Awareness On Female Foeticide

Awareness On Female Foeticide

Mar 08, 2022

Introduction

It is a joy to have a child in every human society, from the tribal communities to urbanized civilizations. Every married couple would love to try for a child. When the wife finally succeeds in getting pregnant, everyone in the family would be ecstatic and happy about the good news.

However, in some societies, there is still preference for gender. Unfortunately, during this era of mostly compulsory education system and easily accessible information, that disseminates intellectual information in faster speed than ages ago, some families still see baby girls as curses.

Female foeticides happen especially in India. In a population of 1.38 billion (estimated as of 2020), it is inevitable to know that female foeticides led to 1.08 male for every female (national Indian census, 2011). Comparatively, the international average was 1.01 males for every female.

Female foeticide is the earliest stage of discrimination against women and girls in the country of India. It is a gender-selective abortion in which a female fetus is illegally terminated solely because she is a girl. We can now detect the gender of the fetus much earlier in the pregnancy thanks to technological advances in the last 20 years. As a result, the number of gender-selective abortions performed in India is rapidly increasing.

What Is Female Foeticide

Female foeticide is the practice of selectively aborting a female fetus in order to improve the chances that a male child will be born. This practice has been going on for centuries in India, and it has led to an imbalance in the sex ratio, with far more boys than girls being born.

There are many different reasons why parents may choose to abort a female fetus, but the most common ones are the belief that having a daughter is a burden and the desire for a son. Female foeticide is a huge problem in India, and it needs to be addressed if the country wants to progress socially and economically.

Why Female Foeticide Exists

There are a number of reasons why parents may choose to terminate a female foetus. In some cases, it may be because they feel they cannot afford to have another daughter; in others, it may be because they believe that having a girl will bring them shame or dishonor. There are also cases where girls are simply seen as a financial burden, as they will eventually need to be married off and supported by their husband's family.

Whatever the reason, the end result is always the same: girl children are deliberately aborted, often before they are even born. This has led to a drastic gender imbalance in many countries, where there are now far more boys than girls. This imbalance is not only unfair, but it can also have serious social consequences.

Overview Of Female Foeticide In India

Female foeticide occurs throughout India, from rural villages to urbanized cities. This could be stemmed from poor sex ratio.

According to Indian census data, the sex ratio is poor when women have one or two children. But it improves as they have more children, as a result of sex-selective practices by stopping to have children based on birth sex.

A  positive correlation exists between an abnormal sex ratio and higher socioeconomic status and literacy. This could be related to India's dowry system, in which dowry deaths occur when a girl is viewed as a financial burden. According to 1991, 2001, and 2011 Census data, urban India has a higher child sex ratio than rural India, implying a higher prevalence of female foeticide.

The government has attempted to reduce female foeticide through legislation such as the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PCPNDT).

The PCPNDT was enacted by the Indian Parliament in 1994 and prohibits prenatal sex determination due to the country's rapidly increasing female foeticide. Because prenatal sex determination is illegal and can result in steep fines, people seek alternative methods of determining gender and performing abortions. Since the act's inception, amendments have been made to strengthen and enforce the law, but female foeticide continues to occur and is very common. The most effective way to end female foeticide is to understand why and how it occurs and to take collective action to address the issue. The issue can be due to the root cause of the problem - prevalent female discrimination in India.

Why Female Foeticide Exists In India Today

Several theories have been advanced as possible explanations for sex-selective abortion. Some researchers favor culture, while others favor disparate gender-biased access to resources. Some demographers question whether claims of sex-selective abortion or infanticide are true, pointing out that underreporting of female births could also explain high sex ratios. Some of the abnormal sex ratios may also be explained by natural causes. According to Klasen and Wink, the high sex ratios in India and China are primarily the result of sex-selective abortion.

Real Discrimination Against Female Infants In India

According to an article in 2018, a real issue of female unborn discrimination almost happened in a city in North India. The couple, hailing from Chandigarh, was advised by friends and family members to get an unlawful ultrasound to determine the gender of the child inside the expecting mother. Mukesh Sharma’s wife was pregnant with their second child and the couple was under pressure to bear a son since the first child was already a girl.

Against all odds, Mukesh did not bow to peer pressure. Despite living in a region with a notoriety in skewed sex ratio, Mukesh brushed off stresses on him to have a second child as a son. He remarked that it didn’t matter if his second child were to be a girl or a boy.

