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Is Ultrasound ads in Canadian Punjabi newspapers promoting female abortion?

Toronto, Aug. 04, 2007
Surinder Singh

According to CBC News, the ads for ultrasound clinics are running in two Punjabi-language newspapers, the Ajit Weekly, based in Mississauga, Ont., and with a B.C. edition, and the Hamdard Weekly, published weekly from Toronto, New York, Vancouver and California are promoting the abortion of female fetuses.

One ad provides a phone number for BC Punjabi as well as English speakers, who will help them to make appointments at Koala Labs, an ultrasound clinic in Blaine, Washington. According to the CBC, the ad states, "You are told the sex immediately."

According to a Statistics Canada census, in Surrey, where nearly a third of the immigrant population is from India, the sex-ratio was highly imbalanced. In 2003, for example, instead of the normal ratio of 105 boys to every 100 girls, "there were 109. In 2000, it was nearly 111, in 1999, 107, and in 1998, 110."

Charan Gill, of the Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society, Surrey claims that these ultrasound ads are being used to encourage sex-selection that results in female children being aborted.

Gill, who fought against the newspaper ads for ultrasound clinics 15 years ago, stated, "It's really, really sad that some newspapers, for sake of money, are misleading the public. The end result is they will tell the sex of the baby so that people that don't want baby girls can abort it."

An Ottawa-based family rights group said that statistics suggest abortions targeting female foetuses are prevalent in the Indian Canadian community, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp reported.

Dr. Stephen Jones, who runs the Koala clinic in Washington, said there's no proof of how couples are using ultrasound data.


In October 9, 2002, India's Supreme Court has ordered state governments to enforce the law and punish clinics that advertise and promote sex-selection abortions.

December 14, 2006, Sex-selective abortion continues to kill almost 7,000 of India’s unborn baby girls every day, an annual United Nations report on children said.

“Nationwide, 7000 fewer girls than expected are born each day, largely due to sex determination,” said the report State of the World’s Children 2007.

“Since 1991, statistics reveal drastic declines in the number of girl children in the most prosperous states and districts--as much as 50-100 fewer girls per 1,000 boys than elsewhere.”

The national average, at 927, is well below the normal worldwide average of 1,050 girls to every 1,000 boys.

In the Punjab and Haryana states, fewer than 800 girls are born to every 1000 boys. Northern Punjab is one of the worst, with just 798 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of six, the AFP reported.

Although the Indian government has made it illegal to perform ultrasounds and abortions for the purpose of sex-selection, the practice is widespread and shows no signs of slowing. Wealthier populations are the worst offenders, since they can afford the cost of testing for gender identification.

Another media group wrote: The idea that female children are less desirable is based in the Indian tradition of arranged marriages in which the bride's father must give a costly dowry to the family of the groom at his daughter's wedding. One advertisement outside of an ultrasound clinic summed it up, "Pay 500 rupees now and save 50,000 later." In India women are often still looked upon as second class citizens, receiving a lower level of education and lower quality health care.

A worldwide gender imbalance of at least 200 million more males than females, caused by the abortion of female babies, according to 2005 world Statistics.