• Thu, Sep 26 - 5:27 pm ET

Gumshoe Pregnant Women Are Doing A Bang Up Job Exposing Sex-Selective Abortion Clinics In India

pink bootiesIn perhaps taking a page from The Daily Telegraph, which constructed a preggo lady sting operation that uncovered doctors willing to perform sex-selective abortions, pregnant women in India are doing the same. And they’re doing such a bang up job that the government is even considering handing out cash rewards for their valiant efforts.

Womensenews.org reports that sex-selective abortions were deemed illegal in 1994 following federal law. But of course, that hasn’t prohibited some clinicians from doing it anyway. In the Indian state of Rajasthan, pregnant women have been reportedly volunteering their time and their bellies to help the state government.

Much like the group of women that The Daily Telegraph put together, the volunteers submit to a sonogram and when a female baby is identified, they feign wanting an abortion. If the clinician agrees, then the women serve as witnesses in court. And that absolutely puts these expectant mothers at risk, which makes volunteers difficult to come by:

The time between the inspection and the court date can be hazardous. That’s when many influential offenders of the federal law against sex-selective abortions are free on bail and often prevail on witnesses with bribes and physical threats to retract their statement.

Another volunteer also shared with the outlet a rather harrowing experience as she awaited the arrival of the rest of the sting:

“The team usually follows discreetly behind and waits outside the center,” [Rani Singh] recalled. “They were to come in after I informed them on the conclusion of the sex determination test. But when I telephoned them at the end of the test, I was told they were caught in a traffic jam. For a moment, even I panicked because if they didn’t come in time to arrest the medical worker, I would have had to actualize my pretense of wanting a sex selective abortion.”

Quick thinking saved Singh from being wheeled in for an abortion. She locked herself in the bathroom until the team arrived.

Singh’s efforts reportedly resulted in the closing of that clinic. Other cases and license suspensions have surfaced in response pregnant women like Singh:

Before 2010, 54 cases had been filed under the sex-selection law for the entire state. By July, that number had reached 562. The Rajasthan Medical Council has suspended 23 doctors’ licenses and brought charges against 153 medical practitioners, the highest of any state in the country…Thanks to women such as Singh, the government has run 20 surprise inspections; seven in the last six months in the state capital, Jaipur.

“We would not have been able to carry out these operations without the help of such women,” said Kishanaram Easharwal, who heads the state unit charged with enforcing the Pre-Conception Pre- Natal Diagnostic Technique Act, the 1994 federal law banning sex-selective abortions. “They play a pivotal role and are our strength. So we do not reveal the identity of the pregnant woman who helps us although we release the news of the inspection and the names of those apprehended by our team,” he told Women’s eNews in an interview in Jaipur.

The state ministry is considering financial rewards for the women who help the inspection operations, Easharwal said. Currently, informants who identify a medical practitioner or sonogram center that is found guilty of carrying out sex determination tests or sex- selective abortions can earn a $1550 reward.

But aside from shutting down clinics — a troublesome victory in that perhaps other clinicians who are not down with sex-selective abortions are therefore no longer accessible — those against sex-selective abortions in India have also been initiating community projects and activism that promote “the importance of girls.”

As one of our readers awesomely articulated, this is the only real way to put an end to sex-selective abortions:

sexselectiveabortionscomment(photo:  ♥ beadic ♥)

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  • LocalMom29

    I’ll admit I’m struggling a bit with this issue. On the one hand, I *completely* agree that the level of gender bias in societies like India where women do not feel comfortable or safe giving birth to a baby girl is deplorable, and on a gut level I feel that sex-selective abortion is morally and ethically disgusting. However, a part of me feels that it is disingenuous for a pro-choice person like myself to support the outlawing of abortions, even for such a disturbing reason. Women have abortions for all kinds of reasons (emotional, financial, health-related) and it’s really not up to me or anyone else to agree or disagree with those reasons. I totally support the other reader’s comment that this is a symptom of a bigger problem and needs to be dealt with on a societal level to support girls and women over the long term so that such decisions are eventually unnecessary.

    • Aldonza

      Yeah, judging the exact reasons someone is having an abortion is a slippery slope. You can’t really be “pro-choice” if you’re only okay with someone having an abortion for reasons that are okay with you. I think the gender bias in India is it’s own problem that definitely needs dealing with, but demonizing women’s choices like this can get equally as dangerous.

  • Anon

    I can’t help being worried that some of those girls who were rejected in-utero are being set up for lives miserable enough that saving their lives doesn’t really save *them.*

  • http://anniedeezy.tumblr.com/ Annie

    I say let them get as many sex-selective abortions as they want, then when they find themselves in the same situation as China, where many heterosexual men are forced to either remain bachelors or find wives outside the country, maybe their attitudes toward women will change.

    Buttholes.