Sex Selection on the rise among Canadian Sikhs

True to the adage “old habits die hard” immigrants from Punjab and Haryana — states with India’s worst sex ratio – appear to be carrying the practice of female foeticide in Canada where the evil trend has started to raise its ugly head.

The heinous trend of sex selection  is showing up among the Sikh population in Canada, many of whom have migrated from Punjab and Haryana in the last two decades.

The menace was spotted largely among the immigrant Sikhs while the Christians and Muslims do not exhibit this trend.

However, some other South Asian ethnic groups were also found to commit s ex selection . The Canadian Medical Association Journal recently  flagged the issue urging the Canadian government to prohibit disclosure of the sex of a foetus until after 30 weeks of pregnancy to combat sex selection, practised by a section of Indians.

“For Sikhs, there are more than 2 boys per girl for the third child if the two elder children were girls implying a sex ratio that is 100 per cent above the normal. By contrast Asian immigrants who are Christians or Muslims exhibit normal sex ratio, irrespective of parity and sex mix of previous children,” says a study carried out by the National Bureau of Economic Research in Massachusetts.

Sex Selection  happens in India and China by the millions. But it also happens in North America in numbers large enough to distort the male to female ratio in some ethnic groups.

Small numbers cannot be ignored when the issue is about discrimination against women in its most extreme form,” Rajendra Kale, editor-in-chief of the journal, said in his editorial.

According to the 2011 census, India’s child sex ratio dipped to an all time low of 914 and Punjab (846) and Haryana (830). A  Response 

After decades of pitched battles, Canada effectively has no abortion law. It is a medical procedure that, like others, depends on the ethical practice of medicine. The last thing we need is to have women who are making an already-difficult choice, to be grilled about why they are having an abortion. And we know, historically, that when you put restrictions on abortion, you merely drive the practice underground, where it is less safe, and endangers women.

Besides, technology is changing so rapidly that it’s becoming virtually impossible to prevent people from learning the sex of a fetus. Ultrasounds are cheap and portable, you can mail away a blood sample to a lab and, who knows, maybe the iPhone will soon have an app for that.

India, where the practice of sex selection is much more widespread and problematic than in Canada, has had a law in place since 1994 that bans medical professionals from disclosing the sex of a fetus.

“There’s quite a debate about whether it works. There are a lot of loopholes,” said Anant Bhan, a physician and bioethicist at the Sandra Rotman Centre at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Bhan said the solution ultimately is to eradicate the systematic neglect of girls and women that exists in large parts of the world “but that kind of profound societal change is not going to occur overnight.”

In the meantime, you need a whole host of approaches. You need education – and, above all, you need to allow girls to get an education, which opens up economic opportunities. You need to make practices like dowries socially unacceptable. And you need to continue to publish data like the CMAJ has done, drawing attention to these practices so they can be discussed openly, not practised furtively.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michelle Sushikala Brooks
    Feb 14, 2012 @ 23:27:06

    Great to highlight this important subject especially beyond geographical boundaries, please feel free to write an article on this subject and the work your organisation do and send to The Walk and we will publish it.
    now you will also find us on facebook at


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  4. arunferreira
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 17:38:49

    This quite serious and high time the laws are implemented


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