In India, girls begin to outnumber the boys

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The Independent Online

Campaigners in India's capital, Delhi, are celebrating new figures that show for the first time in decades the number of baby girls being born is more than the total of baby boys.

Having long campaigned against a cultural discrimination towards baby girls which has led to a growth in the aborting of female foetuses, campaigners said figures, which showed that in 2008 1,004 girls were born for every 1,000 boys, could mark a break-through.

Dr Dharm Prakash of the Indian Medical Association, which ran a campaign against aborting girl foetuses, said: "The community has responded to our request that girls should be born." Selective abortion has been illegal for years, but the practice remains rife. There are often reports of police raiding clinics where such operations are performed. In 2007, police in Gurgaon, a satellite city of Delhi, arrested a doctor after the remains of up to 35 foetuses were discovered in his clinic. The government has estimated that up to 10 million girls have been killed, before or immediately after birth, by their parents over the past 20 years.

In Delhi, some credit for the turn-around has been given to the local government's so-called Ladli scheme. Under this project, the government deposits 10,000 rupees (£125) on the the birth of a baby girl and makes subsequent payments as she passes through school. The money is used for further education or to pay for a wedding and setting up home.

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