Female Foeticide

Female Foeticide in India Submitted by admin on 1 May, 2004 – 05:25 • India • IHN 2004. 2 May • International Humanist News [pic] Female Foeticide in India By Indu Grewal and J. Kishore Introduction Some of the worst gender ratios, indicating gross violation of women’s rights, are found in South and East Asian countries such as India and China. The determination of the sex of the foetus by ultrasound scanning, amniocentesis, and in vitro fertilization has aggravated this situation. No moral or ethical principle supports such a procedure for gender identification.

The situation is further worsened by a lack of awareness of women’s rights and by the indifferent attitude of governments and medical professionals. In India, the available legislation for prevention of sex determination needs strict implementation, alongside the launching of programmes aimed at altering attitudes, including those prevalent in the medical profession. Background The killing of women exists in various forms in societies the world over. However, Indian society displays some unique and particularly brutal versions, such as dowry deaths and sati. Female foeticide is an extreme manifestation of violence against women.

Female foetuses are selectively aborted after pre-natal sex determination, thus avoiding the birth of girls. As a result of selective abortion, between 35 and 40 million girls and women are missing from the Indian population. In some parts of the country, the sex ratio of girls to boys has dropped to less than 800:1,000. The United Nations has expressed serious concern about the situation. The sex ratio has altered consistently in favour of boys since the beginning of the 20th century (see Table), and the effect has been most pronounced in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi.

It was in these states that private foetal sex determination clinics were first established and the practice of selective abortion became popular from the late 1970s. Worryingly, the trend is far stronger in urban rather than rural areas, and among literate rather than illiterate women, exploding the myth that growing affluence and spread of basic education alone will result in the erosion of gender bias. Sex Ratio (females per 1000 males), India 1901–2001 Year Sex Ratio Sex Ratio in Children (0–6yr) 1901 972 – 1911 964 – 1921 955 – 1931 950 – 1941 945 – 951 946 – 1961 941 976 1971 930 964 1981 934 962 1991 929 945 2001 933 927 Source: Registrar General of India Status of Indian Women The adverse sex ratio has been linked with the low status of women in Indian communities, both Hindu and Muslim. The status of women in a society can be determined by their education, health, economic role, presence in the professions and management, and decision-making power within the family. It is deeply influenced by the beliefs and values of society. Islam permits polygamy and gives women fewer rights than men.

Among Hindus, preference for the male child is likewise deeply enshrined in belief and practice. The Ramayana and the Manusmriti (the Laws of Manu) represent the ideal woman as obedient and submissive, and always needing the care of a male: first father, then husband, then son. The birth of a son is regarded as essential in Hinduism and many prayers and lavish offerings are made in temples in the hope of having a male child. Modern medical technology is used in the service of this religion-driven devaluing of women and girls.

Religion operates alongside other cultural and economic factors in lowering the status of women. The practice of dowry has spread nationwide, to communities and castes in which it had never been the custom, fuelled by consumerism and emulation of upper caste practices. In the majority of cases, the legal system has no impact on the practice of dowry. It is estimated that a dowry death occurs in India every 93 minutes. The need for a dowry for girl children, and the ability to demand a dowry for boys exerts considerable economic pressure on families to use any means to avoid having girls, who are seen as a liability.

Sonalda Desai has reported that there are posters in Bombay advertising sex-determination tests that read, ‘It is better to pay 500 Rs now than 50,000 Rs (in dowry) later’. Women and Developments in Reproductive Technology Abortion was legalized in India in 1971 (Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act) to strengthen humanitarian values (pregnancy can be aborted if it is a result of sexual assault, contraceptive failure, if the baby would be severely handicapped, or if the mother is incapable of bearing a healthy child).

Amniocentesis was introduced in 1975 to detect foetal abnormalities but it soon began to be used for determining the sex of the baby. Ultrasound scanning, being a non-invasive technique, quickly gained popularity and is now available in some of the most remote rural areas. Both techniques are now being used for sex determination with the intention of abortion if the foetus turns out to be female. These methods do not involve manipulation of genetic material to select the sex of a baby.

Recent preconception gender selection (PGS), however, includes flow cytometry, preimplantation gender determination of the embryo, and in vitro fertilization to ensure the birth of a baby of the desired sex without undergoing abortion. In PGS, X and Y sperms are separated and the enriched sperms are used to fertilize the ovum. The method was intended to reduce the risk of diseases related to the X chromosome, which are far more likely to occur in boys than in girls (who have two X chromosomes). Ironically, it is being used in India to avoid giving birth to girl children.

Most of those in the medical profession, being part of the same gender biased society, are steeped in the same attitudes concerning women. It is scarcely surprising that they are happy to fulfil the demands of prospective parents. Medical malpractice in this area is flourishing, and bans on gender selection, for example in Maharashtra, have had little effect. Consequences of Female Foeticide Given the lower value placed on women in Indian society, prenatal sex determination with the intention of preventing female births must be viewed as a manifestation of violence against women, a violation of their human rights.

The pregnant woman, though often equally anxious to have a boy, is frequently pressurized to undergo such procedures. Many women suffer from psychological trauma as a result of forcibly undergoing repeated abortions. More generally, demographers warn that in the next twenty years there will be a shortage of brides in the marriage market mainly because of the adverse juvenile sex ratio, combined with an overall decline in fertility. While fertility is declining more rapidly in urban and educated families, nevertheless the preference for male children remains strong.

For these families, modern medical technologies are within easy reach. Thus selective abortion and sex selection are becoming more common. In rural areas, as the number of marriageable women declines, men would tend to marry younger women, leading to a rise in fertility rates and thus a high rate of population growth. The abduction of girls is an associated phenomenon. The Hindustan Times recently reported that young girls from Assam and West Bengal are kidnapped and sold into marriage in neighbouring Haryana.

The impact on society should not be underestimated. According to Chinese estimates, by 2020 there are likely to be 40 million unmarried young men, called guang guan or ‘bare branches’, in China, because of the adverse sex ratio. A society with a preponderance of unmarried young men is prone to particular dangers. More women are likely to be exploited as sex workers. Increases in molestations and rape are an obvious result. The sharp rise in sex crimes in Delhi have been attributed to the unequal sex ratio.

