nicely. Illiteracy, mindset, heir system, poverty, dowry, and several other issues are closely intertwined with this.

    The most astounding thing in your article is the advertisements published in the newspapers. I mean how come this be possible. Nobody seems to fear the laws and the machinery has surely closed its eyes. This is the extreme.

    Anyways, very nice article and summarization of the report. Accolades and thank you!

  10. October 2, 2007 9:32 pm

    Nita: Any law is only as good as the people it seeks to apply to, the enforcement and the punitive system attached to it.

    I think most get away with doing whatever they are doing because they know that the legal system prioritises ‘exemplar’ cases such as Sanjay Dutt, Shilpa Shetty, Salman Khan over minor players like entrepreneurial operators of back-room abortion clinics. They also know that even if a case were filed, it would be ages before it comes to court, if at all it does, then years before it is settled. Meanwhile they or someone else ‘nominated’ by them will continue to practise the same things with impunity so they can retire in peace…

    Law in India is a toothless dog in its twilight years… It is a shame.

  11. October 2, 2007 10:12 pm

    doc🙂

    im not against gender determination per se and dont see why it should be banned

    instead if the baby is a girl and first or second child the couple should be closely monitored till the baby is say 2 yrs so that they dont abort it , and put laws to that extent, and enforce it

    plus what of the couple with 3 daughters desperately wanting the forth to be a son

    this law as is the law on dowry is practically unenforceable because the rulers of India indulge in such practices

    finally until women stand up and unite just like in case of successful darubandi in some rural areas in mah nothing can happen

    ps ur on the Dashboard again!

  12. October 3, 2007 3:30 am

    As usual, an engaging topic.

    The law against determination of sex selection itself sounds off to me. I am perhaps stating the obvious here but the fundamental problem is the society’s treatment of woman on the whole i.e. dowry, employment opportunities, social status etc. (all combined with poverty which is all too common) The solution hence must come from within society to change this (but of course this is neither quick nor easy). But any improvement to this fundamental problem hopefully would lead to drop in “abortions because it is female'” and thus drop in needing to know the sex of the baby. I don’t think the state can nor should they try to enforce this change. It just wont succeed in the long run. The society as a whole have to somehow fix this themselves – but again it is a long road.

  13. October 3, 2007 8:54 am

    Suburban, to me too selection of a child on the basis of anything is an abhorrant concept. Thanks for sharing your views.

    Abhisek, thanks. About the law, one of the reasons why people don’t fear the law is because bribing is easy.

    Shefaly, the law is toothless for all the reasons you said, and more…corruption.

    Prax, while women uniting is well and good, what about men? Don’t you think that they too have a responsbility? After all we do live in a patriarchal society and womens’ attitudes reflect this. Many women internalize this nonsense about the superiority of one sex over the other, and perhaps if the men around them tell them that it’s nonsense, it might help?

    Arunk, yes the law cannot address the root of the problem. But as you yourself said, changing society is a long long process and in the meantime we might lose too many girls…

  14. October 3, 2007 9:27 am

    Good Post!
    Although the solution of imposing laws to stem these practices are certainly short term, if the fundamental & cultural problems of dowry & looking at children as a monetary investment are not dealt with head on, we will find ourselves trying to solve the same problems repeatedly. Not to blame anybody (obviously I am also part of the society), but we as a society have never been good at tackling the age old problems. The only thing we do is just insist for more laws that get broken any way.

  15. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    October 3, 2007 2:09 pm

    Shefaly,

    // I think most get away with doing whatever they are doing because they know that the legal system prioritises ‘exemplar’ cases … over minor players…//

    We need to look at this in the proper perspective. I think it is more the media than the legal system which prioritises the “exemplar” cases. The law, despite its many shortcomings, generally goes about its tasks without fear or favour.

    I personally do not think there is anything seriously wrong with prioritising exemplars. It is important to demonstrate that no one is above the law. If only the exemplars were dealt with (and seen to be dealt with) more strictly, that itself would serve as a deterrent to a large extent, if not entirely.

  16. October 3, 2007 7:33 pm

    I agree with Shefaly and Nita about the lax in legal system and corruption, but at a basal level, i also feel that illiteracy and financial dependency are major culprits. Often the parents are not educated enough to voice their concerns against overbearing family members and also women are dependent on others for finances and keep mum. Even if the mother wants to keep her child, immaterial to its sex, she is often forced to abort a girl child by family pressure. I am sure that she is not told before hand what an abortion can do to her health if it is done under frugal conditions since most of them are conducted by illegal concerns. If the husbands come to know that their wives will be in danger to conceive again and carry another child to full term after such ‘operations’ they might not agree to go through with them in the first place.

  17. October 5, 2007 10:37 am

    This is such awful news. The resultant shortage of women and its ill effects is blindingly obvious….yet the abortions continue.

    Thank you for sharing.

  18. Jaspal Singh permalink
    August 30, 2008 6:17 pm

    Plz any body tell me about ‘female foeticide’.
    I think ‘female foeticide’ is a big crime of the world. I want to stop this crime quickly.

  19. amarjit singh bamrah permalink
    December 5, 2010 2:27 pm

    LESSONS FROM GOD ; What happens to a Baby’s Soul after Abortion or Miscarriage

    (Please think about this then read the following)

    One fine morning at home, I was chanting mantras when Sai Baba appeared and said ”Amarjit, come with me”, we reappeared in a Temple with my wife also sitting next to me in the temple Hall.
    Baba looked at us and said ” I have brought someone to meet you”

    I said, “Baba ‘who have you brought”
    Baba said ”Look meet your other daughter”

    I was totally confused ”Baba you are mistaken we have a daughter we do not have another, ”

    ” AHA,! said Baba ” She is your other daughter, do you not, remember the trauma your wife suffered during miscarriage 15 years ago?”
    I replied, “Baba, why have you brought her to see us”

    I saw this girl standing next to us tall and very serene as if she had been touched by the hand of GOD!.

