Sunday, March 25, 2007

Female foeticide 'blot on society': Child Welfare Council

Rohtak (Haryana), March 25 (PTI): Terming female foeticide as a "blot on society", the Deputy Chairperson of Haryana Child Welfare Council, Asha Hooda, today called upon the people to deal with the problem of the declining sex ratio in the state.

Addressing a National Seminar on "Sex Ratio: Problems and Challenges" organised by Institute of Development Study, Maharishi Dayanand University here, she stressed the need to ascertain the reason for decline in sex ratio and find out means to check the menace.

"Female foeticide is a blot on society. A social campaign should be launched against it with the active participation of all sections," the wife of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said.

Referring to the PNDT Act, she said that it had been enacted to check female foeticide, but it could not be very effective "if doctors themselves were hand in glove with the culprits" and called upon the medical community to "boycott" such doctors.

The Central Planning Commission member Sayeeda Hamid said women should raise their voice against domestic violence and strongly advocated the implementation of Domestic Violence Act.

Foeticide issue continues to rock Rajasthan

Jaipur, March 23 (IANS) Increasing instances of female foeticide continue to rock Rajasthan despite the state government's claim that is has taken stern action to stop the criminal practice.
According to reports, three female foetuses were found Tuesday -- one in Alwar and the other two in Ajmer.
"We found three foetuses in a toilet near a children's hospital in Alwar. Out of these, one was a fully developed foetus of a female while the sex of the remaining two could not be determined as these were in premature stage," a police official from Alwar told IANS over phone Friday.
In Ajmer, one female foetus was found behind bushes in Ghugra village and another recovered from a drain near a bus stand in the town.
Police said they were interrogating a number of people to ascertain where the foetuses came from.
A sting operation by a private television channel last year had exposed the increasing female foeticide cases in four states -- Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
The operation had showed various doctors in different parts of these states convincing and encouraging many would-be-parents to go for female foeticide.
According to the 2001 census, the sex ratio in Rajasthan stands poorly at 922 females per 1,000 males.
Meanwhile, the government is expected to come up with a bill seeking direct control over all private hospitals, nursing homes and diagnostic centres in the state following complaints of excessive charges for treatment, negligence in treatment and increasing incidence of foeticide by private health clinics.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Judiciary to play important role against social evils

Gagandeep Ahuja, March 13, 2007

PATIALA: The judiciary is going to take strongest measures for the eradication of the social evil of female foeticide as if not check in time than it will create a social imbalance because of the increasing male-female ratio in the society. This was stated by the additional district and sessions judge, Bhupinder Singh while delivering his presidential address in a seminar here on Monday to celebrate the national legal aid week for women.

The seminar was being organized by the district legal services authority, Patiala in collaboration with all India human rights association, Patiala unit as per the directions of national legal services authority, New Delhi and the guidance of justice M.M.Kumar, Judge, Punjab and Haryana high court, Chandigarh as well as the district and sessions judge, Patiala cum chairman, district legal services authority, Patiala, Inderjit Singh Walia. The seminar was organized in the auditorium of the government medical college here. The seminar was also attended among others by K.K.Kareer, civil judge (senior division)-cum- secretary, district legal services authority, Patiala, Lt.col.(Retd.)Bishan Dass, district chief all India human rights association, Patiala, Brig. (Retd.) D.S.Grewal, Satinder Kaur, Suman Batra (social workers) and Dr Sarita Aggarwal and many others.

While delivering his presidential address on this occasion Bhupinder singh also elaborated the various enactments which have been brought forth by the constitution and other laws to protect the rights of the women. He also stressed that female foeticide is required to be curbed at every cost and said that the judiciary is going to take strict measures against it with a view to save the society from this social evil. He also warned the doctors to be careful in future as they would not be able to escape the net of law and would be treated like any other criminals if they are caught violating the provisions of the PNDT Act. He also held responsible the literate class in comparison to illiterates for encouraging the female foeticide as the cases of the femicide were generally reported from urban areas instead of the rural areas. He also exhorted the women class to come forward to protect their own rights under the provisions of the constitution. He said that the constitution has provided them right of equality in their parental property too.
On the other hand secretary of the district legal services authority-cum-civil judge (senior division), K.K.Kareer while speaking on this occasion also exhorted every body to join hands for the proper implementation of the laws enacted for the social security of women and added this is possible only with a changed mind set. He said that illiteracy is the root cause for the awarness among the women for their rights as per the data only 39 per cent women in the country were literate and asked the women to increase their number in the literacy race. Whereas the district chief of the all India human rights association,Patiala unit, Lt.Col (Retd.) Bishan Dass in his address while feeling sorry for the plight of the women exhorted the younger generation to come forward for the proper eradication of the social evils from the country for the creation of a prosperous society.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Decreasing Sex Ratio and Pregnant Women's Attitude Towards Female Foeticide

Discussion article - The purpose to put this article on blog was to make available the relevant information in public domain and to invoke discussions on its findings..

