In India's losing battle against the abortion of female fetuses, the state of Orissa plans to turn expecting mothers into undercover cops.
The Orissa government has decided to use pregnant women in sting operations to catch clinics and nursing homes that are conducting illegal sex determination tests, as well as abortions for sex selection, the Hindustan Times reports.
Apparently, no one among the state authorities attended elementary school, or they'd know about the basketball under the t-shirt trick.
As Hanna Ingber Win reported for GlobalPost in 2011, as India develops and its middle class grows, the aborting of female fetuses is becoming more common. India’s 2011 census showed that the country’s child sex ratio, the number of girls to boys under age 7, is the worst it has been since India gained independence in 1947.
A natural sex ratio is 105 boys born for every 100 girls. This is to adjust for girls’ slightly higher likelihood of surviving than boys. However, India’s 2011 census showed that the sex ratio for children under age seven is 109 to 100. While not ostensibly a large difference, that ratio equates to 7 million fewer girls than boys under the age of 7 in India, which is home to 1.2 billion people.
Things are particularly bad in Orissa.
The sex ratio in Orissa has declined from 953 females per 1,000 males in 2001 to 934 in 2011. In more than 10 of the state’s 30 districts, the sex ratio is less than 900, the paper said.
Will the stings work? Doubtful. Well, they'll make a few busts. But the problem goes beyond law enforcement.
Sex-selective abortions represent “the dark side of social and economic development,” French demographer and sex-selection expert Christophe Guilmoto told GlobalPost in 2011.
“You empower women, but at the same time old tradition comes back to the fore, and gender preferences are implemented in a much more effective way because of access to technology, information, [and] knowledge.”
There have long been religious, social and economic pressures on Indian families to have a son. Once daughters grow up, they will traditionally get married and go live with their in-laws. Sons, on the other hand, stay home and take care of the parents as they grow old.
Daughters are also more expensive. Where a son brings in money in the form of an (illegal) dowry, a daughter only costs: first for education, to make her marketable, then for the wedding and dowry. In some cases, a poor family with five sons will leapfrog out of poverty into the middle class, purely on the basis of successful procreation, while a family with five daughters and no sons may be prostrated by high-interest debt associated with all those weddings and dowries.