Posted on | januari 11, 2012 | No Comments
Over the past few years I have written a number of posts on the issue of gender-based discrimination resulting in infanticide, especially regarding the heartbreaking case of India’s alarming rate of ‘missing girls’. As mentioned in my posts Indian Infanticide Causing A Population Imbalance, India’s Infanticide Shame, and India’s Missing Girls, the case of infanticide in India is not a new story. The alarming rate of infanticide in India may amount to what could be easily considered the worst form of gender inequality.
Despite international attention and outcry over the years, the use of sex-selective abortions remains common in India. Indian laws outlawed the practice since 1994, however infanticide continues to remain widespread, shifting underground. In 2008 Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that the country should be ashamed of this practice. It is estimated that each year 500,000 female fetuses are aborted because of their gender.
“This is a national shame and we must face this challenge squarely here and now. No nation, no society, no community can hold its head high and claim to be part of the civilized world if it condones the practice of discriminating against one half of humanity represented by women,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated at a conference on ways to “Save the girl child” on Monday (Google/Associated Press).
While infanticide is more widespread in rural populations, it effects all social classes, reaffirming girl’s social stigma as well as poverty. Girls are seen as a burden, while boys are considered an investment that will provide for their families; the gender balance is clearly heavily shifted towards the male population. The long-term impact of female infanticide practices on the Indian population was revealed a few years ago, especially in the more densely populated states in the northwest of the country, such as Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh. The practice is significantly tilting the gender ratio in these regions. Research shows that India has lost 12 million females due selective abortions in the last three decades. However, India’s 2011 national census revealed that while the overall female-to-male ratio has marginally improved since the last census in 2001, fewer girls were born than boys and the number of girls under 6 plummeted for the fifth decade running.
Recently, the battle to fight infanticide in India has taken a new turn, seeking the help of technology. A new mechanical device, ‘the Silent Observer’, allows authorities to track sonograms and monitor doctors’ abortion decisions. The device is drawing fire from Indian activists as failing to be a solution to gender-selective abortions (Trust Law). While this new technology may help prevent some of India’s infanticide, it is unclear whether it will only drive the practice further underground. While it is true that the country must take a more proactive approach and stamp down on this unthinkable form of gendercide, the issue has been brought to light again and again, especially in the last five years, with only a small decrease in the practice. It appears that little progress has been made and sustainable change seems to remain in the distant future. Until the government and international community really stamp down, but more importantly educate the population on the long term effects of sex discrimination and infanticide, the fate of girls across India is in danger.