Can India’s Case Against Google Help Stop Gender-Based Abortion?

August 30, 2008 07:00 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
Three Internet giants are being taken to court for hosting ads that facilitate gender-based abortion in India, but is legal action the only way to stop the troubling practice?

The Internet: Abettor of Gender-Based Abortions?

According to BusinessWeek, three dominant American Internet companies are being taken to court by Indian activists for accepting “ads for products enabling expectant parents to learn their fetus’ gender,” fueling the practice of gender-based abortions in India.

BusinessWeek reports, “many Indians prefer boys to girls and so opt for abortion if they discover their fetus is female.” But are lawsuits the best way to fight gender-based abortions, particularly as the three Internet companies, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, are more than wealthy enough to defend themselves?

Dr. Sabu Matthew George seems to think so. According to Information Week, George’s petition asserts that the three Web giants have defied India’s Preconception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Act, which aims to prevent “female feticide.” The Indian Supreme Court has asked the three companies to respond to the petition, but none have done so yet.

Meanwhile, organizations like India’s Save Girl Child are focusing on eradicating illiteracy and poverty, and educating people about female abortions, which could be the first step in thwarting the practice.

Also of note, a July 2008 survey by showed that almost half of Indians are in favor of “government action for discouraging abortion.” Most Indians are not in favor of criminal penalties or fines used as preventative measures for abortion, but the practice does seem to be frowned upon.

Background: Singh steps up

In April 2008, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke out against aborting female fetuses, calling the practice a “national shame.” Singh demanded “stricter enforcement of laws” preventing doctors from revealing the gender of unborn babies. Although it is illegal to say whether the fetus is a boy or girl, Indian doctors commonly leave their patients with obvious clues by saying things like “your child will be a fighter,” according to The Independent.

Singh said, “Growing economic prosperity and education levels have not led to a corresponding mitigation in this acute problem.” For every 1,000 boys born in India, there are only 927 girls born, according to 2001 statistics. In 1981, there were 962 girls to every thousand boys.

Related Topic: Gender-based abortion in Korea, China


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