Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, Lawsuits, and the Portals

The Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, Lawsuits, and the Portals

Did you read that the Indian Supreme Court sent notices, to Google, Yahoo, and FaceBook warning them that if ads that market services that help aspiring parents preselect the gender of their child, they will be liable under the Act and subject to punishment?

Hunh, you might be saying?

The law is rather complicated but essentially prevents the advertising of services and techniques that help parents predetermine the gender of their unborn child. The law is not aimed at so called “medical” gender selection, which could for example enable parents to avoid having babies of a gender if their family lineage genetically predisposed them for an illness. Rather, this law is intended to curb what is euphemistically called “elective" gender selection where parents want to have one gender (read: boys) over another (read: girls) for political, economic, misogynist, or other reasons.

The law was enacted in 2000, and was successful in drastically reducing such ads in PRINT, but the web has not been targeted so intensely until now.

Interestingly, the Supreme Court also warned the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Communications and IT that they were also complicit because they took no action against the publishers.

This is a big stir both because of the nature of how web ads work (so many sellers and servers) but also because of the odious nature of this practice. Here’s an article about this vile custom. Over 900,000 girls are killed annually in India. That’s three St. Louses a year, people. What it's about is sexism, having to provide a dowry, and the traditional role of men as earners and women as expenses.

I’m frankly not sure how such tracking would occur given the distributed nature of ad serving, though there must be a way given that genitalia do not often greet our eyes on web pages unless we seek them. You could certainly reduce the number of ads drastically. But eliminate entirely would be tough.

Hey, it’s a country with a billion people – they get to decide how sites can operate in their borders. I mean, China tells them to block content and few even bat an eye. Certainly the number of these ads could be drastically reduced. But here’s an idea to go along with that that might enable the police to focus on the most pressing aspects of the problem: imprison more of the people that kill their daughters, and work to develop a society that values women equally. I’m not saying Google and Yahoo don’t have a role they can play in helping people rethink their misogyny, but using them as Western scapegoats for what is a vastly complex social ill is hardly addressing the real issue, is it?

And hey, I am well aware that the US has some absolutely deplorable practices as well – more murders in US HIGH SCHOOLS annually than in all of Britain, 1 in 101 people now incarcerated, judging the value of women by bust size or marketing t-shirts with slogans like these at the fine purveyors at Abercrombie and Fitch.

(BTW, I can't remmeber where I pulled this graphic from. If it was your site and you want a credit, just drop me a line.)

Oh and continuing to export Camels and Marlboros, and starting new smokers in the developing world as young as 8.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to write.

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