Sunday 1 February 2015

Supreme Court orders search engines to ban ads for pre-natal sex selection

NEW DELHI, January 30, 2015- The Supreme Court of India issued a ruling on Wednesday ordering internet search engines Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft to block ads for clinics that provide pre-natal sex-determination services because of the country's huge gender imbalance due to sex-selective abortion.
Stating that “India is suffering so much because of its sex ratio,” Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C. Pant ordered the three search engines to “forthwith” withdraw these ads, citing them to be in violation of Section 22 of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act.

The Supreme Court directed the search engines to put this order on their policy page and also on the page containing 'terms and conditions of service' to serve as a warning for persons intending to put up such ads.
Moreover, the justices said that in March they would consider a suggestion by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology that the three search engines provide the government with the URLs of sites that advertise pre-natal sex-determination services so they can be blocked or filtered.
Solicitor-General Ranjit Kumar said the government would then be able to “stop the presentation of any kind of thing that relates to sex selection and eventual abortion.”
“Either you [search engines] stop it," Mr. Kumar submitted in court, "or we will do it ourselves at the gateway if you provide us with the details."
Although gender determination tests and sex-selective abortion were officially outlawed in 1994, Indian census records show an ever-increasing ratio of boys to girls due to sex-selective abortion of daughters, because existing laws are not being enforced.
India conducts a census every ten years. According to the 1991 national census, the sex ratio among children aged 0-6 was 934 girls to 1,000 boys. In 2001, there were 927 girls per 1,000 boys, and in 2011 it had dropped to 914 girls per 1,000 boys.
The natural worldwide average sex ratio is 1,050 girls to every 1,000 boys.
Dr. Gursharan Singh Kainth, director of the Guru Arjan Dev Institute of Development Studies in Amritsar, remarked in an article in Eurasia Review: “A cultural preference for sons and the increasing availability of prenatal screening to determine a baby’s sex have helped contribute to a worsening in the ratio, which has been deteriorating rapidly even as the ratio for the population as a whole has improved.”
Some areas in the country, which Dr. Kainth described as the “Bermuda Triangle for girls” in India, register only 774 girls for every 1,000 boys born.
Expressing a deep concern over the “600,000 Indian girls [who] go missing every year,” Dr. Kainth said “the impact on Indian society is grim.”
Despite India’s law prohibiting doctors from reporting the sex of a child to the parents before birth, and the fact that sex selective abortion based on ultrasound scans is illegal, Dr. Kainth observed that, “there are numerous medics who recommend a place that would do it. They are ready to reveal a fetus’s sex for as little as 500 rupees.”
“A skewed sex ratio may be making the lot of women worse,” Dr. Kainth said, pointing out that “robbery, rape and bride trafficking” are associated with societies with “large groups of young single men.”
“Put bluntly, it’s a competition over scarce women. The daughter deficit will create a society that is much less stable and much more volatile than it would be with a more balanced ratio,” Dr. Kainth warned.
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