Top global search engines and websites can be insensitive in tackling India’s objections to advertisements offering pre-natal sex determination tests. They talk of freedom of information, but this freedom violates an Indian law, one which offers a sneaky route out for Indian couples to do such tests to determine the sex of a foetus, and perhaps abort if it’s a girl. India’s skewed sex ratio not only leads to female foeticide but also a shortage of brides in many states. There is little doubt this is a key problem in Indian society, where gender inequality builds up from birth.
The Supreme Court may have found a solution to give more teeth to its repeated pronouncements in this cause célèbre, dealing with attempts to deny sex determination tests to deal with a sociological problem of a skewed sex ratio. A nodal agency to handle complaints against information on the Internet on this sensitive subject may make it mandatory for search engines and websites to take down offending clues to a practice that can only do further damage to those seeking to know the sex of an unborn child. Education and awareness are tools to help mitigate the problem in the long run. But only punitive measures in tackling unscrupulous doctors and clinics offering abortions of girls will help in the Indian context. If leading search engines are given some incentive to take down this information, they would probably oblige much faster. Let’s face the fact that while it’s a sociological goal for us, it’s only commerce for the West.