Sex-Selective Abortions and Children in the Prison System

Two articles were forwarded to me today by readers that I thought I’d pass along.

The first came from a reader–“Ullu”– in Finland. It was a Republica article on Sex-Selective Abortions on the rise in Nepal. The article explains that now that abortions are legal in Nepal, sex-selective abortions are becoming more common. Although doctors can potentially spend up to a year in jail for performing an abortion on women who have an ultra-sound to determine sex, and after finding out the gender, decide to abort the fetus, this has not deterred some doctors from following through on the procedure. Likewise it can be difficult for some physicians to even know whether or not their patients already know the gender prior to an abortive procedure. Some patience cross the border to India for ultrasounds, others simply visit a new health facility to finish the procedure. As one doctor noted, “[Our hospital has] a strict policy of keeping the baby’s gender a secret, but there are many health institutions in the country… Our effort alone cannot control illegal abortion.”

In a country where women, particularly from low-income families, have very little say in their reproductive health, legal safe abortions  in reputed medical facilities are important. However sex-selective abortions, in the words of one community nurse, could effect the overall population of Nepal some day– “We’ll have a dearth of [the] female population this way.”

The second article comes from Sparkly Date Palm who I believe writes from Dubai. She sent a link from BBC about a woman who is “mother” to 35 children, whose own mothers are currently in prisons in Nepal.

Thanks for the links!

7 responses to “Sex-Selective Abortions and Children in the Prison System

  1. I thought it was illegal to learn the sex of the baby from an ultrasound in India, too. A once casually asked a pregnant cousin if she knew the sex yet, and the cousin was shocked at the question because it was illegal to know. The laws could be different in different states, or could have changed since that time…or, it could be an illegal ultrasound.
    I don’t think the problem of “preferring” boy babies will go away until at least the economic barriers of raising daughters is equal to that of raising sons. While daughters are still significantly less likely than sons to be able to take on the family business, or anticipate the option of lucrative careers, or be involved with their parents’ care and well-being once they are married, how can there be equality? And then there’s the expectation of extravagant weddings and under-the-table dowries…it definitely sucks.
    Thanks for bringing good stuff up!

  2. The most unfortunate part of this practice (I am 100% pro-choice and do not judge women for what they do with their bodies) is that when this generation comes to age there will be significantly more males than female and I know that there are tons of single gals in NYC who would love to have that problem, it makes for a pretty unstable population of young males. Look at China and to a lesser extent India.

  3. The abortion story enrages me beyond belief. I find it sickening that so many people have abortions because they find out it is a girl. At the same time, I do understand that most of it comes from societal pressure. Me and Rabindra had an ‘argument’ about this the other day. He’s seen it happen lots of times and thinks it’s not good but it doesn’t really bother him because it’s normal. I find it truly disturbing. It would be entirely different if it’s because the parents could afford the child, if the woman was unmarried or too young, but because it’s a girl and not a son, is appalling.

    I spoke about the lengths families in Nepal go to for a son in my post “Being a woman in Nepal”.

    Sorry but I had to let my rage out!!!

  4. Oops i meant to say if the parents *couldn’t afford the child

  5. I read a very interesting book on the topic a few years ago by Gita Aravamudan, “Disappearing Daughters” (

    What struck me in the book was what something I had not expected – there was what appeared to m to be a perverse link between education and the abortions, seemingly the more affluent and educated women in some parts were more likely to have a sex selective abortion.

    There is also a paper (Determinants of Declining Child Sex Ratio: an empirical study) available here:

    Sorry for adding so many links in the comment and yes, I do blog from Dubai!

    • I have a pet theory that more affluent and educated women of all cultures (including the US) are more likely to use condoms, birth control, and abortion. My reasoning is that the poorest and least educated women have very few experiences of control and power over their lives and decision-making, thus they’ve begun to feel like nothing they do can change anything, so why bother. Women who have had experiences that tell them they can make and follow through on plans can fully believe that these decisions can make a difference!

  6. yet_another_hindu_infidel

    Same happens in india. The problem is the bloody setup of our families. The youngest son inherit his parents. He and his wife are obligated to nurture the father and mother till they die. Hence, the families lay great significance on a male heir.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s