Gender dynamics and abortion decision making behaviour in the South Asian Region: a case study of Punjab, India

Tapash Biswas, Society for Women Workers and Child Labour Elimination, New Delhi

There is hardly any documentation with magnitude of sex selective abortion in India due to lack of evidence on sex selection abortion because, most of the abortion are illegal and not reported. Moreover, lack of reliable information wide regional and rural-urban differences and a thin research base all make it difficult for women health workers, administrations and policy makers for advocating to develop better strategic intervention. One of the key factors that influence the child sex ratio is sex selective abortion through easy accessibility and affordable procedure / technology for sex determination during pregnancy. Apart from the accessibility of the services, socio-economic factors, domestic violence, prevalence of dowry custom and financial pressure on parents further contribute to the scenario of sex selective abortion. The paper shows empirical evidence of the practice of sex selective abortion in South Asia (especially focus on economically developed region as well as backward region) based on pregnancy history of the women and spontaneous and induced abortion and ultra sound status. Paper is based on individual level retrospective data and longitudinal data combined, whenever possible with household, family or macro level information. This paper also examine the extent to which women empowerment and other socio-economic changes occurring in developing countries are shaping power relations within the couple and negotiations strategies on reproductive behaviour / health issues. The qualitative part of the study also showed that partnership between diverse groups of people drawn from different discipline and with different ideologies and positions is possible and productive. Moreover, the collective process of integrating diverse viewpoint enhance the common understanding issue of unsafe abortion and in long run is an essential step in progressing towards the common goal of abortion and frequently used but safe alternative for women faced with an unwanted pregnancy.

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Presented in Session 84: Sexual and reproductive health: abortion