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Home > News > PTI

British Indians aborting unwanted girls: Report

December 03, 2007 14:18 IST

If you think that selective sex abortion is only widespread in India, you are wrong. It is a practice, which is prevalent in Britain, too, but among women in the Indian community.

Researchers at Oxford University carried out a probe and found that a number of Indian-born women living in Britain are aborting unwanted daughters in order to have more boys -- only because of cultural pressure.

According to their findings, nearly 1,500 girls have gone missing from the birth statistics in England [Images] and Wales since 1990 -- that is, one in 10 girls missing from the list for Indian-born women having their third or fourth child.

"There's a shortfall of girls born to Indian women compared with what would be expected. What I have found is that the proportion of boys over girls has increased over time... it's increased in a way that's not normal. The most probable explanation seems to be sex selective abortion by a minority of mothers born in India," lead researcher Sylvie Dubuc, a population expert, was quoted by The Times as saying.

In fact, the researchers found that many Indian women in Britain are undergoing the sex selective abortion in their home country -- a practice outlawed in India since the 1980s. Ramesh Mehta, the president of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, said that such biases could also prevail in Britain.

"We are aware that it does go on in India. We are surprised and shocked that it's possibly happening in women who are living in this country of Indian origin. We think this is very unfortunate in this day and age -- it's shocking.

"It's very hard to say why this could happen. It could be that the parents themselves feel the pressure to have sons, because of culture or background, rather than from family," he was quoted as saying.

Dr Shailesh Mohite, head of Nair Hospital's forensic medicine department, where the city's only child abuse cell is run by the civic body said, "There is disinterest on the part of the medical fraternity in general to get involved in medico-legal cases and this is something we should try to step out of."

Only one cell for child abuse is inadequate and "we are trying to set two more such cells, one in eastern suburb and the other in western suburbs", Mohite said.

The national convenor of CRPP, Dr Samir Dalwai, pointed out that paediatricians should be alert as well as report and take help of experts in helping the parents and affected children. Practical issues like documentation, record-keeping and, most importantly, reporting and medico legal issues were also discussed in an interactive way with the participants.

"The challenge of dealing with child abuse cannot be met without active and enthusiastic participation of the 16,000 plus paediatricians of the nation," he said, adding such conferences and training programmes will go a long way in helping the victims in India.

Some social workers present at the conference pointed out to the myth that child abuse is restricted to poor children and said measures should be taken to remove such misconceptions, as children from all strata of the society are likely to get trapped in it. 

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