Nursing Journal of India, Apr 2005 by Sarna, Kamla

A descriptive study to assess the knowledge about decreasing sex ratio and attitude towards female foeticide of pregnant women attending antenatal OPD in a selected hospital in Ludhiana, Punjab. The Constitution of India guarantees equality to women. It empowers the states to adopt measures for affirmative discrimination in favor of women and also impose a fundamental duty on its citizens to uphold the dignity of women but despite all this, India's deep rooted "sons only" ethos continues and girls and women face inequity and inequality everywhere. They are devalued as human beings from the day they are born. But what is worse is that they are even denied the right to be born, if their families do not wish them to be born.

New developments in medical technology have helped to improve health care for millions of people. One cheap and widely available test can determine the sex of the child. There is gross misuse of reproductive technology in a society characterized by a strong bias against a female child. The census report of 2001 presents a grim reality indicating an imbalance in the ratio of female and male. It is a common fact that the sex ratio in India is lower than international standards i.e. sex ratio in India is 933 while the world average is 986 (Dutta, 2001 ).
Number of causes are responsible for the continuous decline in the sex ratio e.g. poverty, illiteracy, culture and preference for male child etc. The discrepancy in the sex ratio in the lowest age group is found in most prosperous areas of IndiaPunjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana and Chandigarh. All these states have sex ratio of less than 900 females to 1000 males below the age of six.

The declining sex ratio could result in a demographic and social disaster. In such a situation it is the primary duty of the health professionals to provide proper information to the general public about the declining sex ratio and its affects in India. The present study was undertaken in order to determine to what extent the pregnant women are oriented to the actual problem of declining sex ratio and also to ascertain their attitude towards female foeticide.

Objectives of the Study

1. To assess the knowledge of pregnant women about decreasing sex ratio.
2. To assess the attitude of pregnant women towards female foeticide.
3. To find out the relationship of attitude of pregnant women towards female foeticide with variables i.e. age, education, religion, occupation, married for years, family income, type of family, residence and source of information etc.

Materials and Methods

A descriptive study approach was used to conduct the study, which was conducted in Antenatal OPD of Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana. Purposive random sampling technique was used for selection of sample. The population consisted of 50 pregnant women attending OPD. The time period of study was from 1.6.2002 to 15.7.2002. The technique and methods used were structured questionnaire was developed based on review of literature. It ' consisted of three parts.

The first part consisted of items for obtaining personal information about age, education, religion, occupation, married for years, family income, and type of family and source of information. The second part consisted of statements to find our knowledge of clients about sex ratio, decreasing ratio, causes of declining sex ratio and affects and problems related to female foeticide. The statements were developed for the respondents to respond on 'Yes' or 'No' or 'Do not know' basis. Each correct response was given one score and wrong response was not given any score. Hence maximum score was 20 for twenty statements and minimum score was zero.
Assessing the attitude is an important aspect because attitude , may differ from individual to individual; attitude is concerned with the beliefs, interests, ideas of person and also to the behavior of the person. The third part deals with the statements regarding assessment of attitude of pregnant women towards female foeticide. The statements were developed for the respondents to respond on five point Likert scale i.e. strongly agree, , agree, undecided, disagree and strongly disagree. There were total 20 statements, which include 10 negative and 10 positive statements. For positive statements, the responses qualified by giving score as SA - 5, agree -4, U-3, DA - 2, SDA- 1. Negative statements scored reversely. Hence maximum score was 100 and minimum score 20.

Findings and Discussions

Sample Characteristics:
Majority of the clients were in the age group of 21-30 years (72%) followed by 24% in the age group of 3 1 -40( years and only 4% above 40 years. 48% of them were the academic qualification of plus two and above, 30% were illiterate and 22% had passed 10th class. Most of women were Hindus (48%), followed by Sikhs 32%, Christians 14% and Muslims only 6%. Majority of women (76%), were housewives and 24% were professionals. Maximum number of women (66%) were married for 1-9 years, 30% of women married for 10-19 years and 4% married for more than 20 years. 54% of them were having family income 5001-10000, 36% had income less than 5000 and only 10% were with income more than 10,000. Most of women (72%) resided in urban area and 28% belonged to rural areas. For 62% source of information was mass media (TV, newspapers and radio etc.) and 38% got information from rela-tives.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Concern over female foeticide

The Hindu, March 10, 2007

''Female foeticide remains the gravest of all issues concerning women "Every night in a hospital, a girl child is aborted in silence"

NEW DELHI: Even as the country celebrated the spirit of women on International Women's Day on Thursday, female foeticide remains the gravest of all the issues concerning women and education of girl child also needs urgent attention. As women on all continents -- divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic and cultural differences -- came together to celebrate the day, organisations working for women emancipation across the country hoped that every woman would be actively involved in raising awareness about issues concerning them and work for building confidence among Dalit and Adivasi women.

