New Delhi: Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, called the widespread practice of aborting female fetuses a “national shame,” saying India could no longer ignore this issue if it wanted to be a modern nation.
According to health experts, up to 500,000 female foetuses are being aborted every year due to rampant discrimination against women and deep rooted cultural biases that exist in favour of male children.
“This is a national shame and we must face this challenge squarely here and now,” Singh said at a conference that discussed ways to “Saving the girl child.”
“No nation, society or community can hold its head high and claim to be part of the civilized world if it condones the practice of discriminating against one half of humanity that is represented by women,” he said.
According to him aborting female fetuses was the worst manifestation of this discrimination. UNICEF has cited that nearly 7,000 fewer girls than expected are born every day in India. This is leading to a widening gap in the ratio between men and women with some regions reporting just 798 girls for every thousand boys.
Rampant use of ultrasound technology has instead of empowering women and their families only made the health and social status of women weaker. Though banned in 1991, they continue to thrive clandestinely across the country.
Singh said he would work for stricter enforcement of the laws, but the fight against discrimination needs to start in ever Indian home. “I do not say this as the Prime Minister of India. I say this as the proud father of three daughters. I wish for every girl in our country what I wish for my own daughters,” he said.