COLUMN: Be a voice for the voiceless

A woman’s right to choose is one thing, but to abort a fetus on the basis of gender is barbaric and unacceptable.

As a youth columnist, I have strived to discuss topics focusing on university, technology, and confidence-building in my previous columns. But this week, I want to speak on behalf of those who perish before they can even experience the joys of childhood and teenage years – female fetuses that are being aborted because some parents value a male child over a female child.

This is a topic, that up until recent years, has remained in the background because of political correctness or cultural sensitivities. The issues of gender preference and female feticide are controversial. But it is important to raise awareness about these topics among youth, so the next generation can lift the veil of ignorance.

A recent CBC investigation revealed that 15 out of the 22 private three-dimensional ultrasound clinics that CBC reporters visited were willing to perform an ultrasound before 20 weeks gestation.

Gender selection appears to be more popular in certain cultural communities. In Surrey, according to the 2006 census, there are 107 South Asian boys for every 100 girls under the age of 15, and in Delta, the ratio is 106 boys to 100 girls.

The ratio difference is even higher in Abbotsford, where there are 121 South Asian boys per 100 girls.

According to United Nations figures, the normal gender ratio is 102 to 106 males for every 100 girls.

This issue deserves everyone’s attention. It is the responsibility of future parents – our youth – to become aware about the ethical and long-term statistical consequences of gender selection. Youth need to urge the government to support educational programs regarding female feticide.

Dr. Rajendra Kale told CTV in January of this year that “female feticide devalues women completely.”

In a similar tone, Surrey Coun. Barinder Rasode urged South Asians to stop heading to the U.S. for the gender selection services.

In response to controversy over a Washington state clinic offering gender selection through in-vitro fertilization, Rasode told 24-Hours newspaper: “As we see the number of women contributing to society in many, many ways… I think it is very unfortunate these medieval practices would still be thought of by very few in the community.”

It is important for young readers to learn about this topic and raise awareness about this issue in communities across Canada. It is shameful when practices of gender selection afflict a nation that is committed to upholding human rights.

Recently, Rona Ambrose, the Minister for Status of Women in Canada, told CBC: “I think we need to work closely with women’s groups who are speaking out about this issue in certain cultural communities and ensure that people understand that girls and boys are equal under the law.”

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada has even suggested that private ultrasound clinics which are willing to reveal the gender of a fetus under 20 weeks gestation should be banned.

I urge fellow youth to rise and raise their voice against this sensitive, yet vital issue affecting Canadians.

A woman’s right to choose is one thing, but to abort a fetus on the basis of gender is barbaric and unacceptable.

Japreet Lehal is a student at Simon Fraser University Surrey. He writes regularly for The Leader.

Surrey North Delta Leader

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