Prevention of Sex Determination In 1994, the Government of India passed the Pre- conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act with the aim of preventing female foeticide. The implementation of this Act was slow. It was later amended and replaced in 2002 by the Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act without ever having been properly implemented. The Act has a central and state level Supervisory Board, an Appropriate Authority, and supporting Advisory Committee.

The function of the Supervisory Board is to oversee, monitor, and make amendments to the provisions of the Act. Appropriate Authority provides registration, and conducts the administrative work involved in inspection, investigation, and the penalizing of defaulters. The Advisory Committee provides expert and technical support to the Appropriate Authority. Contravening the provisions of the Act can lead to a fine of Rs 10,000 and up to three years imprisonment for a first offence, with greater fines and longer terms of imprisonment for repeat offenders.

The Appropriate Authority informs the central or state medical council to take action against medical professionals, leading to suspension or the striking off of practitioners found guilty of contravening the provisions of the Act. Before conducting any prenatal diagnostic procedure, the medical practitioner must obtain a written consent from the pregnant woman in a local language that she understands. Prenatal tests may be performed in various specified circumstances, including risk of chromosomal abnormalities in the case of women over 35, and genetic diseases evident in the family history of the couple.

Implementation of the 1994 Act We conducted a study to assess the implementation of the 1994 Act in South Delhi and make recommendations for its improvement. This involved examining the organizational structure, observing 26 clinics, and distributing a questionnaire to patients. The results showed up serious failures in management and implementation, lack of commitment and motivation, widespread corruption, and little knowledge in clinics of the provisions of the Act.

The presence of individuals outside the medical profession, in particular those involved with human rights, would have helped to prevent fraternity bias – an unwillingness to bring medical colleagues to account. The survey of patient attitudes showed that only 40% of male patients and 30% of female patients were aware of the prohibition of sex determination. While 90% purported to agree with the principle of the Act, they nevertheless maintained that a male child was important for the strengthening of the family. Preventing Female Foeticide

The removal of this practice in Indian society is a serious challenge. It must involve I A move away from religious teachings and the advocacy of a scientific, rational, and humanist approach. I The empowerment of women and a strengthening of women’s rights through campaigning against practices such as dowry, and ensuring strict implementation of existing legislation. I Ensuring the development of and access to good health care services. I Inculcating a strong ethical code of conduct among medical professionals, beginning with their training as undergraduates.

I Simple methods of complaint registration, accessible to the poorest and most vulnerable women. I Wide publicization in the media of the scale and seriousness of the practice. NGOs should take a key role in educating the public on this matter. I Regular assessment of indicators of status of women in society, such as sex ratio, and female mortality, literacy, and economic participation. It is only by a combination of monitoring, education campaigns, and effective legal implementation that the deep-seated attitudes and practices against women and girls can be eroded. Essay on Female Foeticide

In India, welfare measures like empowerment of women, reservation in Parliament, free education to girl child and a lot of other woman progressive initiative, do not make sense when we look at cases of female foeticide. There are only 933 females for every 1000 males against global figure of 1060 females per 1000 males. Sex ratio is a composite indicator of woman’s status in a society. If we analyse state wise sex ratio, it is most disturbing to note that the States like Punjab and Haryana which are among the prosperous states of India, female-male ratio is continuously declining.

Our Service Can Write a Custom Essay on Female Foeticide for You! Female Foeticide, is violation of right a basic human right and guarantee under the constitution In the case of female foeticide, the female children in the wombs of expecting mothers, they are not only denied the right to live but are robbed to their right to be born. The selection of male child over female is enough proof for lack of right to birth to girl child. Social, cultural, financial and psychological reasons are responsible for the prevalence of evil female foeticide in our society.

Unfortunately, it became popular for sex determination, leading to sex selective abortions for those who do not want to be burdened with female child. The more easy way was shown by Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 by legalising abortions in certain specific conditions and ultimately became a tool for female sex-selective abortions and led to drastic fall in the female sex ratio to present level. Male child preference is a pivotal factor in female foeticide. The normative preference for the male child emanates from gender typed roles, male inheritance and decadency.

In our society people think that male child brings social status for them. All religions have legitimized gender inequalities and accorded an inferior status to women. Manu, the Hindu Law Giver, denied autonomy to women, and advised that women should be guarded day and night. Science has made this a less messy procedure through female foeticide. Dowry system is also crucial in preventing the birth of a girl child. [for sex determination test and abortion], than to give birth to female child and spend five lacs for her marriage. Girl child is treated as a bird of passage, a guest in her own parent’s house.

Small family norm is also responsible for female foeticide. Middle class families prefer norm of two-child family. Decrease in family size ensured the survival of male child at the cost of female child. This norm has displaced the girl child. The practice of sex determination followed by abortion in case of female child is not only illegal but constitutes a criminal offence. It was proposed to prohibit pre-natal diagnostic techniques for determination of sex of foetus for the purpose of female foeticide. Such abuse of scientific technique was found discriminatory against female sex and also affecting the dignity and status of women.

Law alone cannot stop the social evil of female foeticide. The present study reveals that girl child is proving an enormously endangered species. The gravity of problem demands immediate measures to combat female foeticide. The day Homo Erectus became Homo Sapiens, the male must have realized he was physically stronger than the female, may be they fought tooth and nail at first, till the woman realized that it was no use trying to win over the man physically and eventually gave up. The man must have gloated that day in triumph at subjugating the female; he is still gloating! He must have begun o assert himself very early in history; he is sill asserting. The woman ‘gave in’ centuries ago and she is still ‘giving in’. Women started to suffer from the day they developed the gift of feelings and emotions. She is still suffering. Man has come a long way, he has become ‘civilized’, but his instinct to dominate over the weaker sex has remained, in fact it has turned into an obsession, a need, with time. With ‘civilization’ the tools of oppression have become more ‘civilized’, more sophisticated, cultivated, advanced and techno savvy. In fact the whole process of advancement can be traced in the process of suppression of women. [pic] | |Pinky, the little mother. Photo Zoya Zaidi | It must have started with the need to possess -land, property, women- and to gain control over them. Whoever was powerful got the maximum property, land, and then women may be, to serve him, to ‘comfort’ him, and to provide him ‘satisfaction’. With property must have come the need to control and manage people, the need to rule, and with the need to rule the desire to have power.

