The Bangladesh High Court has called for the government to justify its stance on allowing prenatal gender detection technology, which groups favouring gender equality and the right to life are seeking to ban.
The court stated that the government must explain its failure to regulate the technology should not be considered as illegal.
Supreme Court lawyer Ishrat Hasan filed a petition in January claiming that the prenatal tests violate constitutional protections for gender equality and a baby’s right to life.
A court order issued on February 4 from the High Court has given government officials six weeks to respond to why they believe such procedures are constitutionally acceptable.
Rita Roselin Costa, who works in women’s ministry for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh, said there is a preference for male babies; that a boy will become the provider and ensure a family’s future financial security.
“In our society people of all religions – Muslims, Hindus and Christians – prefer a son over a daughter while having their first child. Behind this deep-rooted social practice is our patriarchal societal system,” she said.
Dr Edward Pallab Rozario, head of the community health and natural family planning for Caritas Bangladesh, says mothers face significant pressure to abort a child if they learn that they are having a girl.
He noted that in neighbouring India there is already a law banning the gender detection of unborn babies, and voiced hope that Bangladesh will follow suit.
“All human beings are created by God and we must welcome each and every one, men and women, boys or girls alike. This is our responsibility to welcome each child as a gift from God,” he stressed.