Sex determination of foetus can prevent female foeticide in India!
Sex determination of foetus can prevent female foeticide in India!Introduction:
The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PCPNDT) was intended to ban and punish prenatal sex determination tests and female foetacide in India. Gynecologists are strictly prohibited to determine or disclose sex of foetus to anyone during or after ultrasonography screenings of expecting women.
However, it come as no surprise that PCPNDT is not strictly followed in most maternity hospitals across India. Illegal sex determination screenings are done by doctors and sonographers everywhere. These illegitimate and unregistered clinics charge hefty amount from parents looking for sex determination of their foetus which is why decreasing sex ratio is a big problem in our country. PCPNDT is accused of not being able to prevent female foeticide or implementing laws for that matter.
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi recently suggested that instead of a ban on sex determination of foetus, it should be made obligatory, the gender be registered and the birth of child be tracked. Now that we know a ban is no good to stop female foeticide, should health ministry pass a new law calling for compulsory screening as suggested by Maneka Gandhi?
1. Ban worsened the situation: Not everyone was acquainted with the sex determination screenings and its accuracy. The ban in screening actually promoted the science of prenatal sex determination. More and more people learnt about it and were curious. Illegal ultrasonography centres and maternity clinics started doing the test for parents who were adamant and willing to pay good cash for it. It is a proven theory (at least in India, going by the result of ban on alcohol and porn) that bans always promote the activity in illicit manners.
2. Check on illegal abortions: Sex determination and registration at the same time would help keep a check on illegal abortions being done at unregistered maternity clinics. The procedures they follow pose threat to the life of women. Unborn female fetuses are killed in the womb, life denied and humanity trashed into the old drawers of orthodox traditions. In states of Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan, the practices of illegal abortions after sex determination of foetus is the highest in our country.
3. Welfare of girl child: The accurate count of girl child born every year, especially to poor and underprivileged parents can be of use to the government while planning welfare schemes for girl child. All the welfare policies for better nutrition and education of girl child in rural areas would find better exposure. Reaching out to poor parents and encouraging them for bringing a girl into the world would be easier for government and NGOs working in this field.
4. Prevent women from orthodox: Most cases of female foeticide happen without the consent of women. In rural districts of Haryana and Rajasthan women are forced by orthodox families to kill her child in the womb. Women in these areas are usually incapable of taking a stand for themselves. Registering the sex of their foetuses could allow enforcement of laws easier in these areas. A surprisingly high number of female foeticide without the consent of the mother also happen in developed cities.
5. Time to educate parents: We told them not to kill girl child. We told them to give her equal opportunity at education and career. All the ordering didn’t help, it seems. These people need to be educated, reformed and made to understand that a girl child is not a burden in today’s times. They have to be picked and explained in person why having a girl child doesn’t make them any less competent than having a boy would.
1. Decreasing sex ratio could have other reasons too: Villagers in remote locations still rely on age old belief of giving priority to boys only. Even if they are born, they are usually undernourished which later results in deficiencies and death. These orthodox families look down upon baby girls as unwanted burden who would cost them to pay heavy dowry. Another of their narrow mindedness tells them to marry her off early so that they don’t bring disgrace to the family. People need to be enlightened and educated to bring equality in status of girls and boys.
2. The ambiguity of tests: The ultrasonography screenings cannot always be 100% accurate. If the foetus is not in the right position, it will be difficult to determine the sex of the child. Illegal selective abortions will still be carried out in some places where registering may not be required. How will the government ever trace how many women started expecting and went for ultrasonography at these illicit clinics? If the test confirms a boy, they would undergo another test at the government centre for registering and if it’s a girl, they wouldn’t let her live another day for anyone to notice.
3. False expectations: Inaccuracy of screening can bring false expectations to parents who could be actually wanting a girl child. Many a times these screenings are unclear and doctors announce the wrong sex to expecting parents. They could be excited enough to shop baby products intended for girl or boy only, to later find that it’s all going waste. The educated class will still be happy with the baby but what about the orthodox ones? If they are told in the test that the foetus is a boy and it comes out to be a girl, they can be expected to resort to extreme measures to get rid of the girl child.
4. Corruption will take over: Corruption prevails everywhere and government healthcare centres are no exception. Pay them big and avoid registration when it’s a baby girl – not something very challenging in India.
5. Not everyone wants the surprise to be revealed: The secret surprise of the doctor announcing ‘it’s a baby girl’ or ‘it’s a boy’ just when you can see and touch your tiny one is the biggest moment in the life of a mother. The excitement of this little surprise element is what gives strength to the mother in excruciating pain. Making screening compulsory won’t be very pleasant for everyone.
Making sex determination compulsory could help prevent female foeticide in India only if corrupt practices are kept in check. The ultrasonography should be done at registered maternity clinics only and the illicit ones should not have the license to perform ultrasonography on expecting mothers at all. If tests could be made more accurate with the usage of advanced techniques that are common in US, people would not have any objection in undergoing a compulsory sex determination of foetus.
- RE: Sex determination of foetus can prevent female foeticide in India! -Mitu (02/08/16)
- Hon`ble Minister has made a statement which is in infringement of the PC-PNDT Act (1994, revised in 2003) where the disclosure of the sex of the foetus is itself an offence. Furthermore, where the Act has provisions for strict penalties against the medical practitioners who do not comply with the law, the Hon. Minister is showing unwillingness to ‘arrest’ the breakers of the law of the land, who make profits from sex determination tests.
2. Hon`ble Minister has not considered that the problem isn’t with the P.N.D.T Act but with its implementation. The people who raid the clinics and the authorities who are supposed to punish the wrong doers belong to the same patriarchal Society. They do not see anything wrong in “wanting a son”. Even the doctors found violating the Act, go unpunished and most of the violators are often let off with a meagre fine or a warning.
3. Making sex determination compulsory as is being mooted will further endanger the mother's life. Women carrying female foetuses will be starved and beaten. The “accidental stove bursts” will increase when relatives find that a woman is carrying female child. On the other hand, she will be forced to carry on a pregnancy with a male child even if it is dangerous for mother's health. In addition, what about the numerous unsafe abortions, and numerous non-medical ways of inducing abortions. Who will decide in each case weather the abortion was spontaneous or induced because of torture, lack of food , violence etc.
4. This will impinge on the basic right of a woman to privacy and abortion. Even the United Nations has accepted that Abortion is a fundamental right of every woman.
5. The Government has failed to monitor a few thousand radiologists and doctors. How does government propose to monitor lakhs of pregnancies for nine months each?
6. Has the Hon`ble Minister ever considered the possibility of a woman and family being told that the woman is carrying a female child. The same woman is registered in Govt records as carrying a male child and then the woman is made to undergo an abortion...
7. The P.N.D.T Act is a very good and strong Act, well thought and well written by various experienced and well-meaning authorities. It only suffers from lack of implementation. As per a UNICEF report of 2005, there were 7000 female foeticides/day in India. The number of Doctors prosecuted is not even 1% of the number of female foeticides. The number of convictions is even less. So how can the Act be labelled as a failure, when there is no willingness to implement it.
8. It will make it impossible for a mother willing to fight and report female foeticide as it will criminalize the woman herself. As it is , I have faced opposition from all quarters in my fight against female foeticide. A woman willing to fight to save her daughters has no support system.
9. The statement from Mrs Maneka Gandhi is against the program objectives of “Beti Bacchao Beti Paddao” program started by the Hon`ble Prime Minister of India.
This initiative of the Hon`ble Minister is only going to protect the Doctors who do sex determination only for monetary benefits. This will only benefit the Doctors who will make huge amounts of money in doing openly, what was being done behind curtains till date.