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Abstract

The study examined the Nigerian perspective of sex selection vis-a-vis India’s Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique Act, 1994. Sex selection is rampant worldwide despite being prohibited by policies or laws of numerous countries. However, is there a need for prohibition of sex-selection in Nigeria when compared with Indian perspective? The paper adopted both primary and secondary data sources as a means of information. A semi-structured interview of One Hundred (100) participants; fifty (50) Nigerian and fifty (50) Indian by convenience sampling method was conducted. The research revealed that there is sex-imbalance in both countries, as there are more female adults than male adults in Nigeria. In contrast, there are more males than females in India. It was finally concluded that: the focus should be on abolition of barbaric cultures, all forms of discrimination and self-empowerment as a way of education to both genders especially females.
Volume-IV, Issue-V March 2018 71
International Journal of Humanities & Social Science Studies (IJHSSS)
A Peer-Reviewed Bi-monthly Bi-lingual Research Journal
ISSN: 2349-6959 (Online), ISSN: 2349-6711 (Print)
ISJN: A4372-3142 (Online) ISJN: A4372-3143 (Print)
Volume-IV, Issue-VI, May 2018, Page No. 71-89
Published by Scholar Publications, Karimganj, Assam, India, 788711
Website: http://www.ijhsss.com
Comparative Analysis of Sex-Selection in Nigeria and India
Adetutu AINA-PELEMO
Research Scholar, Dept. of Law, Sharda University, Greater-Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
Simran SALUJA
BBA LLB Student. Dept. of Law, Sharda University, Greater-Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
Abstract:
The study examined the Nigerian perspective of sex selection vis-a-vis India’s Pre-
Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique Act, 1994. Sex selection is rampant
worldwide despite being prohibited by policies or laws of numerous countries. However, is
there a need for prohibition of sex-selection in Nigeria when compared with Indian
perspective? The paper adopted both primary and secondary data sources as a means of
information. A semi-structured interview of One Hundred (100) participants; fifty (50)
Nigerian and fifty (50) Indian by convenience sampling method was conducted. The
research reveals that there is sex-imbalance in both countries, as there are more female
adults than male adults in Nigeria. In contrast, there are more males than females in India.
It’s finally concluded that: the focus should be on abolition of barbaric cultures, all forms
of discrimination and self-empowerment as a way of education to the both gender especially
females.
Keywords: Culture; Gender and Family; Personal re-orientation; Self-empowerment;
Sex-Selection; Indian and Nigerian society
1. Introduction: Sex selection simply means preference of a particular sex of an infant or
the control of offspring sex to achieve a desired gender of interest for medical or social
purpose (Bumgarner, 2007). Meanwhile, it is the male child that is being preferred to the
female child in several parts of the world, stretching from North-Africa to South-Asia
(Sinha et al., 2004), particularly in India (Shashi, 2015). This pervasive preference for male
child is due to numerous reasons such as; patriarchal cultural preferences (Ohagwu et al.,
2014; Khatun and Islam, 2011), the power structure of the society, (because of manual labor
and the opinion that women will get married and leave their father’s house while the male
child will continue the lineage and remain the heir of the house), and disparate gender
access to economical position (due to socioeconomic status, people are of the notion that a
male child can strife to access food, healthcare, and assume responsibility while a female
child cannot), the dowry burden to marry out the female child, among others (Basumatary,
Comparative Analysis of Sex-Selection in Nigeria and India A. AINA-PELEMO , Simran SALUJA
Volume-IV, Issue-V March 2018 72
2015). This preference for male child is a pervasive social, cultural, political and economic
injustice against women (UNFPA, 2012).
Bhattacharya and Singh (2016) posited that there are ‘four’ major ways of having a male
child at any cost, .i.e. going through multiple pregnancies till a son is born, sex selective
abortions, pre-conceptional techniques and post-conceptional intake of drugs. The most
rampant is sex-selective abortion i.e. female feticide: once a female foetus is detected by
ultrasound when a woman is pregnant, she aborts the foetus. Glaringly, this situation
becomes worst where the couple cannot afford the cost for technology or there is limited
access to the technology during or before conception of the child so, Basumatary (2015)
revealed that the woman delivers the female child, then kills her or neglects / starves the
female child to death or throws the child into river Ganga for those who lives close to the
river or submerge the baby in a big container of milk or hot water and feed her with salt as
well as burying her alive in an earthen pot. This is referred to as female infanticide. Evans
(1968) however said killing infants has being in practice since the evolution of man in
almost all over the world, but for diverse reasons: mental sickness, religion, culling, family
planning, shame and trade, as well as anger and childbirth psychosis. Albeit, in India,
infanticide was the in thing before the discovery of technology and its prevalence can be
traced to old custom of Hindu civilization (Basumatary, 2015), but rampant amidst the
Rajput and Bengali communities. As medical technology improves, it has been replaced
largely by feticide and sex-selective abortion (George, 2002). After ultrasound machines
became available in India, sex-selective abortions became much more common (Maneesha,
2007). This was to reduce female child birth and lessen future burden.