Eventually, the couple gave birth to another girl, much to the dismay of family members and friends. Though they didn’t meet expectations this time, Mukesh’s wife was still determined to try again for a son. She even tried her luck with the sex selection drugs (SSDs).

SSDs were popular among Indian women. They are traditional remedies taken usually post conception. They believe it will help them have a boy, even though a child's sex cannot be changed in the womb.

The audience learns that the drugs, which contain phytoestrogens (plant compounds similar to the hormone oestrogen) as well as heavy metals, have been linked to birth defects and stillbirths.

Male babies were generally preferred because they provided manual labor and ensured the success of the family lineage. Female fetuses are most commonly aborted selectively in areas where cultural norms value male children over female children for a variety of social and economic reasons.

A son is often considered a "asset" because he can earn and support the family, whereas a daughter is considered a "liability" because she will be married off to another family and thus will not contribute financially to her parents. Female foeticide is thus a variation on the practice of female infanticide or the denial of postnatal health care to girls in certain households.

Men are typically the primary breadwinners, either because they are more employable or earn higher wages for the same work, or because they can do more agricultural work in subsistence economies. Male babies are less likely to be killed because they have a higher earning potential.

Furthermore, in some cultures, sons are expected to care for their aging parents. These factors are complicated by the effect of diseases on child sex ratio, which affects males and females differently.

Historically, women were assigned a very low status in many South Asian populations, as evidenced by practices such as sati, an ancient funeral custom in which a widow immolated herself on her husband's pyre or committed suicide in another way shortly after her husband's death.

Because such societies place little value on females, they encourage parents to commit infanticide or abandon their daughters. As a result, the modern practice of sex-selective abortion is a continuation of other historical practices.

During the nineteenth century, one-fourth of the population in Northwest British India preserved only half of the daughters, while the other 3/4th of the population had a balanced sex ratio. There were 118 men for every 100 females. This is comparable to the current sex ratio in the region, which is now divided between India and Pakistan.

Child sex ratios greater than 115 boys per 100 girls are found in Hindu-majority areas, while "normal" child sex ratios of 104 to 106 boys per 100 girls are found in Muslim-, Sikh-, or Christian-majority areas. According to these findings, sex selection is a practice that occurs among some educated, wealthy segments of Indian society or within a specific religion.

Indian Dowry System

A dowry is a payment made at the time of marriage by the bride's family to the groom's family. Dowry is typically defined as gifts given to the son-in-law or his parents during the marriage, either in cash or in kind. However, in terms of women's status, dowry must be viewed as what is given to the bride, and is frequently settled ahead of time and announced openly or discreetly.

The gift, while given to the bride, is not solely her property; it also includes what is given to the bridegroom before and after marriage, as well as what is presented to the girl's in-laws. The practice of giving dowry was intended to make it easier for a newly married couple to begin their life together.

However, it has now devolved into a shady commercial transaction in which monetary considerations take precedence over the bride's personal merits.

A 30-year-old 3-wheel rickshaw driver in Jaipur, Rajasthan, had his 2nd daughter go through foeticide due to his fears of paying dowry for her marriage when she grew up. He was motivated by the main fact that he could not save enough dowry for this 1st daughter in future. Relating such story on condition of anonymity, the driver expressed his sorrow as being poor person struggling to make ends meet for his family.

Despite the fact that dowry – a payment to the groom's family – has been illegal since 1961, it is still practiced in many communities.

Marriage, in theory, results in partners selecting the mate who best maximizes their utility, with equal distribution of returns to both participants. The outcome is pareto optimal and reaches equilibrium when no one would be better off with another partner or by not marrying. It is most common in socially stratified, monogamous societies that are economically complex and in which women play a relatively minor productive role.

However, if both partners do not share an equal distribution of the returns, a transfer of funds between them is required in order to achieve efficiency. The rise of economic growth in Indian society has enabled men to work in "productive" jobs and earn an income, but many women are denied these opportunities. As a result, women and their families must compete for men and pay a dowry as a transaction payment to compensate for the lack of productive inputs they bring to a marriage.

