India: Eight arrests after selective female abortion racket uncovered

world | Dec 15, 2011 | By Asia News

Ambala – “The right to life is the first of all rights, but it is denied to many girls. This is a horrible crime,” said Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, speaking about a racket of selective female infanticide uncovered by Indian police. Last night, police arrested eight support staff, technicians and nurses, at a hospital in Ambala (Haryana). A couple of doctors, Namarata and Ajay Madan, who ran the criminal scheme, are on the run.

The investigation revealed that sex determination tests were carried out in order to perform abortions on female foetuses. It is not yet clear how many selective abortions were performed, but it is known that the racket extended into the northeastern Indian states of Haryana, Chandigarh, Punjab and Himanachal Pradesh. The couple had been investigated for the same offence in 2004.

The discovery of the racket could just be the tip of the iceberg and have serious consequences for Indian society. The latest census (2011) showed that the sex ratio was just 940.27 females per 1000 males in India.

For Dr. Pascoal Carvalho, of the Pontifical Academy for Life, “selective abortions and female infanticides have resulted in India's skewed sex ratio and is a cause for concern. What is more, contrary to what some might think, the gap is greatest in cities, among the most affluent communities and not in rural areas, among the illiterate. A recent study predicted that India would have 20 per cent more men than women in the next two decades due to sex-selective abortion and preference for boys in some states.”

Female infanticide and foeticide is the tragic consequence of an archaic mentality and traditional cultural practices, namely a deep-rooted preference for sons and the continued practice of dowry. At the same time, fear for the safety of girls also leads to female infanticide. Overall, sex ratio is an important parameter that reflects the status of women in a society.

Hence, “While the law is a powerful instrument of change,” Dr Carvalho noted, it “alone cannot root out this social problem. There has to be a coordinated effort of religious and social, educational and governmental agencies to effect the change.”

“The increasing materialism and secularism in society resulting in God being marginalized in life and society’” are also to blame, Mumbai archbishop told AsiaNews. “Christmas is a time to put God back in the centre of our life and create anew a world of ethics, values and principles.”

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