It is important to note that both feticide and infanticide has led to high female infant
mortality (Khuroo, 2016), and imbalance sex-ratio in the population of India till date; 945
females per 1,000 males (indiaonlinepages.com, 2017). Although, sex selection of male
child has been prohibited by policies or laws of various countries and where it is not
prohibited entirely, it is limited only to medical uses for situations in which an embryo or
foetus might be affected by serious sex-linked diseases (Singh et al., 2017; Bumgarner,
2007). There are about thirty-six (36) countries including India
1
which have prohibited sex
1
INDIA: The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994.
The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994, (Act No. 57
of 1994) was enacted and subsequently amended into The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques
(Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) amended Act, 2002 (N0. 14 of 2003), in order to check
female infanticide and feticide respectively. Rules have also been framed under the Act. Section 3(a)
prohibits determination and disclosure of the sex of foetus while Section 3(b) also prohibits the sale
of ultrasound machine to unregistered medical centers under this Act.i.e. all laboratories, clinics etc.
must be registered under this Act before they can be licensed to use an ultrasound technology. Also,
Section 22(1, 2 & 3) of the Act prohibits any advertisements relating to pre-natal determination of
sex and prescribes imprisonment which may extend to 3years or and fine which may extend to Ten
Comparative Analysis of Sex-Selection in Nigeria and India A. AINA-PELEMO , Simran SALUJA
Volume-IV, Issue-V March 2018 73
selection. However, can prohibition of sex-selective abortion be the long-lasting solution to
this disparity in sex-ratio? Keshav et al. (2017) reported that the illegal practice of sex
selective abortions in India has been curtailed by enforcement of PNDT Act 1994, but the
decrease is not statistically significant.
Some researchers said the solution to disparity in sex-ratio is lifting off the ban of sex
selection and ensuring gender equality (Kalantry, 2013), empowerment of women
(Basumatary 2015), strict implementation of laws (Nawal et al., 2011; Sarabu, 2012),
multidimensional gender sensitive programs (Ganju and Ganju, 2015), creations of
awareness to shed old beliefs (Shashi, 2015), raising the value and importance of women in
the society (Bhattacharya and Singh, 2016), changing the cultural attitudes and giving
women more control over their lives (Madan and Breuning, 2014), monitoring the
effectiveness of the preventive strategies provided by Government (George, 1997) etc. but
little or nothing has been said on the negative effect of sex selection on the victim in term of
maximization of their potentials in life. This study seeks to cover that gap. Nevertheless, sex
selection does not only affect the economic, social and general development of the society,
but it also makes women timid, insecure, and unable to perform as they ought to in all facets
of life. With emphasis; this study focuses on self-development in other to create value to the
reason for the ‘fights’.
The research is of great importance due to the similarities and differences of the
countries of study: Nigeria and India especially in terms of the common law system they
operate (Ziltener and Kunzler, 2015), the well-populated country of their distinct continent
(Jamali and Karam, 2016), cultural disparity, the gendered power structures which is
common throughout the world (Bumgarner, 2007), patriarchal societies, the economy and
sex-ratio of both countries. I begin to reason whether there is need for sex-selection Act in
the first place, especially in Nigeria. Despite the laws here and there, gender-bias is still an
Thousand rupees as punishment for its contravention. The person who contravenes the major
objective of this Act shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years with fine
extending to Fifty Thousand rupees for first offender while second offender will be sanctioned with
an imprisonment which may extend to 5 years with fine which may extend to 0ne Lakh rupees see
Section 23(3) of the Act. India strictly regulates PND [prenatal diagnosis]. The practice is
admissible only in order to detect fetal abnormalities or genetic, metabolic or chromosomal
disorders see Section 4(2) of the Act. Additionally, Section 4(3(i-v) of this Act permits, the conduct
of PND on only pregnant women in one of the following critical conditions: a) is more than thirty-
five years of age, b) has two or more spontaneous abortions, c) has been exposed to potentially
teratogenic agents, such as drugs, radiation, infection, or chemicals, d) she or her spouse has a
family history of mental retardation or physical deformities, such as spasticity or other genetic
disease, or, f) any other condition specified by the state supervisory board.
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Volume-IV, Issue-V March 2018 74
issue of concern in India society. This research argues that there is need for self-discovery
and liberation for the females rather than emphasis on sex-selection prohibition.