Dowries have been rising in India for the last six decades, increasing at a rate of 15% per year between 1921 and 1981. Women are valued less in this partnership, and as a result, they are expected to pay in order to reap the benefits that a man brings. The power hierarchy and financial obligations created by this system help to perpetuate acts such as female foeticide and a strong preference for sons. Furthermore, technological progress leading to sex selective abortions reduces the cost of discrimination, and many people believe that it is better to pay 500 rupees now (abortion) rather than 50,000 rupees later (dowry).

Furthermore, dowry-related costs extend far beyond marriage. The bride's family is expected to bear the brunt of the groom's high expenses.

According to one South Indian study, the average dowry equals roughly two-thirds of a household's assets (Rao 1993). Dowry has a significant impact, particularly on poor, low caste families who may use it to secure upward mobility. According to one respondent, they decided on only two because raising more than two would require more money.

Dowry was a problem for us; dowry for girls costs two lakh (two hundred thousand rupees). We both work as coolies (hired labor in fields), so we can't have more than two. The government also recommends a maximum of two. It serves as a disincentive for people to try for a boy. (Gayathri, 35, 1 boy, 1 girl, no education, sterilized)

According to the Asian Centre for Human Rights, a Delhi-based NGO dedicated to the protection of human rights, the preference for son over daughter is a major reason for female infanticide in many countries around the world. 

The South Asian dowry system, which makes daughters "an unaffordable economic burden," contributes to female infanticide.

Discriminatory Access To Resources

Some of the variation in birth sex ratios and implied female foeticide could be attributed to disparities in resource availability. As MacPherson (2007) points out, there can be significant differences between male and female children in terms of gender violence and access to food, healthcare, and immunizations. This results in high infant and childhood mortality among girls, causing changes in the sex ratio.

Access to resources appears to be skewed by gender and strongly linked to socioeconomic status. Poorer families, in particular, are sometimes forced to ration food, with daughters typically receiving less priority than sons (Klasen and Wink 2003). According to Klasen's 2001 study, this practice is less common in the poorest families, but it increases dramatically in the slightly less poor families.

According to Klasen and Wink's 2003 study, this is "related to greater female economic independence and fewer cultural strictures among the poorest sections of the population." In other words, poor families are less constrained by cultural expectations and norms, and women have more freedom to become family breadwinners out of necessity.

Lopez and Ruzikah (1983) discovered that, given equal resources, women outlive men at all stages of life after infancy. However, resources are not always allocated equitably on a global scale. As a result, some scholars argue that disparities in access to resources such as healthcare, education, and nutrition play a minor role in the high sex ratios observed in some parts of the world.

Weak Indian Social Security System

There are economic advantages to having a son and disadvantages to having a daughter. There is a very limited social security system in India, so parents look to their sons to secure their futures and care for them in old age.

Daughters are liabilities because they must leave their parents to marry and are unable to care for them. Furthermore, they do not contribute financially to the family wealth and are expensive due to the dowry system. In India, men's work is typically viewed as "productive" and beneficial to the family, whereas female labor is not viewed in the same light. This is also related to the fact that it is easier for men in India to obtain high-paying jobs and provide for their families.

Women require increased access to education and economic resources to achieve that level of gainful employment and to change people's perceptions of daughters as financial liabilities. With this cost-benefit analysis, many families conclude that they must prioritize the lives of their male children over the lives of their female children in order to secure their financial future.

Role Of Sex Selection Technology In Female Foeticide

The development of prenatal sex detection technology (henceforth, ultrasound) has transformed the demographic landscape in India and other countries where sons are given higher values more than daughters. An ultrasound scan can detect foetal sex as early as 12 weeks (about 3 months) of gestation, allowing for selective abortion of unwanted female foetuses without jeopardizing the mother's health. Ultrasound was first used in India in the mid-1980s, after abortion had been legalized. Ultrasound scans are widely used for determining foetal sex due to their low cost and non-invasive nature.

The availability of ultrasound during the early diffusion period of between 1985 and 1995 was influenced by the liberalization of India's import sector. In 1987, India imported the ultrasound scanner for the first time (Mahal et al. 2006). Following that, as import duties on medical equipment were gradually reduced, the volume of imports rapidly increased (Figure 1). A second significant increase in ultrasound availability occurred between 1995 and 2005, when domestic Indian production of ultrasound machines increased dramatically due to the easing of industrial licensing regulations (Figure 2). According to Bhalotra and Cochrane (2010), these supply-side made changes resulted in a meteoric rise in sex-selective abortion.

