Aborting girls increasingly common practice in India

The World

Story from PRI’s The World. Listen to audio for full report.

According to the most recent census, India has far more boys than girls. Public health experts say the skewed sex ratio is the result of an illegal but increasingly common practice: As Indians become more prosperous and have access to technology that can tell them the sex of a fetus, they are increasingly choosing to abort their girls.

It’s illegal in India for doctors to tell women the sex of their fetus and for women to have abortions based on that information, but the laws are not enforced, and women can easily find out which clinics break the rules.

Anu (not her real name) in Mumbai, India, had four abortions after finding that each pregancy would produce a girl. She says the pressure to have a son grew throughout her marriage. It came from both her husband and her mother-in-law.

“My husband would say, ‘Who will take care of me when I’m old? That’s why you need a son,” Anu explains. “Girls will get married and go to their husband’s house. Who will take care of us?’ It went on like that, him saying, ‘We want a son, we want a son.’”

Anu eventually had four girls and no boys. 

Having four girls is expensive. For his first daughter’s wedding, Anu’s husband Sanjay (not his real name) spent about $9,000 — almost twice his annual income. He says it was just your average Indian wedding. Sanjay plans to take out loans to provide his other three daughters with weddings and possible dowries.

Read full story on The World website.


PRI’s “The World” is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. “The World” is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston. More about The World.

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