With power comes the show of power, and what better way could there be to show power than the display of property. Property became a tool to ‘show his strength’. With strength came the need to assert strength, to bully the weak, to dispossess them and to become more powerful. With power and property greed took root. Not satisfied with what he already had, man wanted more. With the craving to have more, first petty squabbles with neighbors, then bigger conflicts with far off territories, then alliances with neighboring territories must have started.

With control of property, the instinct to bully grew leading to unprovoked assaults; attacks on the weak thus starting wars, first small and then on a larger scale. The need to maintain an army must have developed and the feeling of being stronger of the two sexes – the importance of being a man. The beast in man resurfaced when he subjugated territory, he looted and possessed (read raped) women; not satisfied with just that, he brought them over along with him and forcefully kept them and used them, to ‘satisfy’ his needs, his sexual esires. Thus women were enslaved, becoming the spoil of war, a won-over property, as slaves, as a commodity, as a ‘thing’ to be possessed and used at will. Slowly a woman was reduced to the status of a slave, a thing, a ‘possession’, rather than a human being. Like all the rules of governance, rules regarding women and their conduct (read the determination of how much would be their limits, of how much they could be ‘allowed’ to do) were laid down. A whole campaign aimed at subjugation of women started.

Over the years her physical weakness was exploited to make her psychologically weak as well. Gradually a girl was indoctrinated to feel inferior, not only physically but psychologically, intellectually, and mentally. She was deprived of property rights- either at the very onset or by law slowly dispossessing her completely. Having lost all rights she lost power and with that the right to make decisions. Considered a commodity she could now be exchanged (e. g. y marriage), kept or rejected at will, and got rid of when not required, either by abandoning or later or even murder. Each time a man repressed a woman, he justified his action, to appease his conscience and mollify others in the society. On the other hand, in order to continue possessing his property, even after death, the need of an heir, a son, became necessary. In marriage the groom demanded that the bride’s father also provide for his daughter’s maintenance, since she was now a financial ‘burden’ on him. And the system of dowry started.

So, a girl became a potential financial drain on man and somewhere down the line it become a matter of prestige too, with more money and material goods asked in dowry. The girl was no longer desired. Prabhuji mein tori binti karoon Paiyan Paroon bar bar Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Na Dije Narak Dije Chahe Dar… Oh, God, I beg of you, I touch your feet time and again, Next birth don’t give me a daughter, Give me Hell instead… –An old Folk Song From Uttar Pradesh First it was a girl or two killed on the sly, then man become bolder and bolder till female infanticide must have become the accepted norm.

With the laws coming up against female infanticide, more sophisticated techniques are now sought after. With the availability of ultrasound technology for determining sex of the foetus, a simple and noninvasive technique, the slogan of many ultrasound sex-determination clinics is: “Spend five hundred rupees now save five lacks later” (meaning get a female foetus aborted, to later save dowry money). It is a matter of grave concern that today in India we are discussing a thing like female foeticide.

This term in itself envelopes myriads of meanings, it smacks of the fact that a) a girl is killed before she is born; b) that sex of a foetus is determined to be that of a female; c) it acknowledges that there is technology privy to this heinous crime; d) there are doctors involved in first determining the sex of the baby, then carrying out abortion; and e) there is crime involved in violating not one but many laws: the Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) 1994 Act, the Section 307 IPC (of attempt to murder) and along with crime of abetment of murder etc.

It speaks of a whole system gone corrupt, a whole society involved in conspiracy against women, against destruction of half the population of society, at the hands of monstrous practices becoming more and more rampant in a society fast losing its secular, social, and humanistic fabric. In today’s materialistic world a woman is fast being relegated to the rank of a commodity and marriage has become more of a business alliance than a sacred bond between two people. |[pic] | |The Little Dhoban.

Photo Zoya Zaidi | Amniocentesis first started in India in 1974 as a part of a sample survey conducted at the All India Institute of Medial Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, to detect foetal abnormalities. These tests were later stopped by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), but their value had leaked out by then and 1979 saw the first sex determination clinic opening in Amritsar, Punjab. Even though women organizations across the country took up cudgels to put a stop to this new menace, but were helpless because of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.

This is because the amniocentesis test was claimed to be used for detection of foetal abnormalities, which were permitted by the MTP Act. According to the MTP Act, if any abnormality is detected between 12 to 18 weeks of gestational period in the foetus, an abortion can be legally carried out up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. In the absence of any law, all that the government could do was to issue circulars prior to 1985, banning the misuse of medical technology for sex determination in all government institutions.

This, however, led to the mushrooming of private clinics all over the country. In 1986, the Forum Against Sex Determination and Sex Pre-selection (FASDSP), a social action group in Mumbai, initiated a campaign. Succumbing to public pressure, the Maharashtra government enacted the Maharashtra Regulation of Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act1988, the first anti sex determination drive in the country. This was followed by a similar Act being introduced in Punjab in May 1994.

Both these were however repealed by the enactment of a central legislation, the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 28 September1994, which banned sex determination tests all over the country. This Act carries a three-year imprisonment and Rs10, 000 fine for offenders. The implementation of this act initially faced problems as monitoring agencies had to be identified at all levels. It was therefore only in 1997 when the responsibility was delegated, that actual implementation of the act began [1].

There is still social complacency among all sections of society, which needs to be addressed. Since the advent of ultrasound and detection technique for sex-determination 10 million female foetuses have been aborted in India, according to a study conducted recently in India, the first systematic study on female foeticide by an Indo-Canadian team. A shocking picture emerges-every year, about 50,000 unborn girls-one in every 25-are aborted [2] and as a result the number of girls has actually gone down drastically in India.

