Press Release

08 July 2016

Female Infanticide Worldwide: India ranked No.4, Liechtenstein No.1 in skewed child sex ratio

New Delhi: Releasing its report, “Female Infanticide Worldwide”, the first ever global study on the issue, Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) stated that female infanticide for son preference due to variety of reasons is a worldwide phenomenon with 1.5 million female foetuses being aborted every year.  

i. India ranked No.4, Liechtenstein No.1 in skewed child sex ratio at birth

Analysing the available statistics provided by "CIA World Factbook" on child sex ratio at birth, ACHR's study ranked the top countries in the world on skewed sex ratio at birth as follows:

Rank              Name of the country         Sex ratio at birth
No.1               Liechtenstein                      126 males/100 females
No.2               China                                  115 males/100 female
No.3               Armenia                              113 males/100 females
No.4               India                                   112 males/100 females
No.5               Azerbaijan                           111 males/100 females
No.5               Viet Nam                             111 males/100 females
No.6               Albania                                110 males/ 100 females
No.7               Georgia                                108 males/100 females
No.8               South Korea                        107 males/100 females
No.8               Tunisia                                 107 males/ 100 females
No.9               Nigeria                                 106 males/ 100 female
No.10             Pakistan                               105 males/100 females

ii. Failure of the laws

The report stated that with the exception of South Korea, no other country has been able to reverse child sex ratio at birth in favour of the girls despite adoption of a number of laws and schemes. Several laws in China namely the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Maternal and Infant Health Care of 1994,  Regulations on Administration of Technical Services for Family Planning of 2001  and the Population and Family Planning Law of the People’s Republic of China of 2002 prohibit sex identification of the foetus and sex selective abortions.  In India, the Pre-conception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 (amended in 2003) prohibits sex-selection or disclosure of the sex of the foetus “by words, signs or in any other manner” and prohibits sale of “any ultrasound machine or imaging machine or scanner or any other equipment capable of detecting sex of foetus” to persons, laboratories, clinics, etc. not registered under the Act. In 2002, Nepal amended the Country Code (Muluki Ain) to allow abortion on medical grounds but prohibited sex selective abortions.  The Population Ordinance (2006) and Prime Minister Decree (2006) of Viet Nam prohibit all practices of antenatal foetal sex diagnosis and sex selection. A number of countries such as Armenia and Azerbaijan have been debating legal measures to ban sex selective abortions.

“These measures of the governments have not been fully successful because of the easy access to ultrasonography and weak law enforcement. In China, ultrasound for pre-natal determination of sex can be done for as low as US$3 while entire ultrasound-plus-abortion package is available for about US$150 in India.” – stated Asian Centre for Human Rights.

iii. Reproductive tourism and celebrities promoting sex selection through new technologies

The report highlighted ‘reproductive tourism’ for the purposes of sex selection through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and other new technologies such as Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), Pre-Implantation Genetic Screening (PGS), and sperm-sorting as the next challenge to combat female infanticide. In Thailand where sex selection is not illegal, the Chinese, Indians, and the Eastern Europeans account for over 70-80% of the tourists visiting for purpose of reproduction and over 80% of PGD practices are undertaken for the purpose of sex selection and not for any medical purpose.

“Many celebrities from all over the world have been promoting sex selection of the foetuses through these new technologies and it has domino effects in societies having son preference”- further stated ACHR.

iv. Calls for UN action

“The growing surplus of men has dire consequences for the human race, among others, for causing trafficking of girls/women in the areas having shortage of women and trafficked women facing violence and discrimination.”- also stated ACHR.

Lamenting that Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) fail to specifically refer to sex selective abortion as one of the harmful practices against women, Asian Centre for Human Rights described female infanticide as the worst form of gender discrimination and urged the UN Human Rights Council to review and discuss the impact of existing strategies and initiatives to address female infanticide and make effective recommendations and programme of actions to eliminate female infanticide and foeticide. [Ends]