Previous research by Anukriti, Bhalotra and Tam (2017) has shown that parents who have a girl as their first child are more likely to use sex-selection technology for subsequent pregnancies than families who have already had a son at the time of first birth. Furthermore, despite access to sex-selection technology, the sex ratio of firstborn children in India has remained within the biologically normal range. Thus, we combine supply-driven changes in ultrasound availability with family-level variation in the incentive to sex-select as captured by the sex of the firstborn child to estimate the causal impact of sex-selection on post-birth gender gaps among second and higher parity births.

Gender Gaps Reduced Through Sex-Selection Technology

Girls born in the post-ultrasound era receive more early-life investments, which not only contributes to their survival but also predicts improvements in cognitive attainment, income, and longevity for girls, as well as the outcomes of their offspring.

Closing gender gaps in human capital is also linked to higher growth rates and social change. The observed fertility decline (concentrated in firstborn-girl families) benefits girls not only through increased resources per capita, but it is also potentially beneficial for mothers' health, which is depleted by high levels of fertility motivated by the desire to bear sons. In general, fertility decline has been linked to economic growth, human capital accumulation, and women's empowerment in developing countries. (Anukriti, Bhalotra and Tam 2017)

Female Foeticide In Other Countries

A report, titled "Female Infanticide Worldwide: The Case for Action by the UN Human Rights Council," examines infanticide patterns across continents. There are some shocking findings from the report done by this global humanitarian body. It establishes the tone by claiming that 117 million girls are demographically "missing" because of sex-selective abortions. This was as reported by the United Nations Population Fund. Amartya Sen, the Nobel Laureate economist, estimated that there were approximately 100 million missing women in Asia, women who were never born, killed, or aborted.

Countries with the most skewed sex ratio at birth Source: CIA World Factbook 2016

China

When the policy was first implemented in 1980, they did not have scanning machines that could determine the gender of the fetus at an early stage, so people who delivered girls and wanted to keep their quota for that one boy.

This happened mainly because if you used up your quota for a girl and then gave birth to another girl, you would lose that. Hence, people would either abandon their daughters, or there would be infanticide, or they would give them a boy.

However, later in the 1990s, technology made it easier for people to do all of these scans, and companies like General Electric created portable and small enough scanning machines that you could take from village to village and determine the sex of your fetus - for as little as $10 or $20 - so people would just have an abortion instead of carrying a child to full term.

An example was Song Chunxia who got an abortion in the 1990s. At an age younger than 25, Chunxia found out from ultrasound scan that she would be expecting a girl. Due to the strict one-child policy imposed during the late 1970s, she and her husband had their decision made – to prefer a boy child.

Their mind was now made up in 1999. Chunxia opted for an abortion of the female foe. Now at age 46, working as a cleaner in Guangzhou, Chunxia deeply regretted the decision. She said that had the government were more relaxed on bearing children, she might not have had given up on her baby girl.

Female foeticide stories were not uncommon in China. According to Jiang Quanbao of Xian Jiaotong University, an estimated 20 million baby girls went "missing" from the population between 1980 and 2010 - either through abortion or infanticide.

The Maternal and Infant Health Care Law of the People's Republic of China was drafted in response to enormous population pressures, the heavy burden of people with disabilities, and dubious local practices that restrict reproductive freedom for people with mental and putative hereditary diseases.

Aside from the Maternal and Infant Health Care Law of the People's Republic of China of 1994, Beijing also has the Population and Family Planning Law of the People's Republic of China of 2002, which prohibits foetal sex identification and sex-selective abortions.

Nepal

According to a survey conducted by the Nepal-based NGO Center for Research on Environment, Health, and Population Activities, 81% of women whose first child was a daughter prefer a son. Some women also reported feeling pressured to have a son. Husbands (42%) and mothers-in-law (42%) are the main sources of pressure in the form of psychological abuse (41 per cent). The study discovered that unsafe abortions are also carried out covertly.

According to social scientists, roughly one in every 50 female births were 'missing' from the records between 2006 and 2011 (a total of 22,540 female births), implying that they had been aborted.

One in every six female births were'missing' in the census data in Arghakhanchi, the most affected district. According to the analysis, sex-selective abortion was geographically concentrated around Kathmandu valley and Lumbini province, with 53 percent of missing females found in 11 of 75 districts.

In Kathmandu, Nepal's main urban center, approximately 115 males are born for every 100 females. Scientists predicted that without sex selection, only 105 males would be born for every 100 females.