In 1997 UNPFA report “India Towards Population and Development Goals”, estimates that 48 million women were ‘missing’ from India’s population. The report states “If the sex ratio of 1036 females per 1000 males observed in some states of Kerala in 1991 had prevailed in the whole country, the number of would be 455 million instead of the 407 million (in the 1991 census). Thus, there is a case of between 32 to 48 million missing females in the Indian society as of 1991 that needs to be explained. ” The 1991 census is only indicative of this disturbing trend when elsewhere in the world women outnumber men by 3 to 5 percent. There are 5 to 97 males to 100 females in Europe, the ratio is even less, 88 males to 100 females, in Russia, mainly due to causalities of World War 2 [1]. According to the UNICEF, 40 to 50 million girls have gone missing from Indian population since 1901 as a result of systematic gender discrimination in India [3]. As per consensus 2001, the child ratio in Punjab is 793 girls to 1000 boys. This is the lowest child ratio in the country (the average being 927 girls to 1000 boys) and as compared to 1991 consensus it shows a decline of 82 points [4]. India tops the list as far as illegal abortion and female foeticide are concerned.

Of the 15 million illegal abortions carried out in the world in 1997, India accounted for 4 million, 90% of which were intended to eliminate the girl child [1]. |[pic] | |Little girl gathering firewood. Photo Zoya Zaidi | On March 8, 2006 the Governor of New Delhi launched a campaign against selective abortions. In Delhi alone the situation is “becoming alarming”: only 814 girls are born for every 1000 boys in the Capital.

While the 2001 consensus showed Delhi’s sex ratio to be 865 for age group 0-6 years, against the national average of 927 [5]. This has consistently increased over the years. ‘Saheli’, a Delhi based NGO, has reported that between 1978-82, nearly 78, 000 female fetuses were aborted after sex determination tests in the country. Between 1986-87 alone, 30, 000-50, 000 female fetuses had been aborted. Between 1982-92, the number of sex determination clinics multiplied manifold and nearly 13,000 sex determination tests were estimated to have been done in seven Delhi clinics themselves.

The irony of the whole situation is that in the 10 years since India enacted the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technologies (PNDT) Act, not a single person was convicted till very recently and in the beginning of April 2006 only two people were convicted, fined and pronounced five years of rigorous imprisonment. Only 23 cases have been registered under this act so far, according to India’s Health Minister Ambumoni Ramadoss’ s statement in the parliament last year [6]. |[pic] | |Newborn Girls in Tripura Hospital. |

As the world celebrates 11th July as the World Population Day, we will helplessly observe girls ‘missing’ from the worlds second most populated country, India. Ironically the theme of the running 2005-2006 year World Population Day was declared by United Nations to be ‘Equality Empowers’! The UNFPA Executive director, Thoraya Obaid, had remarked then, “Equality benefits equal opportunities to education, societies become more prosperous, where women have equal excess to income, assets and services, families become healthier. When both men and women are able to participate equally and exercise their full human rights, the world benefits” [7].

How far we are from this goal! In conclusion I would like to share two of my poems on this grave problem. ‘Girl Unborn’, that highlights the appalling practice of female infanticide still being practiced in India, and ‘Missing Girls’ about the misuse of ultrasound technology in India. News Desk: Even as India has witnessed unprecedented economic growth in the last decade the condition of millions of Indian women and girl children continue to be deplorable, with the government unable to properly implement the laws against female foeticide. [pic]According to census 2011 which pegged population of India at 1. 1 billion, up 17. 4% from 2001, the over sex ratio has improved from 932. 91 females per 1000 male in 2001 to 940. 27 in 2011, the highest recorded sex ratio since the 1971 census. This can be explained by the greater natural longevity of women and improvements in health care over the years. But the deeply disturbing part of the statistics is that 914. 23 girls were born for every 1,000 boys in the age group 0-6, compared with 927. 31 for every 1,000 boys in the 2001 census. This is the worst child sex ratio in the history of the country since independence.

This steep decrease in the child sex ratio has rung alarm bell across the country. This trend and scale of decline in rising India is shocking. It can only be explained by the deadly application of the ‘son preference’ on a growing scale — through the instrumentality of sex-selective abortion, or female foeticide. Female infanticide is also to blame for this decline. In parts of India, sons are traditionally viewed as the main breadwinners who will take care of the family, continue the family name, and perform the last rites of the parents – an important ritual in many faiths.

But daughters are often seen as a burden – not just because of the worry of having to pay a substantial dowry to get them married off, but also due to the need to protect their virginity, which often brings disrepute to the family if lost before marriage. Attempts to tackle female foeticide through bans on sex-determination tests imposed by the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act have been largely ineffective, with the number of cases registered nationwide reaching just 123 in 2009 according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

Declining sex ratio is a cause for concern. Sex of a child is a natural selection… uncontrolled by human technology only if there is a natural conceivement. Added to this, is the typical mindset of the Indian mentality that only a son would take care of his parents when they(parents) get old. (isn’t it true to a little extent? ). So easy access to sex determination techniques have increased the security of the parents in their old times. So how to change this mind-set?…. through education? through emancipation of women?… equality?….

All this would work but would take a longer time than a legislation which would make sex determination a crime!! So the easiest way to stop this is by targetting those persons who are eligible to determine the sex of a child and they are none other than the doctors!! It is the most efficient and the quickest way!! But how to change the mind-set that a girl child is a burden, to the family?… I have no convincing answers for this. Imagine a situation where a couple is blessed with three daughters and they desperately need a son… n that case, would sex determination and an eventual MTP(abortion) be a crime(ethically)? a typical argument would go like this that- they have already contributed their share to the sex- ratio. So what is wrong for them to aspire for a boy child?… I for one would say that there would always be discrepancies in the sex ratio… It would never be 50-50. A day would come when the female population would out grow the male population or a day, where there would be no woman of marriageable age!!

To enlighten yourselves more on this topic please watch a movie called “Mathrubhoomi”, where five brothers marry a woman( because she is the only one available) and the father(widower) of the brothers would ask his share because he is the head of the family. Female Foeticide is still a problem in 21st century India. It still continues to be unabated in parts of India. Modern technology combined with a cultural preference for sons rather than daughters has led to the mushrooming of neo-natal clinics across India where parents can check the sex of their unborn child.

