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Disappearing Daughters Round Table

The new CMAJ study shines a spotlight on a difficult topic - one that Toronto's South Asian and Chinese communities have been talking about privately for many years - the killing of girl fetuses. This practice is well documented in countries like India and China.

Download: Summary of the CMAJ study [200 KB .pdf]

To better understand what is happening around sex selection in the GTA, and the possible implications for policy makers, health care providers, and society as a whole, we convened a panel of leaders from the South Asian and Chinese communities.

Listen to their discussion with Matt Galloway audio (runs 16:07)

Our panelists

Deepa Mattoo

Deepa Mattoo is a lawyer with the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario. She has frontline experience working with south Asian women around the issues of forced marriages and domestic violence.

While she finds female feticide an extreme form of violence against women, she feels more research and debate is required before jumping to conclusions for fear of stigmatizing one cultural community over others.

Baldev Mutta

Baldev Mutta is the Chief Executive Officer of the Punjabi Community Health Services in Peel Region. He has over 30 years of experience working in the field of social work with a focus on addressing issues of violence, substance abuse and mental health in the south Asian community.

While Canada's multicultural mosaic encourages immigrants to preserve their values and culture, he questions what aspects of that culture must be preserved and what must be left behind.

Betty Wu-Lawrence

Betty Wu-Lawrence is a public health nurse with the City of Toronto and president of the Chinese Canadian Nurses Association of Ontario. Having frontline experience working with the Chinese community in Toronto, Betty knows first-hand how boys are more valued than girls.

While the reason for this preference has its roots in ancient Chinese culture, and its more recent one-child policy, she sees no reason for the practice to continue in the Canadian context.

Dr. Prabhat Jha

Prabhat Jha is Director of the Centre for Global Health Research at St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto. He is the lead author of a soon to be published study on selective abortions across Canada, the US and South Africa. His study on the Trends in Selective Abortions of Girls in India published in The Lancet last year established the scope of sex selective abortion across that country.

While there is anecdotal evidence that female feticide is an issue amongst the Indian diaspora here in Canada, Dr. Jha's upcoming study will identify levels of sex selection in Canada.

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