India’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered Yahoo! Inc., Google Inc., and Microsoft Corporation not to display advertisements for sex determination services, according to local media reports. The news comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a speech on the country's deteriorating sex ratio.
The court, in an interim order, said that the companies' websites should not advertise such services on their websites or sponsor the advertisements on their search engines as it violated a section of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PC-PNDT Act) of 1994, which bans prenatal sex determination. The court said that further details would be provided at the next hearing set for Feb. 11, according to NDTV, a local news network.
"India is suffering so much because of sex ratio. Still there is a state of antipathy," the court said, according to India Today, a local news outlet.
The three companies have also been reportedly ordered to update their “policy/terms of services” with the order, which was passed as the court was hearing a petition seeking to block websites that provide sex determination and sex selection techniques.
Last week, Modi had addressed the declining number of girl children in the nation during a campaign launch to address issues that the United Nations has warned could develop into national emergencies.
"In our neighborhood, girls are commonly killed in their mothers' wombs and we don't feel the pain," Modi reportedly said, in a speech in the northern state of Haryana. "We don't have a right to kill our daughters," he said, adding that India must work toward improving its child sex ratio.
Modi's campaign, "Beti Bachao Beti Padhao" (Save the Daughter, Teach the Daughter), is also aimed at improving the country's sex ratio and promote gender equality through education.
U.S. President Barack Obama, during his three-day visit to the country earlier this week, also addressed the issue of sex ratio, stating that the growth of a nation largely depends on the growth of its female population.
Prenatal sex determination, which is illegal in India, is still practiced in several parts of the country, leading to a declining sex ratio. According to U.N. data, the child sex ratio was 918 girls to every 1,000 boys in 2011, compared with 927 in 2001 and 976 in 1961.