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Issues Law Med. 2010 Summer;26(1):13-29.

Female feticide in India.

Author information

1
Sultan Sharif Ali Islamic University, Brunei Darussalam. ahmadnehal@yahoo.com

Abstract

Women are murdered all over the world. But in India a most brutal form of killing females takes place regularly, even before they have the opportunity to be born. Female feticide--the selective abortion of female fetuses--is killing upwards of one million females in India annually with far-ranging and tragic consequences. In some areas, the sex ratio of females to males has dropped to less than 8000:1000. Females not only face inequality in this culture, they are even denied the right to be born. Why do so many families selectively abort baby daughters? In a word: economics. Aborting female fetuses is both practical and socially acceptable in India. Female feticide is driven by many factors, but primarily by the prospect of having to pay a dowry to the future bridegroom of a daughter. While sons offer security to their families in old age and can perform the rites for the souls of deceased parents and ancestors, daughters are perceived as a social and economic burden. Prenatal sex detection technologies have been misused, allowing the selective abortions of female offspring to proliferate. Legally, however, female feticide is a penal offence. Although female infanticide has long been committed in India, feticide is a relatively new practice, emerging concurrently with the advent of technological advancements in prenatal sex determination on a large scale in the 1990s. While abortion is legal in India, it is a crime to abort a pregnancy solely because the fetus is female. Strict laws and penalties are in place for violators. These laws, however, have not stemmed the tide of this abhorrent practice. This article will discuss the socio-legal conundrum female feticide presents, as well as the consequences of having too few women in Indian society.

PMID:
20879612
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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