Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sex-Selective Abortion: India and China

This blog post focuses on India and responses to sex-selective abortion, but the analyses would apply in other places, including China:
Criminalization, regulation, and decriminalization are all inadequate feminist responses to sex selection:

► Criminalization threatens to punish the victims -- women are in a double bind since society pressures them to produce sons but the law penalizes them if they undergo sex-determinative tests or sex-selective abortions. Criminalization thus may compromise women’s health, by pushing them to illegal providers or even the age-old practice of infanticide.

► Regulation also could endanger women, threatening doctor-patient confidentiality and opening women to harassment.

► Decriminalization validates society’s prejudice against the girl child and removes protection for those women who might seek legal defense to resist coercion into sex-selective abortions.

Given the inadequacies of all these alternatives, it is not surprising that non-legal options, campaigns and public initiatives against sex selection, have been noisily pursued.

Such campaigns and initiatives focus on “naming, blaming, and shaming.”

* * *

The shaming techniques penalize the woman, who might be simply acting on her family’s behest, and further ostracize her. The model also involves the invasion of a pregnant woman’s privacy. Monetary incentives to "report" pregnant women raise concerns about false reporting and undue harassment. Finally, the model is also likely unsustainable. The short-term flurry of activity hardly changes the forces under which women are devalued. This is not the desired route for sustainable change.

Acts of resistance to patriarchy by women themselves provide the seeds for real change.
Here's another blog post exploring sex-selective abortion in China.


Sharon said...

A Pakistani friend of mine told me that when her sister, still living in Pakistan, became pregnant, her dr. refused to reveal the sex of the baby prior to birth to avoid requests for female abortion. This was the dr's policy with all patients, but the approach is rare. In India, girls outnumber boys in orphanages 10 to 1.

Vardaan Hospital said...

HEY......!! I really thank you for sharing this useful blog on abortion. Most abortion in India is a mainly sex selective.