In some parts of the country parents are choosing to abort if the child is female. The declining gender ratio in the states of Punjab, Haryana and the capital Delhi have led to crackdowns by the government on such clinics. But from the years since India enacted the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technologies (PNDT) Act not a single person has been convicted. The ineffective implementation of the legislation is evident in India’s skewed gender ratio. According to the decennial census, last carried out in 2001, the ratio for 0-6 year-olds fell from 945 females per 1,000 males in 1991 to 927 in 2001, one of the lowest in the world.

What are the steps to be taken by the government to remove this prejudice against the girl child? Sex-selective abortion is the practice of terminating a pregnancy based upon the predicted sex of the baby. The selective abortion of female fetuses is most common in areas where cultural norms value male children over female children,[1] especially in parts of People’s Republic of China, India, Pakistan, Korea, Taiwan, and the Caucasus. [1][2] Sex-selective infanticide is killing a child based on the child’s sex, usually shortly after birth (sex selective neonaticide).

In 1994 over 180 states signed the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, agreeing to “eliminate all forms of discrimination against the girl child”. [3] In 2011 the resolution of PACE’s Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men condemned the practice of prenatal sex selection. [4] A 2005 study estimated that over 90 million females were “missing” from the expected population in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan, South Korea and Taiwan alone, and suggested that sex-selective abortion plays a role in this deficit. 2][5] India’s 2011 census shows a serious decline in the number of girls under the age of seven – activists believe eight million female fetuses may have been aborted between 2001 and 2011. [6] Some research suggests that culture plays a larger role than economic conditions in gender preference and sex-selective abortion, because such deviations in sex ratios do not exist in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. [2] Other demographers, however, argue that perceived gender imbalances may arise from the underreporting of female births, rather than sex-selective abortion or infanticide. 7][8] Sex-selective abortion was rare before the late 20th century, because of the difficulty of determining the sex of the fetus before birth, but ultrasound has made such selection easier. Prior to this, parents would alter family sex compositions through infanticide. |Contents | | [hide]  | |1 Practical aspects | |2 Reasons for sex-selective abortion | |2. 1 Cultural preference | |2. Genetic | |3 Geography | |4 Societal effects | |5 In popular culture | |6 See also | |7 References | |8 External links | [edit] Practical aspects Prenatal sex discernment can be performed by the means of one of the two standard genetic tests, CVS and amniocentesis.

These may, in principle, be performed as early as the 8th and the 9th week of pregnancy. The difficulty of these tests and the risk of damage to the fetus, potentially resulting in miscarriage or congenital abnormalities (especially when done early during the pregnancy), make them quite rare during the first trimester. In the United States, CVS and amniocentesis are most commonly performed after the 11th and the 15th week of pregnancy, respectively, and even then procedures are normally only recommended for mothers whose age or family background places them at the elevated risk for genetic disorders (such as Down’s syndrome).

Outside the developed world, neither CVS nor amniocentesis account for the bulk of supposed sex-selective abortions, due to their difficulty and high cost. The most common method, instead, is ultrasound. Ultrasound is a simple, non-invasive method that involves scanning the abdomen of the pregnant woman with sound waves that create a visual representation of tissues inside her body (including the fetus), and allows the technician who performs it to attempt to locate fetus’s genitals – and, therefore, to make a judgment about his or her gender.

Unfortunately, ultrasound is nowhere near as accurate as genetic testing: it does not reach near-100% accuracy till as late as the 20th week of pregnancy (however, some novel methods of interpreting ultrasound images exist that allow fairly accurate reading by the 14th week. [9]) There are also tests which looks for DNA from the fetus in the mother’s blood. A meta-analysis published in 2011 found that such tests are reliable more than 98% of the time, as long as they are taken after the seventh week of pregnancy. [10][11] [edit] Reasons for sex-selective abortion edit] Cultural preference The selective abortion of female fetuses is most common in areas where cultural norms value male children over female children. [1] A son is often preferred as an “asset” since he can earn and support the family; a daughter is a “liability” since she will be married off to another family, and so will not contribute financially to her parents. The patriarchal structure of a society is the single most important factor skewing the sex ratio in favor of males, accentuated in some cultures by the burden of raising a dowry for a daughter’s marriage.

Openness to the very concept of sex selection is a significant factor: among societies which practice selective female abortion nowadays, many were systematically practicing female infanticide (either directly or by withholding postnatal care from children of undesirable sex) long before abortion became a viable option. [12] In modern East Asia, a large part of the pattern of preferences leading to this practice can be condensed simply as a desire to have a male heir.

Monica Das Gupta (2005) observes that, in late 1980s to early 1990s China, there was no evidence of selective abortion of female fetuses among firstborn children, or in families with one or more existing sons (in fact, families with multiple sons were, if anything, more likely to abort a boy than a girl). But, at the same time, families with existing daughters appeared very likely to abort any further female fetuses, resulting in heavily skewed sex ratios. [12] [edit] Genetic

Gender-linked genetic abnormalities, such as several forms of colorblindness, are linked to recessive genes on the X chromosome. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis can identify some life-threatening genetic abnormalities in embryo. The easiest way to select against embryos which may have a gender-linked genetic abnormality is to choose only female embryos. Embryos which are not implanted are usually discarded. [edit] Geography Sex-selective abortion is thought to be most common in South and East Asia, including parts of People’s Republic of China, Korea, Taiwan, India, and Pakistan. 1][2][13] It is possible that sex-selective abortions have caused an increase in the imbalances between sex ratios of various Asian countries. Studies have estimated that, by 1995, prenatal sex selection has increased the ratio of males to females from the natural average of 105-106 males per 100 females to 113 males per 100 females in both South Korea and China, 110 males per 100 females in Taiwan and 107 males per 100 females among Chinese populations living in Singapore and parts of Malaysia. 14] However, a similar trend does not exist in North Korea, possibly due to limited access to prenatal sex-testing technologies. [15] The worst ratio on record is thought to be in the city of Lianyungang, China, at 163 boys per 100 girls under the age of 5. [16] Sex-selective abortion has been seen as worsening the sex ratio in India, affecting gender issues related to sex compositions of Indian households. [17] According to the decennial Indian census, the sex ratio in the 0-6 age group in India went from 104. 0 males per 100 females in 1981, to 105. in 1991, to 107. 8 in 2001, to 109. 4 in 2011. The ratio is significantly higher in certain states such as Punjab and Haryana (126. 1 and 122. 0, as of 2001). [18] The use of ultrasound and abortion for sex selection has been banned since 1994 in India and 1995 in China,[19] however, there is evidence that such bans are rarely enforced,[20] and numerous dedicated sex selection clinics operate in many regions of those countries. [21] The practice is most common among educated and wealthy residents, who are most likely to afford the procedure. 22] An article published in The Lancet[23] analyzed Indian census data and concluded that selective abortion of female fetuses has increased in India over the past few decades due to increased prenatal sex determination and has contributed to a widening imbalance in the child sex ratio, though the basis of the finding has been questioned. [24] Abnormal sex ratios at birth, possibly explained by growing incidence of sex-selective abortion, have also been noted in some other countries outside South and East Asia.

