The Catholic bishops of India have strongly condemned the “horrible practice” of submitting baby girls to sex change surgeries, urging instead the promotion of the dignity of women in society.
The surgery is “the result of a mindset that favors males as a source of profit and sons as of greater value, mortifying the dignity of women,” Fr. Charles Irudayam, secretary of the Indian bishops’ conference’s Committee for Justice, Peace and Development told Fides news agency.
Fr. Anand Muttungal, spokesman for the Council of Bishops of Madhya Pradesh, explained to Fides that the preference for male children is still “a strong factor” for Hindu families who believe a son is necessary for their salvation.
“With the religious factor, the problem becomes large. As a Church of Madhya Pradesh we have expressed our concern and we try to be close to the problems and needs of the people,” he added.
The central India state of Madhya Pradesh has launched an official investigation to stop the practice, known as “genitoplasty.” Already 300 girls under the age of one have undergone the operation in the city of Indore.
The surgery costs $3,200 and its emergence has made Indore a destination for families from other states.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has also opposed the practice. It has called on the government to combat the surgeries by canceling the licenses and registrations of any doctors and hospitals involved and penalizing them.
The organization also wants to know what measures the state government has taken to campaign against the adverse effects of sex change operations as well as female infanticide, the Indian national newspaper The Hindu reports.
Parents and doctors are responsible for the rise of the sex-change surgeries for young girls, Fr. Irudayam said.
“A lot needs to be done – just like what the Church is doing - to spread a culture of equality and to promote the dignity and the rights of women in society. But we have to fight a rooted mindset, and (this) is therefore a work that takes time,” he said.
Fr. Irudayam noted that sex-selective abortion may have killed more than five million young girls in the past 20 years, but a decrease in that number has followed government action.