1.1 Theory / Historical Perspective of India Sex-Selection: Historically, before the advent
of technology in this field, sex selection was done by fetish means (Sharma, 2001) wherein
a soothsayer or voodoo will be consulted to determine the sex of a child before or during
pregnancy and this was so rampant that people saw it as a normal way of life. Alternatively,
female children were continuously delivered until a male child was delivered into the family
(Bhattacharya and Singh, 2016). Later, in the early 90s, innovative technologies made sex
selection easier through the discovery of ultrasound techniques which subsequently gained
widespread use in India (Nehra, 2015). These actions necessitated the enactment of the Pre-
Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994. The Act
banned Pre-natal sex determination in India since 1994 (Jejeebhoy et al., 2015) and in an
effort to close loopholes contained in this Act, it was further amended in 2002 to include
some salient provisions, especially the technique of pre-conception sex selection within the
ambit of the ‘Act’ which is now known as Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic
Techniques (Amendment) Act, 2003’ (Keshav et al., 2017).
Seema (2013) said; in India, the gender ratios seem to differ with religion. Within the
Sikh population in India, the ratio is 127 boys to 100 girls, while amongst the Christian
population; the ratios are much more even, as low as 104 boys to 100 girls. These average
ratios skew even more dramatically when discussing a second or third child. If the firstborn
child is a girl, the male to female ratio increases to 132 boys to 100 girls. If the first child
and second child born were both female, the sex ratio for the third child increases even
more to 139 boys to 100 girls (Allahbadia, 2002). Due to the skewed sex ratios, there is a
shortage of eligible women for men to marry in certain areas of India and China (UNFPA,
2012).
All these boils down to the strong existent of male preference ideology which denote
that prenatal gender identification technology is being used mainly to restrict female births
and promotes male births (Seema 2013). Interestingly, among all the 29 States and 7 Union
Territories of India, only Kerala have a well-balanced sex-ratio in their region due to the
matriarchal system and maternal feelings (Evans, 1968) that is symbolic with the region
(Ashwin et al., 2015). In fact, Sarabu (2012) in his review study on female foeticide,
reported the 2011 India set-ratio census proved that Kerala have female biased ratio.
1.1.1 Theory / Historical Perspective of Likely Sex-Selection in Nigeria: In all these,
cultures in Africa are not left behind as the discrimination or quest for male child over
female child is all over the world. However, certainly it is not the experience in Nigeria for
most of the reasons for seeking prenatal foetal gender are innocuous because, Nigeria’s sex
ratio at birth is the natural one in the past (Udjo 1991): in (1996-2008) 1.03 boys were born
to 1 girl annually, in (2009-2014) 1.06 to 1 girl (Kaba 2015). The reasons for the sex-ratio
fluctuations in Nigeria are geographical and ethnical in nature. A quick preliminary point
must be made here, no law prohibiting sex selection is necessitated or exists in Nigeria
Comparative Analysis of Sex-Selection in Nigeria and India A. AINA-PELEMO , Simran SALUJA
Volume-IV, Issue-V March 2018 75
though, there appears to be an almost universal desire among parents and families all over
the world who prefer to have a male child. According to Milazzo (2014), it is evidenced that
women in Nigeria would continue to have children until they give birth to the desired sex
composition (Adebowale et al., 2014) which is the major contributory factor in the increase
of population in Nigeria, being the most populated country in Africa.
However, with regard to a significant number of scholarly publications substantiating
the claim that expectant mothers in Nigeria tend to prefer male children, there was no
evidence found that they seek, or performed sex selective abortion (Kaba, 2015). Even
though, thousands of abortions are performed annually in Nigeria for diverse reasons, such
as; extra-marital affairs, incomplete educational attainment, economic hardship, immaturity,
close pregnancy interval, and social stigma (Omideyi et al., 2011; Aderibigbe et al., 2011;
Sedgh et al., 2006). In contrast, Nigerian population is the reverse of India, as females are
more than males (Smith, 2002). Notably at birth, males are more than female in Nigeria;
114 boys for every 100 girls born and it has nothing to do with the seasons of birth
(Oyeniyi, 2012). It indicates that there is no substantial correlation between the sex of infant
and the season of birth because the ratio of male to female infants remains unchanged
through the seasons. While, Onyiriuka and Ikeanyi (2016) reported that season influences
human secondary set-ratio: in dry season, there is higher male births than female births and
in wet season, there is lower male births than female births.
