By Elizabeth O’Brien

NEW DEHLI, July 26, 2007 ( – During her inaugural speech on Wednesday, the newly elected and controversial first female President of India called for an end to the murder of unborn babies based on sex-preference.

As she replaced former President Abdul Kalam, reports, 72 year old Pratibha Patil announced, “Empowerment of women is particularly important to me as I believe this leads to the empowerment of the nation.”

She continued, “We must banish malnutrition, social evils, infant mortality and female foeticide.”

Only shortly before Patil’s speech, police discovered 30 bags full of dismembered babies outside an abortion clinic in Eastern India. Specialists believe that the remains were of baby girls, killed because of the preferrence for male children in India. Despite the fact that sonograms and sex-selective abortion are illegal, the law is rarely enforced (see  

In 2006 researchers found that approximately 500,000 unborn female babies were aborted each year in India. They stated that if this number has remained consistent since the advent of ultrasound, then an estimated that 10 million female babies have been murdered in the past 20 years.

Abortion of females has led to a severe demographic imbalace in the ratio between males and females in India. According to the 2001 census, there were only 927 women for every 1,000 men. The increase in the number of male children has led to a heightened level of the trafficking of women within the country, especially in Northern India.

In addition, women are often less educated, receive lower quality health care and undergo sexual harassment as well. Females can be considered more of a burden to their families because of the large dowry that is required by the groom when he receives a girl in marriage.

Addressing some of these issues, Patil also called for “universal education”. Research has shown in the past, however, that women who receive higher education are also more than twice as likely to abort their female babies (see Thus, while education cannot be underestimated, the specific type of education that women will receive, especially as regards reproduction, is also of vital importance.

Prior to her election, Patil generated a storm of controversy by calling on women to discard the traditional headscarf. According to the Washington Post, however, the leader of the ruling Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi, who pushed for the election of Patil, called the presidential inauguration “a special moment for women across the country.” She added, “It shows India is committed to women.”

Some women’s rights activists remain dubious, however, that Patil will be able to make a significant change. The post of President has been described as “largely ceremonial.” Nevertheless, the Ireland Independent reports that other women believe that Patil is a public face of hope for women in India.

  Read previous LifeSiteNews coverage:

  Indian “Genocide” of Girls by Abortion Exposed in New Book “Disappearing Daughters”

  Abortion Doctor in India Jailed Under Female Foeticide Law

  Trafficking of Women Rampant In Northern India: 8 Women for Every 10 Men


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