pitching sex-selection opportunities target Indian expatriates in United
Report Source: Kaiser network website. August 15th 2001
Advertisements asking questions such
as "Desire a son?" and "Choosing the sex of your baby: A new scientific
reality," ran in both 'India Abroad' and the 'North American' edition of
The Indian Express and capitalize on "a cultural preference for baby boys,"
the New York Times reports. The ad's target market is immigrants from India,
where a boy is "particularly valued" as a breadwinner who will support
his parents in old age and may be the only child eligible to inherit property.
A girl is "seen as a burden" who requires a "costly dowry" when she marries.
India outlawed sex-determination
tests several years ago in a "still unsuccessful effort to thwart the widespread
practice" of aborting female fetuses, the Times reports. However, these
attitudes can persist after immigration because they are "so deeply ingrained,"
the paper adds. In India, the desire for boys cuts across lines of wealth
and class and "may have intensified" with a trend both in India and among
immigrants to the United States to have smaller families.
According to Dr. Andrew Silverman,
the medical director of gender-selection centers in Manhattan and White
Plains, and Dr. Masood Khatamee, the executive director of the Fertility
Research Foundation, it is not possible to assess how popular sex-determination
tests and gender-selection techniques might be among Indian-Americans,
in part because there are no official statistics. Furthermore, many people
who choose the sex of their child do not wish to discuss it publicly. However,
the Times reports that being singled out as a market for sex selection
procedures distresses some Indian-Americans because the sensitive subject
is "evocative of painful debates" about choice and abortion in India.
India Abroad abruptly dropped the
three ads last week after the newspaper's owner learned about them. Dr.
Shamita Das Dasgupta, a founder of Manavi, a New Jersey group proving counseling
for abused South Asian women, said, "As immigrants, we really had a chance
of starting with a clean, fresh slate. But we also know that's not possible
because we bring our own baggage with us." Dasgupta added, "So it makes
me scared when something like this happens with impunity, where people
are saying, 'We are offering a service the community will practice anyway.'
These practitioners are taking advantage of a practice that is totally
misogynous, and unless the good-thinking people of our community stand
up and let their voices be heard, such practices will continue happening"
(Sachs, New York Times, 8/15).
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