However, from the moment they are born; girls tend to outlive their male counterparts
(Kaba, 2008; Azeez et al., 2007). Kaba (2008), further said that, the variance is due to the
fact that male children are biologically weaker than females and are more likely to die at
birth and during infancy. Male children are also three to four times more likely to have
developmental disorders, take more risks, commit suicide and die violently before
adulthood. Khosla (1980) said this has been the trend all over countries; nature provides a
better survival chances for females, but in India, it is the contrary. It is apposite to note at
this juncture that Nigeria is a country comprising of 36 States with a Federal Capital
Territory, Abuja, sub-divided into 6 geopolitical zones: North-Central, North-East, North-
West, South-East, South-South and South-West. These geopolitical zones are dominated by
the three major tribes, namely: Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa, coupled with about 374 ethnic
group (Adebowale et al., 2014).
Observably, sex ratio at birth in Nigeria may vary from State to States as well as from
tribe to tribe for several reasons. Of 453 respondents, 294 (64.9%) mothers preferred to
have male children in the study conducted in South-South by Inyang-Etoh and Ekanem
(2016). Among the Igbo, male gender preference is a dominant culture and it is strongly
perceived among the Igbo women, in a study conducted among 790 pregnant Igbo women
58.6%, (463/790) preferred male child birth; this may lead women to embrace sex selection
technologies and sex-selective abortion, tilting in favor of males (Ohagwu et al., 2014). In
similar study conducted by Okeke et al. (2015) in Enugu State, 62% (155/250) of their
respondents had preference for male children. In contrast, the study conducted by Egwuatu
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Volume-IV, Issue-V March 2018 76
(1984) on determination of sex ration of births among the Igbo, revealed that the sex ratio
within identical population varies with years, urban and rural areas, place of confinement,
from high in hospitals to low in community health centers. He further found that the sex
ratio at birth for Igbo infants is about 1.04 and referred to that of Yoruba and Hausa as 1.06
/ 1.07 ratios respectively. He however concluded that ratio at birth is influenced by
geographic and genetic distribution. Nnadi (2013) said traditional preference for sons is
deeply rooted in the structure of the Igbo society, sons enjoy great socio-cultural prestige
and some rites are strictly performed by them. Nwokocha (2007) also said male-preferences
remains a lasting cultural value among the Igbos.
Interestingly, studies conducted in South-West, old Western States of Nigeria, and
among the Northern Hausa infants showed bias for male births (Oyeniyi, 2012; Azeez et al.,
2007; Boroffice, 1979; Rehan, 1982; Hesketh et al., 2006). In contrast, data obtained by
Nicholas (1907) and Mosuro (1997) for Ibadan and Lagos showed preference for female
births. Meanwhile, the sample populations selected are from the largest and most populated
places in Nigeria respectively. In the study, only the average secondary sex ratio from
General hospital Ogbomoso, Oyo State showed bias for female births, but data from the
other hospitals showed that more males were born than females during the period of 1995 to
2004. When pooled together, the results produced an average value of 102.7:100, which
shows a little bias for males than females.
However, these statistics were just the sex ratio of children delivered in four major
hospitals in Nigeria and Azeez et al., (2007) further reported that not all records of births are
available in hospitals or birth registries, as births occurring at home, herbal homes
(traditional maternity homes), in family homes and births of unwanted or abandoned infants
go unrecorded. Only 37.3% of births in Nigeria take place within health facilities, so it is
concluded that this statistics study is inconclusive. They further concluded that sex ratio at
birth in African population may vary from area to area. In the data collected from 17
countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, it was revealed that Bantu populations tend to
have slightly (0.989) more female births than male births (Garenne, 2002). Also,
Nigeriadataportal (2016) revealed bias of males than females. However, this result is faulted
as some local governments were not counted due to force majeure and this result is obsolete
as the period of 2006 to 2016 is a long period for drastic change and development in the
society.
2 Research Methodology:
2.1 Participants and procedure
The study was conducted with both Primary and secondary sources, cumulated into
mixed-method. The secondary source involves: studying existing researched published
papers and online websites vi-a-viz the subject matter. While the primary source involves an
interview schedule and focus group discussions amidst 100 participants, enrolled in
undergraduate courses in a global private university in Greater North, Uttar Pradesh, India.
This selection of sample was done in stratified random procedure, 50(100%) Indian
Comparative Analysis of Sex-Selection in Nigeria and India A. AINA-PELEMO , Simran SALUJA
Volume-IV, Issue-V March 2018 77
participants were from law faculty, 35(70%) females, 15(30%) males) and 50(100%)
Nigerian participants 35(70%) males, 15(30%) females), were selected randomly by
convenience sampling from all other faculties of the same institution. I had focus group
discussions with the total participants and subsequently administered the semi-structured
interview schedule to them (Firth et al., 2011; Nawal et al., 2011) which comprises of 10
questions. The study was conducted within May and June, 2016.
