Pregnant Women Volunteer to Prevent Sex-Selective Abortion in India
Being pregnant can be scary enough. Your hormones are changing drastically so you find yourself moody, craving strange foods, nauseous, gaining weight, feeling aches and pains in places you never had pain before, forgetting things you never had trouble remembering, or falling asleep on the couch at 6:30 in the evening because you are downright exhausted. This is all aside from the fact that you are now solely responsible for the wellbeing of your unborn child; you have to eat right, stay away from physically harmful situations, and try not to stress out too much. No pressure, right?
As if that pressure weren’t enough, some pregnant women in India are volunteering to go into certain clinics, pretend they want an abortion if the sex of their fetus is female, and call an investigative team in to arrest the practitioners willing to perform the sex-selective abortion.
These women, who are pregnant, will schedule an appointment with a doctor suspected of providing sex-selective abortions. They will tell the doctor that they want an abortion if their unborn child is female. If the doctors agree to the procedure, the women will call a team to the hospital, and that team will do an investigation. After the doctors have been arrested, the women will serve as witnesses against them at their trial. All of this is incredibly brave, especially considering they are not only putting their own lives at risk, but the lives of their unborn children, too.
Sex-selective abortion has been illegal in India since 1994. In fact, it is a federal law. However, there are still many practitioners who are willing to perform such abortions, especially in rural areas, and the number is rising. According to Women’s E-News, before 2010, 54 sex-selection cases had been filed. By July 2013, however, the number jumped to 562.
In the state of Rajasthan, most people prefer sons, which means that, as of 2011, they have a child sex ratio of 888 girls for every 1000 boys. In 2001, they had 946 girls for every 1000 boys. Doubting that this was just the luck of the draw, women in Rajasthan have been risking their lives, and those of their unborn children, to bring these doctors to justice. Because of their bravery, the Rajasthan medical council has brought charges against 153 practitioners and suspended 23 doctors’ licenses because they had been willing to perform sex-selective abortions.
In order to ensure their safety, the state of Rajasthan has an entire police station that is devoted just to handling these charges. They also never release the names of the women who go undercover; doing so could truly put their lives in danger. Most doctors who have been arrested on these charges make bail easily and are out on the streets in a short time. Furthermore, although it does not ensure their safety, the women who go to these clinics receive a $1,550 reward, something the state is trying to increase.
The bravery of these women should be applauded. They are making a true difference in their country by upholding the law and fighting to lift the stigma of giving birth to girls. Their work is of the utmost importance, and, as such, they should be celebrated.
Photo Credit: legends2k