Twenty-five campaign groups have joined forces to tackle the practice of British-Asian women being forced to have an abortion when they are carrying a female foetus because of family pressure to bear a son.
Organisations have written to every MP urging them to support having a clause in existing laws to ban terminations based on gender.
The change to the Serious Crime Bill has been proposed by Conservative MP Fiona Bruce and is set to be debated in parliament next Monday (23).
Campaigners claim women are under pressure to have a son, while in some cases families do not want a girl to avoid paying a dowry when the daughter gets married.
Rani Bilkhu is director of charity Jeena International, which has led the Stop The Genocide campaign.
She told Eastern Eye: “Jeena International have been campaigning and raising awareness on sex selection abortions in the UK for almost a decade. Now it’s time to make explicit that sex selection abortion is illegal as at the moment, the law is open to interpretation.
“Having supported many women, midwives have been concerned about the significant amount of husbands and mother-in-laws who have walked out once a baby girl is born. The atmosphere changes, it is alarming.
“Women are aborting for many diverse reasons, from ensuring equity in their family and community, domestic violence, and being culturally enslaved to believe that their status, marriage, value will be elevated.”
The Muslim Women’s Network, the Hindu Council and the Sikh Council are among those to join the campaign.
EE has previously reported that British Indians are flying to Delhi to secretly terminate female foetuses.
And research has highlighted the trend, with an Oxford University study showing that between 1990 and 2005, around 1,500 fewer girls were born to Indian mothers living in England and Wales than would have been statistically possible.
The figure represents one in ten girls “missing” from birth statistics for mothers having their third or fourth female child.
Researchers said the difference between the number of boys and girls born to Indian mothers was too “sudden and pronounced to have a likely biological or environmental cause… the most probable explanation is sex-selective abortion”.
Sajda Mughal, who runs the Jan Trust women’s group, said: “We support women who have been or are in danger of being coerced with sex-selective abortion in the UK, particularly in communities where there still exists a preference for a son.
“Our experience tells us that practical help is needed in communities where women are sometimes devalued and degraded to the extent that people try to stop a female from being born.”
Mandy Sanghera, a human rights activist and government adviser, has also backed the campaign.
She said: “I am pro-choice for abortions as they are a very personal decision.
“However I have concerns about some women being put under emotional duress to have a termination because of izzat [family honour] or financial reasons like dowry, or boys are preferred in some communities.”
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service has said gender terminations are not illegal under the 1967 Abortion Act and the law is”silent” on the subject.