According to the 2011 CIA World Factbook, countries with more than 110 males per 100 females at birth also include Albania and former Soviet republics of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Sex-selection practices also occur among some South Asian immigrants in the United States: A study of the 2000 United States Census observed definite male bias in families of Chinese, Korean and Indian immigrants, which was getting increasingly stronger in families where first one or two children were female. In those families where the first two children were girls, the sex ratio of the third child was observed to be 1. 1:1 in favor of boys. [25] [edit] Societal effects Gender bias can broadly impact a society, and it is estimated that by 2020 there could be more than 35 million young “surplus males” in China and 25 million in India. [26] Census information shows the problem is worsening. In India overall, by 2011, there were little more than 9 girls younger than 6 years old for every 10 boys. In India, the 2011 census showed that the ratio of girls to boys under the age of 6 years old has dropped even during the past decade, from 927 girls for every 1000 boys in 2001 to 918 girls for every 1000 boys in 2011.

Maharashtra state’s ratio is 883 girls, and Satara is even lower at 881. In India, hospitals are banned from giving out the gender of an unborn fetus to prevent sex-selection abortions, although evidence indicates that the information is often revealed. [27] Evidence exists for a link between sex ratios and violence. In a society with an artificial shortage of women, a combination of surplus of males and increased upward mobility of females results in accumulation of unmarried, lower-class males, who tend to be violence-prone. In the recent decades both in China and in India, regions with highest sex-selection rates experienced crime waves. 28] In China, due to its long history of son preference, there is even a term for such males, guang gun-er (“bare branches”). It has been argued that most bandits in historical China were bare branches, and that their prevalence was a major factor behind the massive Nien Rebellion in the mid-19’th century. [29] Shortage of females has the effect of driving human trafficking and mail-order bride phenomena. There are reports of women from Vietnam, Myanmar, and North Korea systematically trafficked to mainland China and Taiwan and sold into forced marriages. 28] In South Korea and Taiwan, high male sex ratios and declining birth rates several decades ago have led to over 10% of marriages in those countries being between local men and foreign women, often from countries such as mainland China, Vietnam and the Philippines. [30] During the 1994 United Nations International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt, policy objectives intended to eliminate sex-selective abortion and infanticide, along with discrimination against female children, were stated in Article 4. 5 of the Programme of Action: “… to eliminate all forms of discrimination against the girl child and the root causes of son preference, which results in harmful and unethical practices regarding female infanticide and prenatal sex selection”. [14] It has been argued that by having a one-child policy, China has increased the rate of abortion of female fetuses, thereby accelerating a demographic decline. [31] As most Chinese families are given incentives to have only one child, and would often prefer at least one son.

Researchers have expressed concern that prenatal sex selection may reduce the number of families in the next generation. [32] Since 2005, test kits such as the Baby Gender Mentor have become available for purchase over the Internet. [33] These tests have been criticized for making it easier to perform a sex-selective abortion earlier in a pregnancy. [34] Concerns have also been raised about their accuracy. [35][36] [edit] Archive for the ‘FEMALE FOETICIDE’ Category Wanted: A fairer law leave a comment » BY MANOJ MITTA IN TIMES OF INDIA CREST EDITION

How could a woman of easy virtue claim to have been raped? The policemen accused of raping a tribal woman were let off on that reasoning. It took such a miscarriage of justice by the Supreme Court in the 1978 Mathura rape case to trigger a nationwide campaign against anti-woman laws. Many changes have since been made in the statute book, including the provisions relating to rape. Manoj Mitta looks at some of the more important gender law reforms that are overdue…  RESERVATION FOR WOMEN IN ASSEMBLIES AND PARLIAMENT

Despite misgivings of tokenism, the 1993 measure of reserving one third of the seats for women in the third tier of the Indian democracy – Panchayati Raj and Nagar Palika – has proved successful in empowering the targeted group. But all attempts to extend the same principle to state legislative assemblies and Parliament have come to naught because of resistance, overt or covert, from various political parties. However, the latest attempt made in 2008 seems promising, not the least because the Bill was introduced for the first time in the Rajya Sabha and, therefore, did not lapse when there were elections to the Lok Sabha the following year.

One sticky issue that has remained is that the proposed rotation of reserved constituencies in every election may reduce the incentive for an MP to work for his constituency as he may be ineligible to seek re-election from there. COMPULSORY REGISTRATION OF MARRIAGES In a bid to prevent child marriages, polygamy and desertions, the Supreme Court declared in 2006 that it was compulsory for all marriages to be registered. But when it reviewed the implementation of its verdict the following year, the apex court found that only some of the states had framed the necessary rules for compulsory registration of marriages.

