Indian families offered cash to stop abortion of girl foetuses
Thursday 06 March 2008
India has launched a dramatic initiative to stop the widespread practice of poor families aborting female foetuses by offering cash incentives for them to give birth to the girls and then bring them up.
Families can expect to earn around £1,500 per girl under a government scheme announced this week.
In many parts of India, especially in remote and rural areas, male babies have long been the preferred child of expectant parents. Such is the perceived cost of marrying off a daughter and the contrasting anticipated benefits of having a male child that millions of daughters are often killed before they are born.
The most recent national census suggests the country's gender ratio is 933 females to 1,000 males but in some villages in states such as Uttar Pradesh, the difference is far greater. A recent study published in The Lancet medical journal estimated that around 10 million female foetuses may have been aborted in India over the past 20 years. The new government scheme is designed to end such practices.
"We will pay the money in stages and monitor how they are brought up," India's Women and Child Development Minister, Renuka Chowdhury, told reporters in Delhi this week.
In India, daughters have long been discriminated against for cultural and financial reasons, with families comparing the estimated income a male breadwinner might earn compared to that of a woman. Added to that is a woman's dowry cost that remains part of the marriage tradition in many parts of the country.
The practice has grown with the ease of access to electronic sex determination tests that are routinely made available to expectant couples in the West. Such is the scale of the problem that for more than a decade, the practice of pre-natal sex determination – with a handful of exceptions – has been banned for more than a decade.
And yet such tests and the subsequent abortions of female foetuses continue, even in India's largest urban areas. Last year a doctor in Gurgaon, the hi-tech satellite city adjoining Delhi, was arrested after admitting to aborting more than 250 such foetuses over the past 10 years.
The scheme announced by the Indian authorities will carry a number of requirements if families are to receive the money. The lump sum will be paid once the daughter reaches the age of 18 and can prove that she has been to school. Her nutrition and health will also be checked and for the family to receive the money, the young woman must not be married.
The project will be trialled in the seven states where girls face the worst discrimination – Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
Mrs Chowdhury said: "This will force families to look upon the girl as an asset rather than a liability and will certainly help us save the girl child."
She added she was confident the policy would give a new impetus to changing attitudes. The government is also promoting awareness of women's rights.
- 1 If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 2 David De Gea: Manchester United goalkeeper's £29m move to Real Madrid off - because paperwork 'not done in time'
- 3 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 4 Pansexual: What is it - and when did the term gain popularity?
- 5 New Apple TV release date and price: streaming box and games console will launch in October
Bono's group has made more money from Facebook investment than from all his music
Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
Auschwitz museum defends mist showers installed during heat wave after visitor complains they are reminiscent of gas chambers
Nazi 'gold train': Fire engulfs suspected location of vehicle in Poland
A Chinese journalist has appeared on state television 'confessing' to causing the stock market chaos
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms
£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...
£30000 - £250000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker/ Trainee FX, Stoc...
£30 - 40k + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / ...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is the single governing and regul...