London, England, Mar 21, 2014 / 01:03 am
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has criticized sex-selective abortion as "simply an appalling practice," and said the British government will work to counter the illegal practice.
Cameron told parliament March 19 that Britain's chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, and the Department of Health are preparing guidance for doctors about sex-selective abortions, intended to counter pressure on some pregnant women to have sons instead of daughters, the British newspaper The Independent reports.
Minister of Parliament Paul Uppal had questioned the prime minister about the practice.
"I've had conversations with people who've told me it's going on and I trust what they are telling me. It's a very subtle pressure on women to have sons," Uppal told The Independent.
"The expectation is there – I've seen it firsthand myself."
Uppal, who is from a Sikh background, said he wanted to "take on the cultural pressure within families to have boys."
He said women sometimes come under pressure "to abort fetuses if they are girls."
An analysis of 2011 census records in England and Wales suggests that as many as 4,500 girls may be "missing" due to sex-targeted abortion practices within some ethnic communities in the U.K. and overseas. The practice is most common among families with South Asian or Afghan heritage, according to the Daily Mail.
In some parts of the U.K., there may be as many as 120 boys for every 100 girls among families' second children, the Daily Mail reports. The natural sex ratio is 105 boys to 100 girls.
U.K. health minister Earl Howe has said that there is no evidence that sex-selective abortions are taking place in the U.K., saying there are other explanations for the findings. However one British-Asian woman, the mother of three boys, told The Independent that she had two abortions after she and her husband's family found that she was pregnant with girls.
"I'm pregnant again and I'm terrified it will happen to me again."
Undercover investigations by the Daily Mail have also found doctors willing to perform sex-selective abortions.
Rani Bilkhu, an official of the women's charity Jeena International, told the Daily Mail in January that "the Government can no longer brush this practice under the carpet as they have done. They are hiding behind political correctness to appease certain migrant communities who practise what I call 'womb terrorism.'"
"This is not a debate about the rights and wrongs of abortion, but an issue of violence against women before they are born."