Measure:
The first five questions involve demographics: Name, gender, faculty of study, age and
country, while the remaining five questions involves the participants’ knowledge and
perception of the term ‘sex-selection’, which was measured by inferential and simple
arithmetic calculation (Sarabu, 2012).
3 Interview Results: The results revealed gender equal participation (100%), involving
50% female and 50% male students, undergraduates from all faculties of the same
university, within the age range of 20 30 years (83%) and from Nigeria and India.
The five other questions involve the participants’ knowledge and perception of the term
‘sex-selection’ (see Table 1 below).
TABLE 1: Responses on Knowledge and perception of Nigerian and Indian
respondents on sex-ratio & sex-selection
S/N
Items
Frequency
Indian
1.
Are you aware of the term ‘sex-
selection’?
Yes
No
Not sure
Total
47(94%)
3(6%)
0(0%)
50(100%)
2.
Does it affect the growth of the
population?
Yes
No
Not sure
Total
45(90%)
5(10%)
0(0%)
50(100%)
3.
Are female more than the male
in your country?
Yes
No
Not sure
Total
49(98%)
1(2%)
0(0%)
50(100%)
4.
Are you aware of the
prohibition of sex-selection?
Yes
No
Total
22(44%)
28(56%)
50(100%)
5.
What are the measures put in
place by the government to
eradicate sex selection?
Laws
Women
empowerment
No idea
Total
25(50%)
7(14%)
18(36%)
50(100%)
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Volume-IV, Issue-V March 2018 78
4 Discussions: Of the 50 Nigerian respondents interviewed for this study, 44(88%) were of
the opinion that female is more than male, 4(8%) are not sure and 2(4%) opined that males
are more than females. However, in the 2006-2015 reports released by
(NationalBureauofStatisticsNigeria, 2016), it revealed that; in the projected population of
Nigeria in 2015, women constitute 49.5 percent and men 50.5 percent of the population and
the sex ratio dropped from 103 to 102 men per 100 women. These reports are contradictory
to the findings of this study and the earlier discussed works, but concluded that this
disparity could be due to mortality and migration of both gender within the population. The
significance of this finding is that the survey was not conducted on infants or pregnant
women, but on adults, and it shows that females are more than males. It is similar with the
report of (Kaba, 2015) which concluded that the mortality rate of males in Nigeria is higher,
so females lives longer. Kaba (2008) and Azeez et al., (2007) also corroborated this findings
in their studies; saying female infants tends to outlive their male counterparts. Therefore
females are more than males.
James (2004) and Cagnacci et al. (2004) said, the reason for this is not fully understood,
but certain factors can influence sex ratio at birth, such factors could be: sex-preference,
stress, war, several diseases, etc. The interview also revealed that 41(82%) out of the
Nigerian respondents knows nothing about sex-selection while 47(94%) of the Indian
respondents knows what sex selection is and acknowledged that it is rampant due to
numerous reasons, but could not say much about its prohibition. This finding is similar with
that of Varma et al. (2015) where they found that the basic legal knowledge of their
respondents of female feticide is relatively low. Incongruously, Naik et al. (2015) revealed
that nearly 6% (16/270) of their respondents were aware of existence of practice of sex
determination and female feticide in Pondicherry India. In conformity with this finding;
Chaudhary et al. (2010), established that, out of the 527 total population students’ sample,
97.9% were aware of female feticide in Ludhiana, Punjab.
Based on the foregoing, it will be right to say there are more women than men in most
nations specifically in Nigeria except in Asia and North-Africa as postulated by (Sinha et
al., 2004). However, the implication of this recent bias in favor of female against male in
Nigeria majorly affects the Christians in terms of marriage (there are lot of single
marriageable ladies without suitors) while the Muslims can marry more than a wife. This
creates another room for further research on solution to biased sex ratio favoring women
against men in Nigeria.’ Nevertheless, as earlier discussed, sex ratio at birth in Nigeria may
vary from tribe to tribe for several reasons such as; name continuity, inheritance purposes
(Anonymous 2014), future welfare and care of the parent during old age etc.
Although, these reasons do not warrant sex-selection, they caused discrimination and
molestation amidst some tribes of Nigeria. E.g. majority of the women suffer one form of
discrimination or another for not having a male child or for having all female children
because of the wrongful perception of the society that women belong to a subordinate class
and they will get married and move to another home and so, the male children are the ones
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Volume-IV, Issue-V March 2018 79
most likely to inherit any family accumulated wealth or property. This leads us to Nigerian
tribal discussions.
