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India: 6 million girls 'missing' from sex-selection abortion

Catholic World News - December 26, 2011

New statistics show that the toll of sex-selection abortion on girls in India has been even more devastating than the nation’s government has acknowledged.

A study conducted by the Centre for Global Health Research and University of Toronto, has revealed that with advances in sex determination, Indians have aborted more than 12 million unborn girls in the past three decades, including 6 million since 2001.

Addressing a conference at St. John’s Medical College and Hospital in Bangalore, Prabhat Jha, the director of the study, said:

While fertility has fallen substantially, Indians’ preference for sons has not changed. As income and education levels rise, more Indian households can act on their son preference and sex-selective abortion has spread widely. Today, most Indians live in a community where selective abortion of girls is common.

The preference for boys and prejudice against girl child is rooted in Hindu cultural bias that one cannot attain moksha (liberation) unless he has a son to perform his last rites as mandated by Hindu scriptures. This religious sanction rendered the female child "unwanted" historically, and paved way for the system of heavy dowries that has added to the difficulty of a family with a female child. Hence couples often abort pregnancies after illegally identifying the sex of the fetus, while poor families abandon or even kill unwanted baby girls.

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