The Economist magazine estimates that worldwide at least 100 million girls have been aborted, killed or neglected, and that the number is rising.
In countries like India and China this gendercide has amounted to an all out war on girls.
It is staggering that beyond a few platitudinous remarks the population control lobby and their western government backers have been incredibly indifferent.
In India, if sex ratios remain at their current level, 600,000 missing girls in 2011 will become over 10m missing future brides, eighteen years from now.
This in turn will lead to a trade in bride-trafficking and to a plethora of other undesirable social consequences.
Various studies say that the number of Indian girls who have been aborted can be numbered in their millions.
In 2005 The Lancet put the number at 10 million. More recently, Action Aid said the number is closer to 35 million while UNICEF calculates that the number of missing girls is a staggering 50 million. Of course, if abortion is simply just another choice it would be difficult to contest the right of parents to kill their unborn child merely because of its gender.
But not everyone in India accepts that gendercide is simply a matter of choice.
The Society for the Protection of the Girl Child is a new organisation which has been formed to organize, motivate, and educate Indian society in order to bring about progressive and lasting change on behalf of India’s daughters, born and unborn (www.protectgirls.org).
According to the Society the right to choose has resulted in a baby girl being aborted every 12 seconds.
UNICEF put if differently. In their 2006 study “State of the World’s Children” they estimate that 7,000 Indian girls are aborted daily merely because of their sex. UNICEF adds that “Decades of sex determination tests and female foeticide that has acquired genocide proportions are finally catching up with states in India.”
Gendercide in India is a gross violation of human rights. The callous indifference of the population control lobby is mirrored by the failure of successive British governments in ensuring that the UK funding is not used in the pursuit of these shameful policies.
In a six page letter to me the UK Government say that they oppose abortion on grounds of sex selection and that “DFID India does not currently support any family planning organisations to work in India.”
But, what they don’t say is that until 2008 they were funding Marie Stopes International in India. And, worldwide, in 2008-09, they provided £770,000 to Marie Stopes International through four Civil Society Challenge Fund grants. They also made additional grants to MSI through country offices.
When I asked how much of this taxpayers money had been used for overseas abortions the Government refused to say, using their usual excuses and weasel words about not breaking down the figures because it would “incur disproportionate cost.” They also say that they “do not enter the ring on the rights and wrongs of abortion” – yet they have knowingly provided millions of pounds to support abortion, euphemistically describing it as maternal health care.
The UK Government say that their current Indian funds are targeted at three States – Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Orissa.
They say that they are encouraging “enhanced monitoring” to prevent ultrasound equipment being used for gendercide abortions. But, along with the euphemisms, the figures reveal this to be mere tokenism. And look at the outcomes.
Between 2001 and 2011 in all three of these states the ratio of girls born per 1,000 boys has been falling. In 2001 in Madhya Pradesh (singled out by the UK Government as “a partner state”) 932 girls were born for every 1,000 boys. By 2011 it was down further to 912. There has been a similar worsening trend in Bihar with 933 girls born for every 1,000 boys and in Orissa, 934 girls to every 1,000 boys.
The main cause of this gendercide has been the flooding India with ultra sound equipment which all too often is not used to protect the health of a woman or her child but to hunt down girls and eliminate them in a lethal search and destroy mission. It makes abortion easy. It is estimated that there are over 50,000 ultra sound machines undertaking sex selection.
The law has not been enforced; many ultra sound centres remain unregistered; ultra sound is used by unqualified people who are simply out to make money; clinics have been multiplying and no sustained campaign has been waged to deter gendercide. It is reported that in one centre in Mumbai of 8,000 abortions 7,999 were on female foetuses, while a poster campaign in Amritsar promotes gender testing with the words “Better 500 now than 5,000 later!” This refers to the cost of the ultrasound test in comparison with the cost of a dowry for a girl being married.
The Times has described how “All over India, since the 1980s when the country was flooded with cheap ultrasound technology, this mobile killing machine, wielded by doctors with no ethics, has been doing its lethal work.”
Although the UK Government say “we do not directly procure, or provide funding specifically for the purchase of ultrasound equipment” note the ambiguity and the careful use of words.
What they refuse to say, or rule out, is that funding for maternal health has supported the purchase of equipment then relentlessly used for gender testing. Do they pursue an audit trail? Do they inspect UK funded centres to ascertain what goes on there?
In villages where there may be no pure drinking water, no running electricity or sanitation – all things on which development aid should be used – sophisticated ultrasound has been made available. The result has been that no girls have been born in some villages in years and insufficient progress has been made in combating grinding poverty.
In one part of India a recent investigation revealed the scale of what has been underway.
The Times of India reported that in Pune as many as 273 sonography centres in the State had been closed down for breaking the law. They quoted Suresh Gupta, director of State health services, as saying:
“The decision to conduct a massive inspection drive was taken from the highest decision-making level in the state and it was decided to ensure that strict action should be taken against those centres and doctors who indulge in sex determination and sex selective abortions.”
Pune decided on this crack down when provisional figures for the 2011 census found that the child sex ratio had declined by 30 points from 913 in 2001 to 883. In seven districts, – Jalgaon, Jalna, Parbhani, Hingoli, Washim, Buldhana and Beed – there was a decline of more than 50 points.
As these figures reveal, gendercide and its social consequences will haunt India for years to come. But the failure to ensure that British taxpayer’s money has never been used to sustain India’s abortion industry and its gendercide should haunt us too.