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    Monday, September 20, 2004

    It's a Choice, Not a Baby: Parents in India are increasingly choosing not to raise baby girls:

    The methods used in rural areas to kill unborn or newborn girls are varied and shocking. Opium is used, as well as oversalted milk, both of which cause the baby to die a slow and painful death. Midwives are known to hit newborn girls on the head or choke them.

    More modern methods are no less disturbing. Despite being outlawed in 1994 in an effort to stop the practice, ultrasound to determine the sex of a baby is also used to destroy the child in the womb.

    In cities and even rural areas across the country, tens of thousands of ultrasound sex-determination centers and abortion clinics have appeared. Although sex-determination tests have been banned in India since 1994, the ultrasound centers flourish openly throughout the country, often by bribing corrupt police and health officials.

    A doctor in the town of Aligarh, 70 miles southeast of New Delhi, said that many single-room ultrasound centers and private hospitals in the area earn more than three-quarters of their income from sex determination and abortions.

    In a society that still relies on the dowry, girls are only a burden. As they say, "Grooming a girl is like watering a neighbor's garden." So why shouldn't parents have the right to choose? That's the reasoning of at least one or two doctors:

    Dr. Aniruddha Malpani, a top in-vitro fertilization specialist who runs the flourishing Malpani Clinic in Bombay's upmarket Colaba neighborhood, defends freedom of choice for his patients regarding the sex of babies.

    "I have treated about 75 patients, and all of them chose to have sons. In a democracy, people should be allowed to choose the sex of their children," another physician said. "Activists say families should sacrifice themselves for the good of the country. That's nonsense," said the doctor, who insisted on anonymity.

    UPDATE: A reader:

    Just wondering -

    At what point does a market economy kick in and place the burden of dowry on the males? If the next generation really has 8-10% fewer females than males, then wouldn't men have to pay when there is a shortage of women?

    Good point. But I think what happens is, they just do away with dowries.

    posted by Sydney on 9/20/2004 08:01:00 AM 0 comments


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