It was also noticed that those fresh rules were made only in respect of Hindus. None of the states dared touch the Muslim law, partly because it apparently permits polygamy and partly because the Supreme Court judgment was liable to be misconstrued by minorities as an attempt to force a uniform civil code through the backdoor. The Hindu law was perceived to be more amenable to this reform as it already provides registration of marriage as an option. ACCEPT IRRETRIEVABLE BREAKDOWN OF MARRIAGE

While divorce by mutual consent or no-fault divorce was introduced way back in 1976, no government has so far mustered the will to enact the next logical reform. Namely, to empower the courts to grant divorce even when one of the two parties is opposed to it and none of the prescribed grounds for divorce could be established. The Supreme Court has repeatedly called for the introduction of “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” so that the judiciary in India, as its counterparts in advanced countries, is empowered to grant divorce on coming to the conclusion that the marriage was beyond epair. RESTRICT THE FREEDOM TO BEQUEATH ONE’S PROPERTY The unfettered freedom among Hindus to bequeath their self-acquired properties to any person(s) of their choice has often worked against the interests of their female legal heirs, especially daughters. Experts have suggested that a Hindu should have the discretion to bequeath by a will only up to two-thirds of his properties. The remaining one-third of his estate should be governed by the succession law, which has been reformed in recent years to include daughters among legal heirs. CHECKING ABUSE OF DOWRY LAW

The abuse of Section 498A IPC is as patent as the need to confer such protection on the wife from the cruelty of the husband or his relatives for dowry or otherwise. There is clearly a need to amend this law, if nothing else because women too (mothers-in-law or sisters-in-law )are often casualties of its abuse. In a bid to save this well intentioned provision from the odium of being a cover for blackmail, the courts have repeatedly directed that the police should not resort to arrests till they complete their investigation and file a charge sheet. ALLOWING WOMEN TO COMPLAIN AGAINST ADULTEROUS HUSBAND

In one of its most anti-feminist provisions, the Indian Penal Code 1860 defines adultery as an offence that is actionable only between the adulterer and the aggrieved husband. But if the husband commits adultery, the wife cannot seek action against him and his sexual partner. The husband can get into trouble only if his sexual partner happens to be married and, then too, only from her husband. Surprisingly, the Supreme Court upheld this iniquitous provision in 1985 on the ground that it was dealing with “a wrong against the sanctity of the matrimonial home”.

But the Law Commission and the Malimath Committee on criminal justice reforms proposed that the adultery provision be made gender-neutral. WIDENING THE SCOPE OF RAPE For all the possible ways in which this extremely violent offence is committed, the definition of rape, provided in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code 1860, hangs by a narrow thread. While “sexual intercourse” is a necessary condition, “penetration” is stipulated as a sufficient condition. This means that, however much he might have sexually assaulted the victim, the offence of rape is not made out unless the crime involved “penile-vaginal penetration”.

The Law Commission, therefore, suggested a fresh definition, which makes it clear that penetration could be of vagina, anus or urethra, with any part of the body of another person or object manipulated by another person. It also seeks to include oral sex and manipulation of any part of the body with sexual intent. CRIMINALISING MARITAL RAPE One leftover of the old notion that the wife is the husband’s property is the absence of any recognition of the fact that she could be raped even within the institution of marriage. Mercifully, the one circumstance in which marital rape is acknowledged by law is when the wife is less than 15 years old.

Even so, she will have to lodge the complaint within a year and then the husband, upon conviction, would get a maximum sentence of two years. This is a far cry from the minimum stipulated sentence of seven years for rape. Though child wives do need greater protection, there is no justification for the presumption that, unlike their counterparts in western countries, Indian wives above the age of 15 can never be raped by their husbands. The closest the law has come to recognising this crime is in the context of the 2005 Domestic Violence Act, which created a civil remedy for such victims even as it refrained from criminalising marital rape.

ENACT A LAW ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT The Victorian vintage provisions dealing with “outraging the modesty” of a woman (Section 354 IPC) and “insulting the modesty” of a woman (Section 509) are clearly out of date. The notion of regarding a woman in terms of her “modesty” does not fit in with a world where she competes with men on equal terms. The Supreme Court sought to redress this anomaly in its landmark Vishakha verdict in 1997, when it laid down guidelines for dealing with sexual harassment at work place.

This temporary measure, meant to be replaced by legislation, has proved ineffective as it depends on the responsibility of employers to create a remedial mechanism. So, one option before Parliament is to enact a special law on the lines of the court guidelines. Another option is to amend the Indian Penal Code as suggested by the Law Commission in 2000. The panel recommended replacing the ‘outraging the modesty’ clause with one dealing with “unlawful sexual contact”, which would cover touching the body of any person other than one’s spouse “with sexual intent and without the consent” of such person.

HIGHER PENALTY FOR MOLESTATION OF CHILDREN The Ruchika Girhotra case of last year has served to highlight a lacuna in the Indian law which, contrary to a progressive global trend, does not contain any special provision for child victims of sexual molestation. While there are special provisions in Section 376 IPC for child victims of rape, where the minimum punishment is 10 years jail as against the norm of seven years, Section 354 IPC, covering all forms of non-consensual contact other than rape, makes no such distinction between adult and child victims.

Hence, the “unlawful sexual contact” provision suggested by the Law Commission is designed to enhance the penalty for child abusers to seven years from the present level of two years for any molester. PENALISE CLIENTS OF PROSTITUTES The strict restrictions imposed by the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act on where and how prostitution could be practiced resulted in action being taken most of the time against the victims themselves. An amendment Bill introduced by the Manmohan Singh government in the earlier Lok Sabha in 2006 seemed to be a step in the right direction.

But after it lapsed in 2009, with the dissolution of that Lok Sabha, UPA II has not so far revived the proposal of reforming the trafficking law. The reforms included deletion of the provisions that penalised prostitutes for soliciting clients. Instead, the 2006 Bill for the first time sought to punish any person visiting a brothel for the purpose of sexual exploitation of trafficked victims. The provision to penalise clients of prostitutes has, however, raised apprehensions that it could drive the flesh trade underground and thereby block legal channels of support to victims of trafficking.

Indira Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Kalpana Chawla all these special names have one thing in common, “they were all women”. Killing the girl child by making pre-birth investigation is the social sin destroying the roots of the Indian society. In today’s time matured couples plan for their child right from the beginning. “Small family happy family” is the rule in inclination. Lesser number of children in the family though helps to decrease the rising population of the country but at the same time leads to increase use of infanticide.

Every child on this earth is having equivalent right, but the Indian society always considers a girl child as a load right from the beginning till the end of her life. Infanticide has curbed the nation to such an extent that daily 7000 girls are killed in India and in the past 20 years, 10 Million Girls has been killed. Female feoticide involves the pre-birth determination of the sex of the child and if the sex is “female”, the child is aborted. This practice is in action in both rural and urban areas, but due to poverty and illiteracy, its occurrence is more in rural areas.

