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'India terminated 10 mn daughters'

Female foeticide, as per a study, has reached an alarming proportion in India, reports CR Jayachandran.

india Updated: Jan 09, 2006 22:17 IST
CR Jayachandran (
CR Jayachandran (

"Spend Rs 500, save Rs 500,000", read a writing on the rail-side wall somewhere in Punjab, harping on the expense of aborting a female foetus vis-à-vis the cost of dowry at the time of marriage of a daughter.

The gender discrimination in the form of prenatal sex selection and abortion of female foetuses has reached an alarming proportion today and a study said over the last two decades about 10 million female foetuses might have been selectively terminated following ultrasound tests in the country.

Fewer daughters have been born to couples who have not yet had a boy, according to the report published in the Lancet.

Researchers studied data on female fertility from a continuing Indian national survey of six million people in 11 million households.

Analysing information about 133,738 births, the researchers found that the deficit in the number of girls born as second children was more than twice as great among educated mothers than among illiterate ones, the report said.

"Infanticide has reduced," said official of India's National Commission for Women (NCW).

"In fact foeticide has brought down infanticide," she rued.

And Shiresh Sheth of Mumbai's Breach Candy Hospital, in a commentary accompanying the study, endorsed this view.

"Female infanticide of the past is refined and honed to a fine skill in this modern guise," he said.

Sheth noted that in India’s patriarchal society, daughters are regarded as a "liability", as she would belong to the family of her future husband.

The result of the quest for sons was clear in the 2001 census. From the ages of birth to six, there were 927 girls for 1,000 boys, down from 945 girls a decade earlier.

First Published: Jan 09, 2006 21:46 IST