Nepal, like many other countries in the region, prefers sons. Sons are regarded as economic and social assets in some parts of the country, whereas females are regarded as a burden due to the costs associated with marriage.

There has been an increase in concern about female foeticide, but there has been little empirical research on the scope of the problem. Abortions based on the results of sex determination tests are illegal in Nepal and are punishable by imprisonment. However, according to the researchers who published their findings in BMJ-Open, these laws are not effectively enforced.

According to the study, the sex ratio was an alarming finding as it was worse in wealthy groups than in poorer ones. Another interesting discovery was that in districts where sex selection was more prevalent, females were more likely than males to die before the age of 5, indicating discrimination both before and after birth.

According to Melanie Channon, the study's lead author from the University of Bath's Department of Social & Policy Sciences, as fertility declines and urbanization rises, more people in Nepal have access to prenatal sex identification technology, . Their research demonstrates some of the impact this has had in recent years, and we anticipate a 'trickle-down' of the ability to choose the sex of a baby from the wealthiest and most educated as technology becomes more widely available and affordable. Simply put, if no concerted effort is made, there will be an increase in sex-selective abortions in Nepal.

Southeast Europe

The Western Balkans, including Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro, have an unbalanced birth sex ratio in the twenty-first century. According to academics, this indicates that sex-selective abortions are common in Southeast Europe.

In 2014, it is said that abortion of female foetuses was spreading in Eastern Europe like present-day coronavirus. According to Luis Mora, chief of the gender branch at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), recent research has found that a desire for sons and access to technology are largely responsible for the Caucasus region, which runs along the European-Asian border between the Black and Caspian Seas, having among the highest rates of sex selection in the world.

To think that China and India were the only exceptions in son preference and sex selection, Eastern Europe was now caught up with such practices. This felt strange as they did not have such history of gender selection practices in their culture previously.

As a result, the UNFPA estimates that nearly 93,000 women will be missing in countries such as Armenia by 2060 if the country's high pre-natal sex selection rate remains unchanged.

The culture was said to have been passed down from the Soviet era, and easy access to technologies that allow parents to know their child's sex before birth is another important factor.

According to CIA estimates, Albania's birth sex ratio is 109 as of 2017. According to Eurostat and birth record data from 2008 to 2011, Albania and Montenegro had birth sex ratios of 112 and 110, respectively. In recent years, Montenegrin health officials have expressed concern about the significant disparity in the number of male and female births.

However, according to CIA data from 2017, Montenegro's birth ratio is within the normal range, at 106. Birth registration data for Macedonia and Kosovo show unbalanced birth sex ratios in recent years, with Kosovo having a birth rate of 112 in 2010. Macedonia and Kosovo were both ranked 108 by the CIA in 2017.

Indian Government Help To End Female Foeticide

Sex-selective abortion and female foeticide (the abortion of female fetuses) have resulted in India having one of the world's most skewed sex ratios. According to the most recent census, there were 914 girls for every 1,000 boys for children under the age of six in 2011, but in some northern states, the ratio was as low as 850.

In a 2013 official report, India's health ministry stated that the primary reasons for the distorted sex ratio were son preference, neglect of the girl child, resulting in higher mortality at a younger age, female infanticide, and female foeticide.

Between 1990 and 2018, approximately 15.8 million girls went missing in India because of prenatal sex selection, according to the Population Research Institute (PRI). 

According to PRI, approximately 550,000 girls went missing in 2018. In modern times, this would be shocking. But way before present times, there was already awareness raised to curb the burning issue.

Actually, action on female foeticide had already taken place about 50 years ago. The so-called Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971, passed India's first abortion-related law, making abortion legal in most states but specifying legally acceptable reasons for abortion such as medical risk to the mother and rape. The law also established physicians who can legally perform abortions and facilities where they can be performed, but it did not anticipate female foeticide due to technological advances. The Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PNDT) was passed by the Government of India in 1994 in response to the increasing availability of sex screening technologies in India during the 1980s in urban India, as well as claims of misuse.

The government has passed legislation prohibiting the use of ultrasound tests to determine the gender of a fetus, as well as sex-selective abortions. 

They have, however, failed to solve the problem.

In 2015, the government launched a national campaign to address the gender gap, with a renewed emphasis on enforcing laws prohibiting sex-selective abortion and diagnostic techniques used for female foeticide, as well as promoting girls' education.

