Case study - India's missing girls

On 23rd May 2011, the BBC published an article asking 'Where are India's millions of missing girls?' based on the figures of the 2011 Indian census which showed a serious decline in the number of girls under the age of seven. Activists feared that eight million female fetuses may have been aborted from 2001-2011.

The figures show that for every 1000 boys born in India, there are only 914 girls which campaigners put down largely to the increased availability of antenatal sex screening. Although India outlawed sex-selective abortion in 1994, campaigners argue that this is not being strictly implemented. In south west Delhi for example, there are dozens of ultrasound clinics. This area has the worst child sex ratio in the capital with 836 girls for every 1000 boys. Delhi is not alone in this, with sex ratios declining in 17 states in India in the past decade.

All this has occurred regardless of the Pre-Natal Determination Test (PNDT) Act of 1994, which outlawed sex-selective abortion, and which was amended in 2004 to include gender selection even at the pre-conception stage.

For reflection and discussion

  • Are there any differences in the ways in which children of different genders have been raised in your own family?
  • How might Sikhs defend abortion generally, and specifically in relation to gender selection?
  • What arguments might they use against abortion?
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