    Baba said ” Amarjit, When the mother has a miscarriage or Abortion it is not automatic that the child’s soul ascends, If the mother is constantly immersed in prayers then God intervenes and send Angels to take the Baby soul to Heaven/appropriate place, if not in prayers — then the Baby soul can be trapped in Limbo, becoming a BHOOT/Spirit , and normally attaches itself to it’s mother where it is home!
    From the mothers body the Baby soul may cause untold Trauma to its Mother/father and all around. Many times the Soul has no idea that its body/temple has died! The soul watches everything the parents do and interferes with their emotions. Amarjit, this is why its important to immerse in God prayers always.
    Amarjit, God has acknowledged your prayers & Devotion & intervened to take your baby soul Home!”.

    Baba then took hold of our daughters hand and the gates of Heaven opened and he disappeared with the Angels.
    Its only when the Hand of God touches us we realise there is more to life then what we perceive.

    We should open our senses and allow our Inner Godhead to awaken.

    Baba says “I am God, You too are God but you fail to recognise this!

    OM SAI RAM Amarjit

    With Miscarriage and Abortions invariably the baby soul stays within the mothers Womb where it was conceived as it is home to it.
    The mother has no idea why she has gone into depression after miscarriage or abortion. She has no idea it could be the Traumatic Soul stuck to her.
    From the womb the Baby Soul then may choose to cause a lot of suffering to her host/ ie Mom and people around. If the baby Soul becomes possessive of the Mother then it will invariably become very jealous and act accordingly with the people attached to MOM!

    With an Abortion / Miscarriage while it may be argued that the foetus has no soul in it in the early stages, it was shown to me by Baba that the foetus can be classified as a Phantom Living organism of the Mother similar to ‘ The Phantom Limb’.

    So Aborting the foetus is similar to that of having a trauma when you loose part of your body, say the Limb , Kidney etc. The very fact of removing this living organism causes Untold trauma especially in the Mother.
    Our body is the temple of God ‘Do not defile your Temple’.

    Being born as a woman conceiving Wow, Men find it hard to understand why their women behave strangely.
    Think about this – for approx 9 months the Mother has 2 soul within her body hers and the baby’s.
    The baby’s mind can also influence the mother during this period!

    Case Study :
    My first teaching from Baba happened at a friend’s house.
    We were praying and suddenly I saw inside his mothers womb a baby soul due to an old miscarriage some 40 years previously.
    I asked his Mother to ask God to release this soul to Heaven.
    She became nasty and I was asked to leave immediately!
    Nowadays I have to be very careful how I word myself.
    Case Study
    I was praying with a woman who had gone into depression and ill health when suddenly Sai Baba showed me in her womb was a dark energy. I spoke to this energy and it manifested to 2 Aborted souls which the mother had over 9 years!.
    The souls were jealous of each other and fighting each other inside her womb giving her health and emotional problems within her family. Baba took the souls away after we prayed for their release their Karma to be forgiven . The lady since has changed for the better.

    Case Study
    Another lady suffering from Emotional problems had darkness attached to her breast.
    When I spoke to this darkness it turned out to be an aborted baby soul which was sucking her mothers breast for milk , energetically and draining Mom of all her energies.
    A SPIRIT HAS LIMITLESS Energy
    Baba then took away this soul as well. She has changed for the better since with Gods Grace.

    If the women dies with the soul still stuck with her then this becomes a Karmic issue. If say the women is reborn as a man or a woman in the next life this trauma still follows the person reincarnated. We have seen sometimes the energy becomes absorbed into a Karma Issue or in some cases the Soul waits for the rebirth of the soul it was attached to and as soon as it reincarnates it attaches itself to this Soul , the new body may not be a women it could be a man.
    This Karma can be released thru mantras, prayer deep devotion to God or Sadhanas like Vortex , or the Grace of your Guru.
    Amarjit

    Click here: Spiritual Reality – Transcribed | dotSUB

    Click here: Phantom limb – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Click here: The Hickman Academy, for Spirit Release and Healing Remote Spirit Release, Worldwide

    Click here: Contact us – Wanda Pratnicka exorcist,parapsychologist – kontakt

    To keep our self free of Spirits and Bhoots it is essential to pray and or meditate.
    The spirits do NOT like when we go into silence or prayers.
    I remember some years ago after an overseas visit to Nairobi I was praying in my room , when suddenly I could see thru the walls of the House at that particular time, I saw floating along the other room and down the hall way and coming straight to me a being which was like a jelly fish but denser, it floated up to me and then tried to enter me, I felt the skin on my hands burning and then I heard this being Screaming for it was burnt too, by the Power of prayers . it ran away screaming .
    The prayers I had been chanting had saved me

  20. lela permalink
    December 14, 2011 11:14 am

    whatever the gender is, we have NO right to eliminate human life, each of us has the right to live our life to its fullest, only God has the right to get back this life we have. It’s an abomination in the sight of God people killing fetus for the sake of money, human life is not for business its a God’s given gift a privilege each spirit child of God is entitled to enjoy. People practicing this is liable and their wrong doings is punishable by God who is watching on every thoughts and actions we did. Just try to imagine those eliminated fetus will stand against those people who killed them and point their fingers to condemn them in front to that God who created us.Those fetus will cry vengeance to that powerful God who hears the cry of those unborn babies being killed for nonsense reasons, Indians & people practicing this abominable act are you not afraid?

Trackbacks

  1. Isn’t it ironic? « La Vie Quotidienne
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