Aborting children because they are girls is to be curbed in China under new Government proposals.
The plans are an attempt to balance the sex ratio in the country, according to the state-run news agency Xinhua.
A Chinese Government document states that using “ultrasonic techniques to conduct non-medical sex determination” should be strictly prohibited.
The document, entitled Outline for the Development of Chinese Children (2011-2020), adds that the social status of rural families raising girls should be improved.
It says that efforts should be made to “eliminate discrimination against girls”.
In May this year it was reported that India now has seven million fewer girls than boys under the age of seven because women are aborting girls due to pressure from families to have boys.
A study published in The Lancet estimated that 12 million girls were aborted in India over the last three decades.
Researchers said that wealthier or more educated women were more likely to abort girls because they could afford to pay for sex tests and abortions.
Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research, said the findings were “worrisome and threatening” because “we always believed when people are rich and educated they will be more socially aware but that is not the case”.
In July this year it was reported that girls as young as one in India are being forced into sex change operations because parents want sons.
Hundreds go under the surgeon’s knife each year before being pumped full of hormone drugs, according to local press reports.
Children’s rights groups were alarmed at the news of forced sex change operations and called for an investigation.