Experts say such campaigns have failed to engage men, who not only play a critical role in shaping attitudes toward girls, but are also frequently perpetrators, forcing women to undergo sex-selective abortions or take SSDs.

Abhijit Das, co-chair of the MenEngage Alliance, a global network of organizations working on gender justice, and director of the Centre for Health and Social Justice (CHSJ) in New Delhi, believes that unless men join the fight, India's sex ratio will worsen.

In 2004, the Pre-Conception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act was amended to deter and punish prenatal sex screening and female foeticide. However, there are concerns that the PCPNDT Act has been ineffectively enforced by authorities.

It is unclear what effect Indian laws have on female foeticide and how they are enforced. In 2009, the United Nations Population Fund and India's National Human Rights Commission asked the Indian government to assess the law's impact. In its 2010 report, the Public Health Foundation of India, a leading research organization, claimed a lack of awareness about the Act in some parts of India, an inactive role of the Appropriate Authorities, ambiguity among some clinics that provide prenatal care services, and the role of a few medical practitioners in disregarding the law. To raise awareness, India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has targeted education and media advertisements to clinics and medical professionals. During its meetings and conferences, the Indian Medical Association has given its members Beti Bachao (save the daughter) badges in an effort to prevent prenatal sex selection. However, according to a recent study by Nandi and Deolalikar (2013), the 1994 PNDT Act may have had a minor impact, preventing 106,000 female foeticides over a decade.

Continued Problem Of Indian Female Foeticide

According to sociologist Pramil Kumar Panda, changing social attitudes toward women and girls takes time. 

That is why, he claims, laws prohibiting female feticide have been ineffective.

Because of the skewed sex ratio, men in some Indian states, such as Haryana, already have a difficult time finding wives. 

Men increasingly approach human smugglers out of desperation, and they supply them with women trafficked from poor families in countries such as Bangladesh.

In turn, these women face a variety of issues in their new homes, ranging from an inability to communicate and adjust to a new culture to being treated as sexual slaves.

Sociologists warn that skewed sex ratios may lead to a deterioration of women's rights in these communities over time, making women more vulnerable to sexual violence.

Effects Of Female Foeticide On Society

When families choose to engage in pre-natal sex selection via illegal ultrasounds or abortions, they have a negative impact on society. Increased gender disparity, a high sex ratio, lives lost, a lack of development, and abuse and violence against women and children are among them. Families frequently fail to consider this spillover, which leads to sex selection and female foeticide, both of which harm society as a whole.

Missing Women

Amartya Sen, one of the first scholars to study high sex ratios and their causes globally, proposed the concept of "missing women" in 1990. To emphasize the gravity of the situation, he calculated the number of women who died as a result of sex-selective abortion or discriminatory practices. He discovered that there were 11% fewer women than "should" have been if China had the natural sex ratio. When this figure was combined with statistics from around the world, it resulted in the discovery of over 100 million missing women. In other words, by the early 1990s, the number of missing women was "greater than the total casualties of all twentieth-century famines" (Sen 1990).

This has caused particular concern because there is a critical shortage of wives. There is already a shortage of women in some rural areas, which is linked to migration to cities (Park and Cho 1995). High male sex ratios and declining birth rates in South Korea and Taiwan have resulted in cross-cultural marriages between local men and foreign women from countries such as mainland China, Vietnam, and the Philippines over several decades. However, sex-selective abortion is not the only cause of this phenomenon; migration and declining fertility are also factors.

Sen contends that in areas with a high proportion of missing women, the care and nutrition provided to female children is linked to the community's perception of their importance. Because of the traditional patriarchal culture in countries where females are eliminated, parents, even mothers, frequently avoid daughters. Boys are more valued in these areas because they are seen as having a more economically productive future, whereas women are not. As parents get older, they can expect a lot more help and support from their independent sons than from their daughters, who, after marriage, effectively become the property of their husbands' families. Even if these daughters are well educated and earn a good living, they have limited opportunities to interact with their biological families. Women are also frequently unable to inherit real estate, so a mother-widow will lose her family's (actually her late husband's) plot of land and become impoverished if she had only daughters. Poor rural families have few resources to distribute among their children, making it more difficult to discriminate against girls.