4.1 Nigeria Tribal Discussions: Tribally, as earlier said, we have three major tribes in
Nigeria.i.e. the (Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba) among others; we will consider the Yoruba first-
in those days, women were regarded as property to decorate the house, slaves to keep in the
house and the farm, but gradually that notion changed after the British colonization, when
education became a necessity for the development of the society. But male preference in
this tribe is such that the woman will keep having children until she is able to deliver a male
child otherwise, her husband will marry another wife after her since in Nigeria, polygamous
relationship is a common practice; such that a man can marry many wives, all in a search
for a son (especially the royal families) and such men or husbands are seen as weak men for
being unable to bear a son. While the Igbo tribe is more like the Indians, because they seem
to have similar strong patriarchal and gender sensitive society/culture (Ohagwu et al.,
2014), but are slightly different due to the following facts:
The Igbo have a strong preference for male child (Okeke et al., 2015; Nnadi, 2013;
Nwokocha, 2007), because they believe that only a male child can carry on the lineage.
Thus, only male children are entitled to property / inheritance especially the “obi (the
house of the father) etc. This culture was so stringent then that women who did not have a
male child were not recognized in the society and could not talk when other women were
talking. Some were mistreated and called names by their in-laws and finally when the
husband dies, the daughters would be denied of inheritance customarily. However, the
alternate against this denial was for the woman to remain in the father’s house, continue to
bear the father’s name, get married but never relocate to her husband’s house. Then she
would be regarded as a man or a male child and deemed entitled to the inheritance.
This act became so frightening that even the said daughters were not only
discriminated, but killed in order to be dispossessed of the said inheritance. So, the law took
its course in the case of Augustine Nwofor Mojekwu vs Caroline Mbafor Okechukwu
Mojekwu
2
which marked a turning point in the inheritance rights of women where the court
decided that the ‘Oli-Ekpe’ custom of Nnewi in Anambra State, which discriminates /
denies women or female children of their father’s property or legacy among the Igbos, was
unconstitutional, against public policy, barbaric- and repugnant to natural justice, equity and
good conscience. In furtherance, Justice Nikki Tobi J.C.A. (as he then was) stated that:
Nigeria is an egalitarian society where the civilized sociology does not discriminate
against women. However, there are customs all over which discriminate against
women folk which regard them as inferior to the man folk. That should not be so as
all human beings’ male and female, are born into a free world and are expected to
participate freely without any inhibition on ground of sex
2
. Mojekwu v. Iwuchukwu [2004] 4. S.C. (Pt. II). 1.; (2004) 11 NWLR Pt. 883, P. 196.
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Volume-IV, Issue-V March 2018 80
The Court further condemned the custom to be contrary to human rights guaranteed in the
Nigerian Constitution and in the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of
Discrimination against Women, which prohibit discrimination on the ground of sex
3
.
Also, in the decision of Per Rhode-Vivour of Supreme Court of Nigeria in the case of Mrs.
Lois Chituru Ukeje & 2ors Vs. Mrs. Gladys Ada Ukeje (2004),
4
the appeal was dismissed
for violation of the constitutional provision contained in Section 42(1) (a-b) of the 1999
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
5
Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, emphatically reiterated that;
No matter the circumstances of the birth of a female child, such a child is entitled to
an inheritance from her late father’s estate. Consequently, the Igbo customary law,
which dis-entitles a female child from partaking in the sharing of her deceased
father’s estate, is a breach of the …fundamental rights provision guaranteed to every
Nigerian.
Also, the custom of the Awka people in Anambra State (Igbo speaking state) which
allows married women to be disinherited (thrown out of her matrimonial home) upon the
death of their husbands because they could not produce a male child for their late husbands
was held by Justice Clara Ogunbiyi of the Supreme Court of Nigeria as
6
; punitive,
uncivilized and only intended to protect the selfish perpetuation of male dominance which
is aimed at suppressing the right of the women folk in the given society…” Hence, any
culture that discriminates by reason of God instituted gender differential should be
unforgivingly dealt with.
Remarkably, the transformative decisions in all these notable cases curbed this barbaric
act because the role of women in modern society has changed from what it used to be.
Everywhere, women are assuming more leadership responsibilities than the traditional
society envisaged. Discriminatory practices against females are, therefore, not justifiable
3
Mojekwu Vs. Ejikeme (2000) 5 NWLR Pt. 65 7 P. 402
4
Ukeje V. Ukeje (2014) LPELR-22724(SC); Suit No: SC.224/2004.
5
“42 –(1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion
or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person Be subjected either expressly
by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative
action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizen of Nigeria of other
communities, ethnic groups places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made
subject; or Be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in
Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not
accorded to citizen Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or
political opinions.”
