x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

India's census data shows abortion of females unchecked by law

Law passed 15 years ago banning testing for gender of foetus proves ineffective, with 836 girls born to every 1,000 boys in 2005 to families that already have a girl, and between 4 million and 12 million girls are thought to have been aborted from 1980 to 2010.

NEW DELHI // More and more Indian families with one girl are aborting subsequent pregnancies when prenatal tests show another female is on the way, according to a new study published yesterday.

The decline in the number of girls is more pronounced in richer and better-educated households, according to research in the medical journal Lancet.

The numbers show that a law passed in 1996 that bans testing for the gender of a foetus has been largely ineffective, the study said.

In India, there is a huge cultural preference for boys, in large part because of the enormous expense in marrying off girls and paying elaborate dowries. Officials have acknowledged that current laws have proved inadequate at combating the widening sex ratio gap.

The study said that between 4 million and 12 million girls are thought to have been aborted from 1980 to 2010.

Raw data from India's census released in March showed 914 girls under the age of six for every 1,000 boys. A decade ago, many were horrified when the ratio was 927 to 1,000.

Researchers studied census data and government surveys of more than 250,000 births to conclude that gap is even wider in families that already have a girl.

The ratio was 906 girls under 6 to every 1,000 boys in 1990 and had declined further by 2005, when it was 836 to every 1,000.

That decrease was even more marked in families where the mothers were wealthier and had 10 or more years of education compared with a poor and uneducated mothers, presumably because the wealthy are more easily able to obtain illegal abortions.

But in families whose first child was a boy, there was no decrease in the girl to boy ratio for the second child, the study said.