Even as women are able to afford better healthcare and economic opportunities outside the home, the missing women problem persists due to selective parental valuation of daughters. Specifically, ultrasound technology has exacerbated the issue of missing female children. Parents can use ultrasound to screen out unwanted female fetuses before they are born. Sen calls this inequality "high tech sexism." He concludes that these biases against women are so "entrenched" that even relative economic improvements in the lives of households have only provided these parents with a new way to reject their female children. Sen then argued that, rather than focusing solely on increasing women's economic rights and opportunities outside the home, a greater emphasis should be placed on raising awareness in order to eliminate the strong biases against female children.

Bride Importation And Human Trafficking

Women behave as imports in an international trade market if the import price is lower than the high price of domestic dowries due to a scarcity of women. Because the foreign price is lower than the market price, there are fewer domestic brides than there would be without importation. As a result, limiting females domestically and continually importing them creates a self-fulfilling cycle, and there is no end to the cycle of female feticide if these acts can continue and importation is an option.

Because they have no cultural, regional, or familial ties to their husbands before being brought into their homes, the imported brides are referred to as "paros" and are treated as slaves. According to one field study in Haryana, over 9000 married women are purchased as imported brides from other Indian states. In some areas of Haryana, Rajasthan, and Punjab, this act also results in wife sharing and polyandry by family members, which maintains the gender imbalance if a family can only support one female. Female infanticide, for example, was practiced by the polyandrous Toda of the Nilgiri Hills in southern India in order to maintain a certain demographic imbalance.

Because of the steep decline in the number of girls, they are in short supply in comparison to the growing number of males eligible for marriage. As a result, illegal human trafficking has become common in many areas. Women, often young girls who have just reached puberty, are compelled to marry. Many young girls are taken from their mothers and sold to the highest bidder. Child marriages and pregnancies have serious consequences. When a region participates in the trade of its female population, the psychological cost, both present and future, is alarming.

Gender Gap Disparity

Some scholars argue that as the global gender ratio decreases, there will be an increase in trafficking and sex work (both forced and self-selected), as many men will be willing to go to greater lengths to obtain a sexual partner (Junhong 2001). There have already been reports of women from Vietnam, Myanmar, and North Korea being trafficked and sold into forced marriages in mainland China and Taiwan.  Furthermore, Ullman and Fidell (1989) predicted that as the sex ratio increased, so would pornography and sex-related violent crimes (i.e., rape and molestation).

According to Park and Cho (1995), families with mostly sons in areas with high sex ratios tend to be smaller than those with mostly daughters (because the families with mostly sons appear to have used sex-selective techniques to achieve their "ideal" composition). Large families, particularly in poor areas, have more problems with resource allocation, with daughters frequently receiving fewer resources than sons. Blake (1989) is credited with identifying the link between family size and childhood "quality." As a result, if families with daughters continue to be predominantly large, the social gap between genders is likely to widen as a result of traditional cultural discrimination and a lack of resource availability.

Guttentag and Secord (1983) proposed that when the proportion of males in the world increases, there will be more violence and war.

With each passing decade, the number of girls in India decreases. From 962 and 945 girls for every 1000 boys in 1981 and 1991, respectively, the ratio fell to 914 girls for every 1000 boys in 2011. In China, the ratio is startling: 100 girls for every 118 boys (or 848 girls for 1000 boys). These are just two examples of countries caught in vicious abortion cycles, but there are many more struggling with skewed sex ratios.

Crimes Against Women

Rape, assault, and violence become more common as women become an endangered species. When there are fewer available females, the survivors will have to deal with the reality of surviving in a society fueled by testosterone.

Women who allow female infanticide or abortion are motivated to do so in order to keep their marriage secure. Women are subjected to unequal power dynamics and submit to their own detriment.

The legal system may provide protection, but many crimes, as is the case today, may go undetected due to the girl's fear of isolation, humiliation, and punishment.

Population Decline

With no mothers to bear children (male or female), there will be fewer births, resulting in a population decline. Although population control is a current goal of many countries, including China and India, eradicating one sex is not the way to achieve this goal.

In India, with such very high rates of female foeticides, the female child population aged 0-6 years fell from 78.83 million in 2001 to 75.84 million in 2011. The child sex ratio (0-6 years) fell from 945 to 914 between 1991 and 2011.

