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Canada Calling

A new study released on Monday has re-ignited the debate on whether women from certain ethnic communities, mostly Indo-Canadians, go in for sex-selective abortion in Ontario. The study released in the Canadian Medical Association Journal confirms previous research showing that the male-to-female ratio for third-born children to women born in India and living in Ontario state, which has a large Indo-Canadian population, is higher than the natural rate.

india Updated: Apr 23, 2012 14:17 IST
Gurinder Gill

Indians lead in female foeticide in Canada: study
A new study released on Monday has re-ignited the debate on whether women from certain ethnic communities, mostly Indo-Canadians, go in for sex-selective abortion in Ontario. The study released in the Canadian Medical Association Journal confirms previous research showing that the male-to-female ratio for third-born children to women born in India and living in Ontario state, which has a large Indo-Canadian population, is higher than the natural rate.

The St Michael's Hospital study analysed 766,688 births in Ontario and found that mothers born in India and South Korea were "significantly" more likely to have boys for their second child.

And when it came to having a third child, the male-to-female ratio grew even more skewed for India-born mothers, who had 136 boys for every 100 girls. By comparison, the ratio for Canadian-born mothers was 105 boys for every 100 girls - regardless of whether it was their first, second or third child.

"Our findings raise the possibility that couples originating from India may be more likely than Canadian-born couples to use prenatal sex determination and terminate a second or subsequent pregnancy if the fetus is female," reads the study.

There have been suggestions that the practice has immigrated to Canada, and the issue was recently brought to the forefront by a controversial editorial - also published by the CMAJ - that urged Canadian doctors to stop divulging foetal sex to mothers until the 30th week of pregnancy, when an unquestioned abortion becomes virtually impossible.

Interestingly, male-to-female ratios remained largely the same for mothers from Pakistan as they had second and third children. The study notes that this could be because abortion is religiously prohibited in Pakistan, which is a largely Muslim country.

In cities like Brampton, Mississauga and Surrey, which has a large South Asian population, some community health workers have also reported that female foeticide is certainly happening.

Kabaddi under fire from immigration dept over kabootarbaazi
The rural game of kabaddi is under fire from the Canadian immigration department over allegations of human smuggling involving players. Such immigration has a term in Punjabi - kabootarbaazi - literally meaning pigeon-trading.

Every summer, kabaddi makes a wide impact on the playing fields in Canada as thousands of South Asians descend to watch players compete in this ancient Indian sport.

Though the Canadian kabaddi season is set to begin in May, a large number of players would be missing from action as the immigration department is going to tighten the noose around kabaddi federations.

Immigration officials say that of the 670 visas issued in 2011 to players from India, 91 players have not returned home, while 27 have filed refugee claims.

A special visa process initiated last year that enabled players to get fast track visas has been discontinued by the authorities. "Everyone is talking about what happened … it is shocking," said a Brampton-based kabaddi player on the condition of anonymity. "We are very worried what it means for the sport and this season."

In Canada, there are at least seven kabaddi federations, each with six to 10 sports clubs. These federations organise tournaments where locals and players from India compete. The season runs from May to August.

Sports experts revealed that there aren't even 200 good players in Punjab, and many of the 670 persons who were issued kabaddi visas were family and friends of federation officials.

Before 2011, kabaddi players were not issued special visas. Those involved in the sport applied for temporary resident visas, like any other visitor to Canada. Due to increasing requests from federations, immigration officials created a program where these organisations could recommend players.

About 152 kabaddi visas were issued visas in 2009, and 298 more in 2010. Under the special visa arrangement, the total jumped to 670 in 2011. But now the players will once again have to apply for temporary visas.

A few players are known to have disappeared in Canada in previous years too; but this is the first time so many have gone missing.

Abbotsford to erect monument honouring Indo-Canadian farm workers
After a unanimous vote, the Abbotsford City Council in British Columbia has approved a proposal to construct a commemorative monument honouring the three Indo-Canadian farm workers killed five years ago in a tragic van accident. The monument is meant to create awareness about the safety of farm workers that is often neglected by South Asians.

PICS Society in collaboration with BC Federation of Labour has commissioned the piece of art that will be located in Mill Lake Park in downtown Abbotsford. The families of Amarijit Kaur Bal, Sarabjit Kaur Sidhu and Sukhvinder Kaur Punia sat in the audience, while the proposal was being finalised.

The three were killed when a van licenced for 15 people but carrying 17 went out of control in wet conditions and landed upside-down on a concrete divider in 2007. The vehicle had only two seatbelts and poor tyres.

Called the Golden Tree monument, the memorial structure would be 20 feet tall tree representing three women at the trunk level. The branches become their arms reaching for the sky.

This will be the first and only farm-worker monument in BC.

While the city council wholeheartedly supported the project, the community and family of the deceased farm-workers would raise funds for the project.

Amandeep Singh carrying the flag of Punjabis' success
Amandeep Singh, a Punjabi youth, has been appointed as chairperson of the Canada Pension Plan (Old Age Security) Review Tribunal. The youngest chairperson of Indian-origin ever appointed, Amandeep, a law graduate from India, landed in Vancouver in 2003 and later moved to Toronto. He obtained his licence to practice law in 2009 and opened his own law firm.

Bad Boss Award: Anil Dhawan's claim to shame
A Vancouver-based Indo-Canadian owner of three Subway restaurant branches has been given the dubious 'Bad Boss Award' by the BC Federation of Labour. This makes Anil Dhawan the first recipient of the symbolic award, which he 'won' for allegedly asking his employees to forgo overtime wages.

The BC Fed's Employee Action Rights Network (EARN) said an employee at Dhawan's Oakridge Mall restaurant entered him in the Bad Boss contest earlier this year, for what EARN called a "blatant violation of employment standards." A leaked contract stamped with the Subway logo asks employees to "acknowledge and agree to waive any overtime wages due to (their) request to work additional hours per week."