The unwelcome sex
Khagendra Bikram Dahal and Sulakshana Tripathi report on female feticide in India
- By: Khagendra Bikram Dahal, Sulakshana Tripathi
She is 18 weeks pregnant. The woman looks anxiously at the face of the ultrasound technician as he scans her abdomen. As he looks at the monitor, the technician suddenly frowns without saying anything. She understands—she has a female fetus inside her. She takes a deep breath. The brightness of her face is already gone.
“Oh my God, this means that I will have to have an abortion again, for the second time,” she cries helplessly.
In many prenatal diagnostic centres in India, frowning is used as a means to express that the fetus being examined is female. A smile indicates the fetus is male. The technician, however, mentions none of this in his report. Prenatal determination of the sex of a fetus is illegal in India. But once known, the fetus may be terminated if it is female—a phenomenon known as female feticide.
The risks to women of repeated