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Are You Having a Boy or an Abortion?

March 22, 2019

Are You Having a Boy or an Abortion?



You have probably heard this line a couple of times throughout your life. It can seem like a piece of harmless humor, but it’s poking fun at a very real issue through biting satire.

You may even know that this line comes from the Dictator (2012), where Sacha Baron Cohen plays an autocratic ruler of a fictional middle eastern nation.

With this crass one liner, Sacha Baron Cohen shed some spotlight on an issue that, although important, few are aware of.

Sex selective abortions, where the primary motive of abortion is the gender of the fetus, is not only real, but shockingly common.

In 2010, around 124 million women were ‘missing’: they had been aborted by parents who didn’t want a female child. According to an UNFPA article, this number is predicted to climb to 142 million women by 2020.

Sex selective feticide is not a new phenomenon. In certain countries, like India and China, the sex ratio of men to women have often been unnaturally high, often reaching a ratio of 130 boys per 100 girls, whereas 106 boys to 100 girls is the norm. This reflects a clear preference for sons over daughters.

The availability of technological tools such ultrasounds have played into this macabre preference. When parents become aware of the gender of a foetus during an ultrasound procedure or similar methods of prenatal screening, those who prefer sons may then opt for a sex selective abortion.

“My husband didn’t want another girl. When I was five months pregnant I was forced to abort. (In his eyes) girls would depart and the money would leave with them,” said Pooja Salut, Ahmedabad, married to a multimillionaire industralist.

As illustrated by Ms. Salut’s case, sometimes sons are valued significantly more than daughters. In some places, only sons can inherit their parents’ wealth and assets, and they alone are expected to care for ageing parents and conduct the last rites for their parents.

Sons are considered flagbearers of the family name, while daughters are seen as burdens, especially if an expensive dowry is requested by the groom’s side while discussing marriage.

In India, daughters are categorically labeled as second class children, clearly inferior in terms of value to a son. Daughters, once married, often reside with their in laws, and are thus unable to take care of their parents in old age. Daughters don’t continue the family name, and daughters cannot help their fathers in work, especially if said work is physically intensive in nature.

. . .

“If this can happen to me it can happen to (my daughters) when they grow up. And that is the reason I’m fighting it.”

That’s Mitu Khurana from Delhi, who had to battle her in laws when they tried to pressurize her into aborting her pregnancy, having illegally obtained knowledge of the gender of the twins she was carrying to term.


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