India has 21 million ‘unwanted’ girls

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The desire of Indian parents for sons has created an estimated 21 million “unwanted” girls because couples keep having children until they produce a boy , the government said Monday .

Source: Guardian

Indian parents have historically wanted sons , who are seen as breadwinners and family heirs . Girls are often viewed as a financial burden in a country where the tradition of giving a marriage dowry persists .

Even though sex selection is against the law , illegal gender- based abortions have been blamed for a sex ratio of 940 females for every 1 ,000 males in the last census .

But many couples continued having children until they produced their desired number of sons, the government said in its annual economic survey report .

“Families where a son is born are more likely to stop having children than families where a girl is born . This is suggestive of parents employing ‘stopping rules ’ – – having children till a son is born and stopping thereafter ,” it said .

Couples , particularly women , in India face immense pressure to produce male children and many rural families do not send girls to school , marrying them off young .

But the report said India ’s preference for sons appeared “inoculated to development”, with even wealthier families not immune .

Illegal sex selection and gender -based abortions remain rampant across social and economic groups in the country , according to several studies.

A 2011 study in the British medical journal The Lancet found that up to 12 million girls had been aborted in the last three decades in India .

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