Whereas, the urban population is quite aware and open minded, who raise their voice against such “orthodox sin” prevailing in the Indian society. The reasons behind the continuous and exceeding trend of this evil act are: •        Son preference •        Dowry system •        Orthodox society •        Illiteracy •        Poverty •        False use of technology •    Birth of a male child is considered as an auspicious occasion in the Indian families, because the family name is carried on by a male child in many societies. It is a “view” of the traditional and cultural people in veil of “myth” which is in action since a long time. •    Secondly, people believe a girl child make the parents to face the monster of “dowry”. It is common in country either in direct or indirect manner, finally leads to poverty. •    Thirdly, there are still some sections of society which are highly conventional especially the geriatric population who emphasize on “male child” and take it as prosperity for the family. Conservative and superstitious thoughts of old people finish the life of a little girl in the womb of the mother •    Fourthly, the illiterate people consider “female” child as a burden.

Besides that, they blame “mother” for the birth of girl child, which is actually not true. The mother has a tendency to give birth to any sex, because she has XX sex chromosomes. On the contrary, the father has X and Y sex chromosomes, which is actually responsible for the sex of child. If the “X” unites with “X” it results in girl child, and if “X” unites with “Y” it results in boy child. •    Fifthly, “poverty” which is one of the parameters behind the decreased growth of nation is responsible for female feoticide.

Increased number of male in family results in more earning hands and more bread and butter, whereas increased number of female in family results in more hungry stomachs. •    Last but not the least is the subject of false implementation of advanced technology- pre-natal diagnostic techniques such as: Amniocentesis, Ultra-sonography, Foetoscopy, etc. , were used to determine the genetic or birth abnormalities but now-a-days they are used for examining the sex. The doctors on cost of ethical values of their profession are running the dirty business of pre-natal sex determination.

This act as a main reason behind the As one grows through the difficult experiences of puberty, enjoying the liberty of education, exploring the joys of womanhood, it is nauseating to know that someone will never feel the thrill of dancing in the first shower of rain, never breathe the air of freedom, will never be the person she could have been, without any fault of hers but only because she was a girl, a woman in the making. Once in our lives, most of us must have heard that a child is a ‘gift’ from God. Though whatever biology may suggest, it is not an uncommon sight in India to see couples praying to be blessed with a child.

But almost half of India, no longer considers it a blessing if that child happens to be a girl. The blessing soon becomes a curse and the ‘precious gift’ is done away with as soon as possible before extending another demand to God, that of a ‘male’ child. The doing away often includes either being ‘given’ in marriage to another toddler (or in some cases, to men twice or even thrice their age) or worse, slaying her even before she can take one free breath. Of late, technology seems to have facilitated this diabolical slaughter even before the birth of the child in the form of female foeticide.

The United Nations says an estimated 2,000 unborn girls are illegally aborted every day in India. Female foeticide is a practice that involves pre-natal sex determination and a subsequent abortion if the sex of the foetus is female. While the methods of detection may vary from amniocentesis and chronic villus sampling to ultrasonography, the reasons often cited are family pressure, the ‘expenditure’ required for having a girl child ( an obvious reference to dowry that would be necessary for the future marriage) and the perennial desire of the patriarchal society to have a son, an heir, a successor.

The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice but conformity. So people who don’t dare to carry this ‘burden’ often end up conforming to the ludicrous norms. Strange as it may sound to many, especially ‘urban’ people but this unfortunately, is a reality that cannot be ignored with reports of some of the worst sex ratios being found in India. Punjab, Orissa, Rajasthan, Haryana, Maharashtra and even the capital Delhi that have shown the most pronounced effect and it was in these states that the private foetal sex determination clinics were first established.

More shocking still is the fact that this trend is far stronger in urban than rural areas and among the literate than the illiterate, exploding the myth that education and affluence will help to eradicate gender bias. (Even some tribal areas are much better off than cities as far as sex ratios are concerned). Recent government figures show that in high income South Delhi, the sex ratio is 762 females per 1000 males, while in Mumbai’s Borivalli it’s 728 females per 1000 males.

Though the government enacted the Pre- Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act in 1994, which came into force in 1996, situation far from improving, further worsened. A concomitant rise in the number of private clinics providing sex determination test was seen as a result of banning such practices in government hospitals, with even farmers with marginal incomes willing to take loans at 25 percent interest to have the test. Before the Act was amended in 2003, the technology had already reached even in areas which do not have potable water.

As a result, the sex ratio recorded in India in 2001 in children was 927 females per 1000 males as compared to 1961 when it is 976 females per 1000 males. UN reports reveal that between 35 to 40 million girls missing from the Indian population. It is appalling to see in what is still considered one of the noblest professions, doctors participating in this illegal and inhuman money making venture, completely ignoring their ethical duties. Often the result such detections is subtly conveyed with a nod for a boy or a shake of the head or a grimace for a girl, as if she is an incoming catastrophe.

It is ironic to see that maximum sex- selective abortions are performed by lady doctors. Even more disheartening is the fact that women agree (whatever may be their justification) to undergo a sex – selective abortion knowingly contributing to the depletion of their own sex. The hypocrisy of Indian society is pellucid here as on one hand it worships Durga, Kalli and Lakshmi, on the other it doesn’t hesitate to kill what is believed to be their manifestation. While an abortion is understandable for medical reasons or keeping a small family, it’s absolutely incomprehensible that a child is aborted only because it is a girl.

Though female foeticide had entered the lexicon of feminist struggle long back yet the fight still continues. The whole concept of women empowerment is subject to a brutal shock with ghastly cases like polythene bags stuffed with female foetuses being found in Bhubhaneshwar, Orissa. Instances of villages in Rajasthan with not a single girl present, throws glaring light at the horrid fact which also painfully comes across in movies like Matrubhoomi-A Nation Without Women. It is a subject of grave concern especially when there is a vocal and influential school of thought that justifies selective abortion of female foetuses.

Though the matter has been brought up now and then, this issue needs to be taken more seriously than ever and it needs be rewritten and revocalized until it the dogmatic mindset of people undergoes a change. Apart from the looking into factors responsible for female foeticide like low status of women in society and dowry