BBC: Struggling with India's Gender Bias

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Life on the Edge - No Country for Young Girls?

The number of female foetuses being aborted in India is rising, as ultrasound is increasingly used to predict the sex of babies.

The BBC World news series, Life on the Edge, travels across India with a young mother to find out why the country is still such a tough place to be a woman. Steve Bradshaw reports.

What would you do if your husband's family does not want you to have daughters - and insists you take steps to make sure it does not happen?

Would you walk out or would you stay on and take a chance?

What if the bias against girls is reflected across society? Does that mean you cannot make it on your own?

Vaijanti is an Indian woman who says she faces this dilemma.

She lives in the city of Agra, home to the Taj Mahal, perhaps the world's most famous monument to a woman, the wife of a Mughal emperor.

"I had a lot of dreams in my heart," Vaijanti says, "just like in the movies... but now I think of love as a betrayal."

Vaijanti has taken her husband to court, saying he and his family insisted that she have an abortion because a scan showed she was expecting a girl.

Having already had one daughter, she says the pressure to abort the second child was intense.

So Vaijanti moved out of the marital home and now lives apart from her husband - with her two girls.

Gender skew

Testing and aborting for gender selection are illegal in India and Vaijanti's husband and in-laws deny the charges against them.

Despite the obvious bitterness between her and her husband's family, reconciliation is still possible.

Girl child
Girls still face discrimination in modern Indian society

But Vaijanti was unsure of what to do next. We wanted to find out if she thought India really is a country biased against young girls.

Despite the law, some Indians clearly are using ultrasound techniques to scan for female foetuses, in order to abort them.

Figures suggest as many as a million such foetuses could be aborted every year in India.

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