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  Words in the News
  The abortion of female fetuses in India is leading to a drastic reduction in the female population. BBC correspondent Satish Jacob reported.
Indian women

18 November 1999

Abortion of female fetuses in India

  Audio Listen to the first part of the report
    The problem with trying to prevent couples aborting female fetuses in India is that cultural traditions die hard, and a particularly powerful one is that boys are infinitely more desirable than girls. The reason is simple: when parents marry off a daughter, society expects them to give a huge dowry to the boy’s family. This represents an enormous burden that often wipes out a family’s entire savings. But Dr Vinay Aggarwal, coordinator of the Indian Medical Association - or IMA - believes that a fundamental change in attitude is possible. The IMA’s rally in Delhi will kick off a nationwide campaign to educate people about what Dr Aggarwal describes as a degrading and inhuman practice. Estimates of the number of female foetuses being destroyed every year in India vary from two million to five million. According to the IMA, the consequences for Indian society are devastating. He points to the figures of the last census eight years ago which show that, in some parts of India, the population had only 879 women for every thousand males.

aborting: deliberately getting rid of; deliberately ending a pregnancy

fetuses (also spelt foetuses)
: unborn human beings, referring especially to the period of development from 8 weeks until birth

die hard: something that changes or disappears very slowly

infinitely more: much more

dowry: the money or goods a woman's family give to the family of the man that she marries

burden: in this case, something that causes a lot of worry and financial problems

wipes out: to use up completely

rally: a large public meeting in support of something

kick off: start

degrading: making people less important than they really are

points to: draws attention to

census: an official survey of the population of a country

    Read about the background in BBC News Online

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