Female foeticide is a menace in our modern Indian society: Critical analysis
Jyoti Sarkar, Debaditya Das
One of the greatest dangers to our contemporary human progress is the threat of skewed sex proportion. The expanding irregularity amongst males and females is prompting numerous violations, for example, illicit trafficking of ladies, rapes, polygamy and dehumanization of society. Female foeticide is in practice in India from the time of advent of technological advancements in medical field like prenatal sex determination in the 1990s. However, earlier to this, female childs were killing after their birth in many regions of the country. In the Indian society, female childs are considered as the social and economic burden to their parents so they understand that it is better to kill them before birth. In India, the number of girls per 1000 boys is reducing with each passing decade. From 962 and 945 girls for every 1000 boys in the years 1981 and 1991 respectively, the sex ratio had plunged to an all-time low of 927 girls for 1000 boys in 2001. Female Foeticide is one of the most prevalent issues today, and statistics support that. However, how did this start? How did this evil creep into the veins of the society, and how did it dig its roots so deep, that it’s grown so much today? The preference for the male child dates back into history. And obviously therefore, female infanticide, has long been practiced in Indian societies - the reason being the process was relatively simpler, compared to female foeticide. Hence, tracing the origins of infanticide would be comparatively more difficult. Now, with the advancement in technologies, and development of easier, and cheaper techniques, female foeticide has spread throughout India, and sex determination tests are a very common practice during pregnancy - abusing the technology which is supposed to be used, only if there are chances of the infant contracting any hereditary genetic disease or disability. And today, it is no secret, and one can clearly see where this immoral solution to a wrongly-identified problem, has led us to. Activists through intervention of the Supreme Court are compelling State Governments to initiate action against ultrasound centres encouraging female foeticide under the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994. Therefore, it is for the first time since the enactment of this law about eight years ago that states have started registering ultrasound machines for a better supervision of their use. The Indian Medical Association, too, has called for action against doctors helping in such sex-selection procedure. Not only is sex determination a crime against women but achieving a balance in sex ratio is also a crucial part of population stability. Expressing its concern, an NGO, CEHAT, filed a Public Interest Litigation highlighting this issue. The challenge to the constitutionality of the Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 on ground of violation of Article 21 of the Constitution was rejected by the Supreme Court. Many important changes were made in the PCPNDT Act, 2004. It brought ultrasound and amniocentesis under its ambit. It also led to the empowerment of the Central Supervisory Board and the formation of State Level Supervisory Board. The rules, regulations, and punishments are made more stringent. In India, the policy environment is supportive of the reproductive choices of women and men. The medical termination of pregnancy act is legal and it allows for induced abortions where pregnancy carries grave injury to women’s health.