Female Foeticide in India
The 2001 census of India reveals a decline in the overall child sex ratio for the age-group 0-6 years from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001.Contrary to the belief that the malaise is typical to rural ,backward areas, urban centers more literate and liberal have shown a drop from 935 in 1991 to 906 in 2001.
In Delhi, the national capital, the child sex ratio is an alarming 868.While the reasons for this vary from higher female mortality at a younger age as a result of neglect to infanticide and foeticide; the dismal numbers are a telling comment on the educated society that refuses to rid itself of its regressive male bias.
The Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Regulations and Prevention of Misuse Act came into force in 1994 to curb selective sex determination. With rapid improvements in diagnostic technology the Act was amended in 2003 in order that it became more comprehensive and was renamed the Preconception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act.
To monitor the implementation of the PC & PNDT Act, the ministry of Health and Family Welfare has set up a Central Supervisory Board as well as state-level supervisory committees. A ministry report indicates that there are 420 ongoing court/police cases for violations of the law. Of these only 65 cases relate to identification and revelation of the sex of the foetus, 43 are against people who have advertised facilities for sex selection and the rest are for non-registration of clinics/facilities.
Apart from the nature of the Act, government inaction in most cases is due to the fact that the patient, her family and the violators of the law are hand-in-glove. The Annual Report (2006) of the PC &PNDT division also identifies the non-availability of evidence or witnesses as the chief hindrance to implementing the law. The unscrupulous doctors and patients have developed their own sex determination code language to circumvent the law. For an instance if a doctor says collect the report on Monday the family is meant to infer that the unborn child is a boy. Friday connotes the girl child. Also signing a report in blue ink indicates a boy while red ink is meant for baby girls. The Annual Report mentions the fact the CMO or CS is usually not empowered enough to bring violators to book. Also abortions to limit family size add to the difficulty of nabbing guilty.
Despite the loopholes the government has exerted itself to advocate the girl child's right to live. A new website has been launched www.pndt.gov.in with the facility to file a complaint online against doctors, maternity homes and clinics. The organizations like Sonological Society of India are also supporting the government initiatives.
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