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SC asks search engines to stop sex determination ads

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship programme Beti Padhao Beti Bachao has got a push from none other than the apex court of the country. In a tough stand aimed at saving the girl child, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered Yahoo, Google and Microsoft’s Bing to stop displaying ads for sex determination tests as India tries to battle its skewed sex ratio.

Despite being banned, selective abortion is a growing problem. The top court said it will give further and detailed instructions at the next hearing on February 11.  

Wednesday’s order was based on a PIL that said though pre-birth sex determination tests are illegal, ads for them are displayed on major search engines.  Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an impassioned speech as he launched a campaign to address the problem that the United Nations has said amounts to a national emergency.

“In our neighbourhood, girls are commonly killed in their mothers’ wombs and we don’t feel the pain,” Modi said in a speech in Haryana. “We don’t have a right to kill our daughters,” he said, stressing that India must improve its child sex ratio - the number of girls born for every 1,000 boys.

Representatives for Google and the others argued that if they block key words that allow the ads to pop up on their search engines, all content related to the topic of sex determination will not show - for example, they said, the Prime Minister’s speech last week on the girl child would not display
in a search.

India’s child sex ratio dropped from 964 in 1971 to a low of 918 in 2011, according to UN data. Between 2001 and 2011, the decline was seen in more than two-thirds of the districts in the nation.

The problem is worse in urban areas, numbers show. In 2011, Delhi, the capital region, had one of the lowest child sex ratios of any state, with 871 girls born for every 1,000 boys.
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