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Women in India

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Women in India

In the streets of India one finds increasingly fewer little girls. You can look in classrooms, streets, and homes to notice that the number of female children is in fact, diminishing. Although a female minority is not a new thing in India, the percentage of women to men has declined steeply. Radhika Balakrishnan reports that national censuses show the sex ratio went from 972 women for every 1000 men in the year 1901 to 936 women for every 1000 men in the year 1981. This number continued to decline to 927 per 1000 in 1991. It is not that female babies are less frequently conceived or more susceptible to disease, but rather that they are killed upon birth, or in some cases not born at all. Modern ultrasonic technology and mobility of the machines that are used to perform ultrasounds have made sex screening a regular practice in India. That availability, in combination with the traditional patriarchal preference for male children, has caused the trend of mass female feticide. Balakrishnan says that from June 1976 to June 1977 one hospital recorded 700 prenatal sex determinations, of which 250 were male and 450 were female. 430 of the female fetuses were aborted, whereas all the males were kept.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971, or the MTP, made abortion legal in India, but many laws have since been passed in attempts to limit and punish unauthorized procedures. These, however, are hard to enforce. Unrecognized clinics and private practitioners perform illegal abortions for a nice profit for those who are unable to travel to certified centers. These illegal abortions are often fatal for the mother as well. A 1994 study attributed 20 percent of the maternal deaths from septi...

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...the number of maternal deaths, we would see more harm done to the overall population. Is there no hope for the future? Although there is no clear answer to this problem, we must not say that this cause is hopeless. The process of reform has already begun. We are in the first stage: recognition.

Works Cited

"Missing Sisters." The Economist , Volume 367, Number 8320, April 19 th - 25 th 2003, p. 36.

"RS Passes Bill to Check Female Foeticide." The Hindu , July 18, 2002 www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2002/07/18/stories/2002071802091300.htm .

Radhika Balakrishnan, "The Social Context of Sex Selection and the Politics of Abortion in India.

" Power and Decision: the Social Control of Reproduction , Cambridge: Harvard School of Public Health , 1994), pp. 267-286, found through www.hsph.harvard.edu/rt21/medicalization/BALAKRISHNANSocial_Context.html .
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