In January 2015, the government launched the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign to encourage families to have girl children, prevent female foeticide, and educate the girl child. It also introduced a number of conditional cash transfer schemes, including the Balika Samriddhi Yojana and the Dhanalakshmi Scheme.

The fertility decline (concentrated in firstborn-girl families) benefits not only girls through increased resources per capita, but it may also benefit mothers' health, which is depleted by high levels of fertility motivated by the desire to bear sons. In general, fertility decline has been linked to economic growth, human capital accumulation, and women's empowerment in developing countries. (Anukriti, Bhalotra and Tam 2017)

Reactions To Female Foeticide

Raising awareness of the issue has resulted in a slew of anti-sex-selective abortion campaigns led by celebrities and journalists. A famous Indian actor-director, Aamir Khan, dedicated the first episode of his show Satyamev Jayate, "Daughters Are Precious," to raising awareness of this widespread practice. Western Rajasthan, an area very infamous for this practice of sex-selective abortion, was his focus.

Following the broadcasting of this show, the local government in Rajasthan responded quickly. They would demonstrate the impact of media and nationwide awareness on the issue. Officials have vowed to aggressively and actively establish courts to mete out punitive measures to those who practice sex-based abortion at fast-track speeds. They revoked the licenses of 6 sonography centers and served notices on more than 20 others.

This was done on a smaller scale. Theatre has been used to address cultural intervention. A women's theatre group in Tamil Nadu has produced female infanticide / foeticide based plays such as 'Pacha Mannu’. This play, performed mostly in communities where female infanticide/foeticide are rampant, resulted in a new meaning of a methodology for raising consciousness, opening up new avenues for comprehension and subversion of cultural expressions.

The Mumbai High Court ruled that female foeticide was implied by prenatal sex determination. Sex determination violated a woman's right to life and was unconstitutional in India.

Since the early 2000s, many Indian communities have been involved in the Beti Bachao, or Save Girls, campaign. The campaign uses the media to raise awareness of the gender disparities that contribute to and are exacerbated by sex-selective abortion. Rallies, posters, short videos, and television commercials are among the Beti Bachao activities, some of which are sponsored by state and local governments as well as other organizations. Many Bollywood celebrities have publicly backed the Beti Bachao campaign.

However, for the past 2 years, there has been an additional problem. It has been gripping the whole globe, with India not spared as well. India's health system has been constrained to a bottleneck. The Indian public health facilities have been converted into COVID-19 treatment centers, and personnel have been redirected from specialized duties to coronavirus-related ones.

Because of increased demand and the additional costs of pandemic-related protective equipment, the price of abortion services at private facilities is expected to skyrocket (based on June 2020 findings and analyses), making it even more difficult for economically disadvantaged women.

Because of the delay in access, many people may now have to undergo surgical procedures instead of drug-induced medical abortions, which are only legal up to nine weeks of pregnancy. Others will have to undergo second trimester abortions (12 weeks and up), which are more difficult to carry out because the law requires two doctors, rather than one, to sign off on the procedure.

How To End Female Foeticide

Female foeticide is a major issue in the world, as many girls are denied the right to life simply because they are female. As some societies change over time, as more and more women are given the opportunity to be CEOs, hold management positions, and even run for president, we must remember that not everywhere is as progressive as others. We can improve the lives of these women and promote gender equality around the world by advocating for more education, women empowerment, and raising awareness of these issues.

The population of India is expected to surpass China’s by 2030. In order to support this growing population, the country needs more women. One way to do this is by decreasing rates of female foeticide in India. Female foeticide, or the selective abortion of baby girls due to a preference for male children, has been happening in countries like India for centuries and will continue unless we take action now.

Finally, the government and health-care providers must work together to ensure that accurate information about available services reaches every woman who may require it, allowing her to make informed decisions and receive timely medical care. Because the majority of abortion facilities in India are located in urban areas, this becomes especially important for women who live in rural areas.

It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes the combined efforts of the government, the healthcare sector, and society to ensure that everyone has access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services, even in times of crisis.

So what can be done to address this issue? There is no easy answer, but one thing is for sure: we need to start talking about female foeticide openly and honestly. We need to educate people about the importance of girls, and we need to create a society where they are valued just as highly as boys. Only then will we be able to put an end to this heinous practice once and for all.

There are many ways you can help put an end to this problem: donating your time or money; spreading awareness about the issue; or improving education and status for women in society. Supporting these organizations could be one small change that helps make a big difference!

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