Prime Minister launches “selfie” campaign against sex-selection abortion by promoting equality in India

By Dave Andrusko

IndiaselfiesWe’ve written dozens of articles about sex-selection abortions in India. While prenatal testing for gender is illegal, there have been very few prosecutions.

And because sex-selection abortions are so very widespread, “India’s child sex ratio has deteriorated sharply over the past 20 years, dropping to 918 girls for every 1,000 boys born in 2011 from 945 in 1991,” according to Suryatapa Bhattachary, writing this week from the Wall Street Journal’s New Delhi bureau.

The government of India (and the judiciary) has tried both carrots and sticks. For example, in February, the Indian Supreme Court directed major search engines such as Yahoo, Google, and Bing to no longer carry ads for pre-natal sex selection services. The justices lamented selective abortion, observing

“India is suffering so much because of sex ratio, but still there is a state of antipathy. Despite being banned, selective abortion is taking place and it is a growing problem for this country. This must stopped.”

Bhattachary tells us about one act of gentle persuasion which began last weekend: selfies of dads taken with their daughters.

The initiative came from India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who, though without children himself, “has adopted a campaign to get dads to take pictures of themselves with their daughters, and made it go global,” Bhattachary writes. “Contributors to #SelfieWithDaughter, a hashtag started in the Indian state of Haryana to promote the rights of females in India from the womb to the workplace, posted thousands of photos with their female offspring, sisters, cousins and nieces at Mr. Modi’s request this weekend.”

Some criticized flooding the Twitter-sphere with photos of happy parents (especially dads) with happy daughters as superficial and argued it was a superficial response which did not address root causes, such as a deeply engrained cultural preference for males. But most saw the Prime Minister’s initial as very helpful in sending a message of gender equality.

Even the opposition party “joined in tweeting photos at the premier, using #BetiBachaoBetiPadhao (Save the Daughter, Educate the Daughter),” Bhattachary writes. As for the issue of more substantive action, she noted

On several occasions during his premiership, Mr. Modi has exhorted Indians to correct the gender imbalance in the country. Mr. Modi’s photo campaign resonated around the world, much to the prime minister’s delight.