Female foeticide

The very renowned slogan which became the revolution in India- ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP)’ had its grounds on female foeticide.

The question of the hour is, why in many of the families a girl child is so much unwanted?

A woman, who was primarily a girl herself, doesn’t want a girl child in her womb.

To have a selective abortion and encouraging such illegal activities, is how much correct? And to what extent it should hurt someone’s sentiments?

Reasons for the Decline

Society’s requirement for a boy to be the man of the house since we all know that not only India but most of the countries are still male-dominated.

A male is supposed to do manual labor and is believed to provide success to the family lineage. In places where there are high values for the cultural norms which value a male child over a female child for various kinds of social to economical reasons results in a selective abortion.

A son is an “asset” for a family because he earns and supports the family financially and looks after the parents when they get older.

Whereas a daughter is considered as a “ liability”. She will get married off to another family taking along with herself a huge amount of money in dowry. It is also believed that she will not contribute financially to her parents or look after them in their old age. 

Female Foeticide Facts

Female foeticide was much in the news like fire in the late 1990s. Since ultrasound sex discernment technologies arrived in India in the 1980s but it came in many effects in the urban cities of India in the 1990s and by 2000 it became widespread. 

So, out of every 100 women, 98 women started taking steps for aborting a fetus having a girl child. Their steps could have been due to numerous reasons. They might have been forced and tortured to do so or due to the cultural norms they did so.

Male to female sex ratio for India, based on its official census data, from 1941 through 2011. The data suggests the existence of high sex ratios before and after the arrival of ultrasound-based prenatal care and sex screening technologies in India.

Image source: Wikipedia

So, this graph clearly shows that how the sex ratio has been affected before to after the arrival of ultrasound technologies in India.

Around 10 million female fetuses have been illegally aborted in India since the 1990s, and around 500,000 girls were being lost each year.

In 2011, it was discovered that for 106 males there exist only around 100 females. In 2015 it was for every 110 males there existed only 98 females. So, the sex ratio has always been decreasing in terms of girls.

Another is female infanticide which has remained another matter of great concern in India. Although it comes under the criminalized act it remains an under-covered report due to lack of data. 

Major reasons for female infanticide are poverty, dowry system, births to unmarried women, births resulting in deformed infants, lack of financial support, and maternal illnesses such as postpartum depression.

As a result, as mentioned previously the sex ratio has kept on decreasing.

What Law Says for female foeticide?

As per some of the sections under the Indian Penal Code, forced abortion, causing the death of an unborn child or intentionally preventing a child from being born alive, or killing a born girl child are punishable offenses.

  • Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971 India made illegal abortion a criminal offence where other than reasons like medical risk to a mother or a rape case, no one can abort their child.
  • The Pre-Conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) (PCPNDT) Act came in force in 2004. It was introduced to punish prenatal sex screening and female foeticide. However, there are still  concerns related to the enforcement of PCPNDT Act 

Because it has been poorly enforced by authorities.

  • India banned on ultrasound testing in 1996 which bans prenatal sex determination.

There are various other schemes imposed from the state level to the central level in India. These schemes are introduced to eradicate female foeticide and female infanticide. 

  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao
  • Balika Samriddhi Yojana
  • CBSE Udaan Scheme
  • Ladli Scheme of Haryana
  • Karnataka Bhagyashree Scheme

Under these schemes, the Government is providing financial aids as well as extra financial support to the girl child. Still, the rest lies in our hands. The Government can provide schemes and laws but we need to implement them.


Female foeticide and female infanticide can’t descend rapidly, it’s work for years. As India still ranks higher in such cases, we need to think again on a personal level about what each one of us can do to eradicate these roots of myth, misconceptions, and mental illnesses. It’s really difficult to conclude. It’s a matter of so much concern which is still prevailing in most of the nation and worldwide.

By Ishita

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