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Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for an end to India’s common practice of killing unborn girls.
Four days after authorities discovered 25 female fetuses in a northern Indian state, Mr. Singh said, “We must end the crime of female feticide. We must eliminate gender disparity.”
A recent study estimated that up to 500,000 unborn girls are killed each year in India, and a British medical journal put the total number of unborn girls killed in the past 20 years at 10 million (Indian experts claim that the number is no more than half that amount).
India has the world’s lowest sex ratio because of this widespread practice. One state has only 798 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of six, well below the world’s average of 1,050 female babies.
Although abortion is legal in India, gender-screening is banned unless for medical purposes. Many doctors have been suspended or prosecuted for carrying out this test.
Girls are often unwanted in Indian families because of the custom of putting money into a dowry at a girl’s birth. The dowries expected for marriage are often far above the financial means of most families in India. If the dowry is not large enough, it can result in the murder of the newlywed woman.
India’s National Crime Records Bureau reported that in 2004, there were 19 dowry-related deaths every day. Women’s organizations claim the number is 10 times higher.
Source: AFP; Reuters