iconimg Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Sanchita Sharma, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 20, 2009
“Select your baby’s gender at will in 3 simple steps with 94% accuracy”: that’s not a furtive sign at a shady clinic but what you get when you type ‘gender selection clinics’ on the Yahoo search engine. Popular Internet portals Google and Yahoo are breaking Indian laws by carrying ads of sex selection clinics.

India’s Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act, 2002 bans the use of technology (ultrasounds and sonograms) for and advertising of sex selection that lead to foeticide (sex-selective abortion).

According to the United Nations Population Fund, the natural sex ratio at birth is 940-950 girls per 1,000 boys. Easy access to diagnostic technology has led to India’s sex ratio falling from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001.

“Indian law bans advertisements and sponsored links related to sex selection facilities on any web page that can be accessed in India. It does not matter where the server or the clinic being advertised is. If an ad can be seen by opening a web page in India, it is banned,” said Supreme Court lawyer A. Shenoy.

Representatives of portals, however, say the Act only bans the advertisement of such facilities in India. Since there is no ban on writing about them, search results can’t be monitored as it may block educational and academic content.

Google advertising policy states “advertising is not permitted for the promotion of pre-natal gender determination or pre-conception sex selection when targeting ads to India”. But its search portal carries ads of clinics in other countries.

“In India, we don’t allow ads for the promotion of pre-natal gender determination or preconception sex selection,” a Google India statement said.

“Yahoo! operates a global business and abides by relevant local laws and regulations,” its official spokesperson said.

“These portals break the law in India and get paid for it,” said Sabu George, an activist for the girl child.