Saturday, November 3, 2012

Gender selection Ads - Google

Search engine Google may be in for some trouble for continuing to display advertisement links of clinics offering gender selection of unborn children. Pro-girl child groups in India have written to the company, asking it to remove these links within a fortnight or face legal action.

On Saturday evening when TOI searched Google for "gender selection India", the first threehat came up were paid ads by in-vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics offering kits to parents so that the gender of their baby can be selected before they conceive. With headings like "Good news! Now you can choose!" and "You can now balance your family", these foreign websites offer "high success rates" in choosing the gender of the unborn child.

On Friday, the Forum Against Sex Selection (FASS), a network of NGOs, activists, lawyers and teachers, wrote to Google about these ads and demanded their immediate removal.

A skewed sex ratio and crimes against the girl child have been dogging India. The recent census revealed that there were only 914 girls per every 1,000 boys in the country. Maharashtra, especially Mumbai, fared even worse with 883 girls per 1,000 boys.

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, an advocate who wrote the letter, said though the ads are of clinics in Dubai and the US, they should not be accessible to netizens in India. "According to a 2008 high court ruling, clinics offering sex selection and sex determination of an unborn child are not allowed anywhere, even on the internet. In 2008, Google was told to remove links of such ads and it had done so then, but the ads are back again. There needs to be constant monitoring on part of the search engine," she said.

Activists said such advertisements give ideas to people about travelling abroad to access technology banned in India. The FASS has also marked a copy of the letter to the cyber crime cell and the pre-conception pre-natal diagnostic techniques cell in Delhi. "We will wait for 15 days for Google's response. If that does not happen, we'll file a case," said Mahabal.

Google, however, denied receiving any such letter from the forum. "The Google advertising program is managed by a set of policies which we develop based on several factors, including legal requirements and user experience. In India, we do not allow ads for the promotion of pre-natal gender determination or preconception sex selection. We take applicable legal requirements extremely seriously and take prompt and effective action in case a violation is reported to us," a spokesperson from Google's office in Hyderabad said, adding that the ads would be removed if there is a complaint.

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