6
Alajemba Uke and Anna Alajiofor. Vs. Albert Iro (2001) 11 NWLR 196
Comparative Analysis of Sex-Selection in Nigeria and India A. AINA-PELEMO , Simran SALUJA
Volume-IV, Issue-V March 2018 81
(Okwusogu, 2015). Also, the Igbo traditional uniqueness is fading speedily as their level of
exposure and sophistication increases by mixing with numerous countries in a search for
greener pasture (Ndiokwere 1998). Fascinatingly, despite this strong male preference nature
of the Igbos, they do not see reasons for sex-selection abortions, because the female child is
mainly recognized as source of wealth or enrichment due to the rigorous process / ceremony
involved in giving their daughter or female child’s hand in marriage. It is apposite to note
that, in Nigeria, men pay dowry during traditional wedding be it Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa
(Omonijo, et al. 2013), but ‘some’ Igbos families collect dowry according to the volume of
knowledge or exposure impacted in the female child. Hence, the suitor is to pay all that has
been invested in the female child from when she was young till the date of marriage.
This implies that if the female child is a foreign school degree graduate or a doctorate
degree holder, then the suitor is likely to pay through his nose. Meanwhile, the prospective
husband does not only pay a fat dowry, but buys a lot of gifts for the prospective bride’s
family. The result is that it makes the fathers value their daughter and give them the best,
believing that he will get it refunded by the prospective husband to the said female child.
Though this act is still in practice and no law has disabused or abolished it, the consequence
is that women from this tribe remains single for a long time since the prospective husbands
or suitors are not up to the task of the requirement for marrying them. Also, some Igbo men
avoid marrying women from their tribes.
4.1.1 Comparative and General discussions: While in India, it is the direct opposite-
Research has it that from many years and technically even till date, traditionally, the female
child pays dowry to her prospective-in-law to marry their son (Madan and Breuning, 2014).
Although, this act has been legally prohibited by the 1985 Dowry Prohibition Act,
7
which I
rarely believe it exists since about 50 years of it enactment. Observably, the female payment
of dowry is still very much in practice (Naik et al., 2015), even among the elites. Madan and
Breuning (2014) revealed that the law has been ineffective and difficult to enforce due to
the pervasive rooted traditions of not reporting the collector and the giver of the dowry. This
failure has stigmatized the female children as burdensome to their fathers and provokes the
society not only to discriminate against the female children but prefers male children
(Vadera et al., 2007).
What is worrisome today, for Indians especially, is that all laws are there to put an end
to sex- selection abortions, but they seem not to be operational (Kejriwal et al., 2012),
because influential people or affluent elites- can still get done what the PCPNDT Act
prohibits in India, from other countries. Only the average or poor classes are restrained by
this Act because, due to the family issues and pressures attached, the average classes can
be informed of the sex of her foetus via a family doctor or closed relatives and get an
abortion done through unsafe, unregulated, illegal, and often high-risk means so, the aim
7
The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (Act No. 28 of 1961) with (maintenance of list of presents to the
bride and bride groom) Rules 1985, cited 1990.
Comparative Analysis of Sex-Selection in Nigeria and India A. AINA-PELEMO , Simran SALUJA
Volume-IV, Issue-V March 2018 82
will still be achieved, rendering the PCPNDT Act nugatory (which signifies that women’s
health are put at risk and male preference still proliferates). A Nigerian adage says; The
solution to head ache is not by cutting off the head’ but by discovering the cause and
confronting it. This implies that the solution to sex selection is discovering why it exists and
taking all substantive measures to totally eradicate ‘it’ from the root.
Hence, restricting access to the technology that allows sex selection, though applauded,
is not an effective solution to male preference, but how well the siege of women
discrimination is removed from the Indian society. It is appropriate to state that this gender
imbalance does not only traumatize women, it’s also massively affects the socio-economic
development of a country generally. E.g. No wives for the men (Sarabu, 2012), it
encourages emigration, increases sexual related offences and sharing of women in and
outside wedlock which will consequently cause familial jeopardy etc. (Chakraborty and
Das, 2013).
The impact of the law and its enforcement vis-à-vis the PCPNDT Act is also unclear as
there are very few prosecutions launched and not many case laws available till date. Despite
the rampage of sex selection in India, one would expect a substantial number of cases.
However, on PCPNDT Act, the Maharashtra state, reported only (5) cases of convictions,
(9) cases on implementation of the Act, (2) cases on constitutionality / validity of the Act,
(12) cases on procedural issues and (1) case on appeal against acquittal, totaling (29) cases
since its enactment (Phansalkar 2014) while Punjab reported (143) cases out of which (90)
were disposed of, (31) were convicted and (22) are still pending (Punjab, 2015). This
implies that a number of cases are unreported or awareness is still lacking.
It is apposite to note at this juncture that: the feminist is of the view that sex selection
ban is deemed as unmitigated contravention of women’s rights to autonomy and should not
be permitted in any country. Kalantry (2013) however, proposed the equality of women and
girls who are already born rather than continuous discrimination against the foetus.
