Gender Determination: India vs. England

It’s become a milestone that the majority of expectant parents look forward to, about five months into pregnancy, discovering whether they have a son or a daughter swimming around in that cosy womb. Once they find out, names are finalised and pink or blue clothes purchased before their babes see sunlight. My friends, my sister, basically everyone I know with children, before I moved to India, found out whether they were carrying a boy or a girl at their twenty week ultrasound scan. Meanwhile, before my twenty week scan, I had to sign a legal document saying I wouldn’t ask the gender of my child.

Gender determination in India is illegal. Every medical facility I have been to have posters stating that it doesn’t occur there. When I first found out, I was surprised, discovering the gender before a baby is born felt so normal to me. In India, breaking this law carries fines and jail time for everyone involved, doctors and entire families included. Furthermore, buying baby items before the baby is born is considered to be bad luck by many and names are often chosen based on birth charts.

I really thought I was having a girl, everyone kept telling me I would. I have four sisters, no brothers, and my mum is one of five girls too (no boys there either). My sister has a daughter, our family is short on Y chromosomes. The law is in place for a very good reason, so I didn’t feel frustrated with it, and I had convinced myself I would be having a daughter. During my Indian baby shower, we played a game which predicted a girl. My Indian family have the opposite, a lot of boys, so everyone was very pleased. I didn’t have a preference, I just want lots beautiful of babies.


When I got back to England, I had an ultrasound and I found out I was having a son. I had waited ten weeks longer than I would have done if I had been pregnant in England, so it felt surreal to finally know. I felt so certain Rohan was a girl, I’m obviously not much of a psychic. My Indian family knew I was going to find out but they didn’t want to know, they wanted the surprise (and I’m guessing it’s seen as taboo).

A couple of days before Rohan was born, I was in Devizes market (I was walking everywhere, trying convince Rohan to make an appearance) and an elderly lady grabbed my bump. Absolutely startled, I just looked at her. “Is this for sale?”, she asked, hands still clutching my stomach. I laughed nervously and threw a confused look at my sister. “You are huge, do you think you should be out?”. “They tell me he is a big baby”. She gasped and withdrew her hands. “You naughty girl, you should have waited. You young people have no patience”. Then, she wandered off…

Part of me regrets finding out because it would have been really fun to have the surprise, I was told it helps you push. Another part of me is glad because it was one less surprise (because motherhood is full of them) and I didn’t spend the last weeks of pregnancy going out of my mind with curiosity.


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  1. Unfortunately aborting female fetus is very common in some states. Poverty , dowrey and wish for male child are some reasons. Young indian men have to stood up and say no to easy money in form of dowrey. There is no self respect in selling youself guys. In all other countries men give present to women to marry them . This opposite system works in south asia only. Shameful.


  2. In India I believe there is now a debate whether the sex of the baby should be revealed officially at the 5 month window?Obviously not because they want to ruin the surprise for the parents but because the government believes it may be easier to track and prevent female feoticide cases if a patient dosen’t return to the health center after being made aware of the baby’s gender.


  3. Hi my sister
    I live in india also and i will marry with an ethiopian girl after one month approx. .so i want to know that how can she live with me in here all life and what we have to do for it please reply me …..please suggest me because you have experience about if very well


  4. I was anxious to find out the gender with both of my pregnancies. There was no way I could wait! Up until the scan for my second son, I was certain it was a girl! I felt a little twinge of disappointment, but I quickly got over it, of course. I love having two boys! Rohan is a gorgeous little boy and so fortunate to have you as his mom!


    • Aww thank you so much, Susan!
      I have thought about how I would feel if we are blessed with a second. I guess I will have to wait next time if I stay in India for number two! 😀
      I hope you and your boys are well xx


  5. @lauren

    Though arrests made a clinics carrying illegal gender tests carried out, these things persist because of demand from the public. Some people have no qualms in declaring that they aborted a female feoteus. Nowdays, Chinese ultrasound kits are available which make things easier as some reports suggest.

    The problem is the economic and social burden that comes with a girl child which make parents wary. As soon girl is born parents start putting money for dowry. Then there is the constant worry living in a women unfriendly country like India. It does have an effect. Nonetheless girls are wonderful but we have failed them.


    • Dowry’s put enormous pressure on people and families – perhaps if this tradition stopped it would not only ease the burden on these people but save the lives of women and female fetuses as well.


  6. I too signed those forms and I’m glad I was forced to wait for the surprise even though I *just knew* K was a boy, I’m glad I was correct! My curiosity got the better of me with A though. The surprising thing was when I got ask by others in India (with my first) if I knew the gender. For some reason they thought because I was foreigner that I might be exempt from that law. Not so. But happy to part of Team Boy!


  7. I had the opposite! I was so convinced Saira was a boy. When I went for my 20 week scan she refused to turn and the nurse couldn’t see enough to determine. Five scans later after a lot of star jumps, running up and down hospital stairs, confused looks from passers by as to what on earth the crazy pregnant lady was doing (trying to wake up baby and get it to turn) she still couldn’t see! I went to the pub with my friend who’s nerves were now totally frazzled from the experience. She drank two ciders, one for her and one for me and I ate the most enormous slice of hot chocolate fudge cake and ice-cream. This did the job and baby finally turned for the last attempt at the scan. I was so happy as I really wanted a girl and the funny thing is, she really adores hot chocolate fudge cake to this day and goes crazy for it jumping up and down!
    It is really tragic that girls still get aborted and abandoned based on their sex. I pray things can change soon and it breaks my heart thinking about all those little lost souls. x


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