By Hilary White

  NEW DELHI, April 25, 2008 ( – The government of India has announced that it will be cracking down on the illegal sex-selective abortions that have resulted in the loss of over 10 million baby girls in the last two decades. The law will be changed to allow for tougher penalties for doctors who determine the sex of the child before offering abortion.

  Pre-natal sex-determining tests are illegal in India but the law is widely ignored and rarely prosecuted. The government blames the lack of penalties. Under the existing act doctors can be suspended, fined 50,000 rupees (£625 or $1250 Cn.) or given a three month jail term. The Indian health minister, Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, wants offending doctors to lose their license to practise permanently, fines increased to 700,000 rupees and prison sentences increased to three years.

  Despite growing alarm in government and among women’s rights activists, the problem of sex-selective abortion and female infanticide continues to grow. Critics of the government’s various schemes say that the problem is enforcement in a climate where the law is openly ignored. Police have only rarely laid charges and since the law was passed in 1994 only one doctor has been convicted of illegally aborting baby girls.

  The Guardian quotes Sabu George, a Delhi-based researcher who works on female foeticide, who said, “Hundreds of thousands of sex selective abortions happen every year, yet only a few hundred doctors are caught. Conviction rates are ridiculously low. But the real problem is getting state police to catch these criminal doctors.”

  The killing of baby girls in India is not restricted to abortion and infanticide is a common solution to the “problem” of a girl baby. In February 2007, Police in central India found 390 body parts from pre-born and newborn baby girls buried behind the Christian Mission Hospital in Ratlam, a town in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

  After this, an attempt was made by government to set up and promote a system by which poor Indians could deposit unwanted baby girls at “cradle centres”, rather than killing them. But the attempt failed, reportedly bogged down in bureaucratic mire.

  The Guardian reports that aborting baby girls is so popular among Indian parents that 900,000 girls are now “being lost” every year and it is believed that as many as 7000 baby girls are aborted per day. The pro-abortion international aid organisation UNICEF estimates that 50 million girls have “gone missing” from Indian society through abortion and infanticide.

  Boys are preferred to girls because of the tradition that says they will work to support parents in old age, whereas girls leave the family and require a dowry for marriage. Referring to the future dowry of a baby girl, some sex-selection clinics advertise “600 rupees now, save 50,000 rupees later”.

  India’s gender imbalance continues to increase, despite the law. The number of girls born per 1,000 boys born fell from 945 to 927 between 1991 and 2001 and many districts report as few as 800 girls for every 1,000 boys.

  Read related coverage:

  Hundreds of Women March to Protest Illegal Female Abortion in India

“Gendercide” – Abortion and Infanticide of Girls Leading to Lop-Sided Demographics

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