Oomman and Ganatra (2002) stated the reasons why sex selection should be available as a
form of reproductive choice for women, but concluded that only improved status for women
and girls will reduce the demand for sex selection. I posit that emphasis should be on
women/girls self-development, building of confidence other than relying solely on
Government protections and women empowerments.
Thus, in all societies, raising the economic value of girls by enacting laws and
supporting female education would help much more than the global legislative efforts that
curb access to technology and abortion services. Rather than focus on ban of sex selection,
the focus should be eradication of all forms of act leading to women’s discouragement to
work, to own properties, to freedom of life and security, to self-confidence, self-
empowerment and expression and assuming equal positions as men. Women/girls should
start seeing themselves as helpmate and nigh equal with the men (Aina, 2016), rather than
Comparative Analysis of Sex-Selection in Nigeria and India A. AINA-PELEMO , Simran SALUJA
Volume-IV, Issue-V March 2018 83
occupy spaces at home as full-time nannies: they should work to support their husbands in
meeting basic needs just like other developing countries.
In essence, together we can eradicate discrimination and sex selection from the society.
Apparently, all efforts put in place by Indian government to eradicate sex-selection are
commendable, but not enough as compared to the level of impact that this discrimination
against women / girls has gone in the country. More intensive measures are needed to say
bye-bye to sex-selection.
5 Recommendations:
This paper suggests the followings:
Self-empowerment to the existing females;
Believe in yourself in order to convince the world or society to believe in you;
Carry yourself with dignity and never allow the society to undermine you or make
you feel less human, because the Government cannot help individuals with this
instinct even if all provisions are made to eradicate sex-selection and
discrimination;
Parents should treat children equally rather than segregating, molesting and
preferring one sex above the other;
Women should encourage themselves to work just like men, so they can be of
support to their homes or family;
Student should be taught these enactments.i.e. PCPNDT Act, Dowry Prohibition
Act and like Acts under family law in all Indian University curriculum, so they can
know it exists;
Creation of awareness of those enactments is very essential to all. Its
implementation, by law enforcers must be handled significantly and more seriously;
Proper education should be given to both male and female children with accurate
support of the government by means of subsidized school fees, scholarships,
seminars, workshops, trainings etc.;
The Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) should sustainably provide the
government with support, in educating male and female children of their basic
rights;
Stern measures should be put in place by the government to fish out / sanction those
who discriminates by gender in any facets of life;
6 Limitations of Study: This study could be limited in comparability due to little or no
research done in this field based on the author’s knowledge. However, the place of study
could seem as a constraint to this research work. The non-probability sampling method used
could also have varied the result if conducted with probability sampling distribution.
Finally, if the sample size is increased it might further vary the result.
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Volume-IV, Issue-V March 2018 84
7 Conclusions: In all happenings in Nigeria, it could be concluded that there is no need for
an ‘Act’ to prohibit sex selection. Both countries sex-ratio is imbalanced, but this imbalance
in Nigeria; does not warrant the abolition of sex- selection or restriction of Ultrasound, but
eradication of all forms of cultural customs that renders females less human to males. This
paper concludes that the major consequence of sex-selection ban, make the women feel
insecure, timid and unable to express themselves in India. It is high time we re-focus our
research into self-development of females in other to create value to the reason for the
fights. However, the essential general element to reduce sex ratio imbalances are self-
empowerment (by believing in oneself), advocacy, sensitization and awareness-raising
programs conducted by individual, governments, non-governmental organisations and the
society at large.
Although, legal action is an important and necessary element, but is not sufficient on
its own as it has been deemed unproductive by the numbers of cases reported in India from
the enactment of the PCPNDT Act till date. Also, even if the government of India put all
these measures in place, all females need to believe in themselves as first class persons and
second to none, so they must empower themselves and set their goals right. It is not all
about male or female, but about a change of attitude, acceptability and ones’ input in the
society at large. We were all born equal until some decided to treat themselves above
others. Hence, we can reverse the nigh irreversible by a complete change of attitudes.
8 Declaration of Interest
No conflicting interest.
9 Acknowledgement: The author says a big thanks to Research-Scholar Oloketuyi, Sandra
F. for her constructive comments on earlier drafts. I also appreciate Williams, Onyinyechi
C. for the time and knowledge used in proof-reading the paper. God bless you both.
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... 12 61-63 For example, there have been concerns about the increasing cultural preference for male child in Nigeria due to social, political and economic reasons. [65][66][67] In the same context, studies have demonstrated that health needs of girls are often neglected. 68 69 Evidence from Asian and African countries [69][70][71][72] suggests societal discrimination against female child as evidenced by gender selective abortions (due to prenatal sex determination). ...
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