According to Centre for Social Research (CSR) Director Ranjana Kumari, every night in a hospital, a girl child is aborted in silence. "This is a state of emergency and protecting the girl child is the need of the hour." Dr. Kumari also called for a comprehensive policy to ensure universal access to healthcare and security for the elderly population, especially aged women. "Several researchers suggest that women live longer than men. It is important that policies are also formulated for the elderly keeping the gender dimension in mind," added Dr. Kumari. As women struggle to participate in society on an equal footing with men, women's groups are gearing up to address the grave problem of dismal care that women receive .

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Infanticide a frightening reality in MP

NDTV, Rubina Khan ShapooThursday, March 8, 2007 (Shivpuri):

In Madhya Pradesh a determined effort to cut down on female infanticide has thrown up some shocking details.The child sex ratio in the Chambal district has dropped drastically from 2001 and sex determination tests and infanticide remain a frightening reality.Its mandatory for clinics to inform visitors that sex determination is illegal but behind the walls the law is often broken.Two private practitioners in Shivpuri are on the run because a medical audit established that they practised sex selection and abortion of female fetuses.It followed a high court order to implement the PNDT act in 11 districts in Chambal division since they had the worst sex ratio in the state.Shocking statisticsThe administration first ordered a door-to-door survey of children between zero to six in December 2006. The statistics were shocking.

The child sex ratio had dipped sharply from 904 girls per 1000 boys in 2001 to 846 girls per 1000 boys in 2006. Under the PNDT Act all diagnostic centers must have detailed medical records of all pregnant women getting an ultrasound done.Nearly hundred health workers and a local NGO painstakingly examined 7148 forms collected from three private diagnostic centers.Though many forms had anomalies, only two cases clearly established that the mother had undergone a sex determination test during 13th - 15th week of pregnancy and then had an abortion.In both cases the link was clear between the two doctors. Dr Anita Verma had asked for the ultrasound, and Dr Bansal, a radiologist had performed them."We made both the doctors party to the crime and we filed an action against them under the PNDT act in the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court," said Dinesh Kaushal, CMMHO, Appropriate Authority, PNDT Act.Medical records examined.

For the first time in India doctors are being held accountable on the basis of a very scientific census based on door-to-door survey and thorough examination of medical records."We wanted to send clear message that yes the act has enough powers, we feel it is a mile stone," said Manohar Agnani, the Collector.Meanwhile the lawyers of the absconding doctors refused to talk on camera. The session court has denied bail to the two doctors. Now the matter is in high court.This attempt to nab the guilty doctors based on medical audit is perhaps the first of its kind in India.It can easily be a model for others to follow in their battle against female foeticide. A much needed attempt to save the girl child.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Girls Pay Price for India's Preference for Boys

Voice of America - By Steve Herman New Delhi 05 March 2007

In India - the world's second most populous nation (after China) - there is a shortage of girls. A large part of the problem is a perception that girls are a financial burden. This preference for boys has led to the abortion of millions of female fetuses, or in some cases, even the murder of girl babies. VOA's Steve Herman in New Delhi reports.

Indian school girls (file photo)The girls of India are disappearing. On average there are only about 930 girls for every 1,000 boys. Boys tend to be preferred because they carry on the family name. But families here also fear the financial burden of girls - when it comes time to pay huge traditional dowries to their daughters' future husbands upon marriage. Sabu George, an academic and activist, says modern medicine makes it possible for Indian couples to now know the sex of their child before it is born.

"In our country ultrasound is becoming a weapon of mass destruction. Instead of saving lives, what we are finding is that millions and millions of girls are being eliminated before birth," she said. Using ultrasound tests to determine a fetus's gender is illegal in India. But Corinne Woods of the U.N. Children's Fund says that has hardly stopped the practice.
"What's known is that act is being flouted. You go in for an ultrasound and you're handed a pink candy or a blue candy," she said.

Woods says the pink candy is frequently the signal to request an abortion - especially among India's middle and upper classes, where activist Sabu George sees even more discrimination against women than among the lowest classes. "Improved socio-economic status of women seems to be becoming very, very anti-girl. In part because the most educated families have the least number of children and the smallest number of children are obtained by eliminating girls," George said.

Woman looks on during rally against female focticide in New Delhi (file photo)Researchers say one out of every 25 female fetuses in India is aborted - an estimated half million a year.
Parents who cannot afford expensive tests may take matters into their own hands. In some rural areas girl babies have been reported to be killed immediately after birth - strangled, suffocated or buried alive. And, often, girls who survive infancy die quite young activists say because they are given less food and medical care than their brothers. Those who do survive will generally get less of an education - in both quality and quantity - than the boys in the family.
Corinne Woods at UNICEF says her organization and others hope to replicate the success they have had with educating villagers about malnutrition to get them to change their attitudes about girls.

"Creating a culture at the village level of the value of girls is key," she said. "And also creating a culture whereby the women's group in the village is saying 'don't do this.' So it's peer pressure."
In the central Indian city of Bhopal a gynecologist and janitor at a hospital were arrested recently following the discovery in a pit behind the medical facility of the remains of an estimated 400 female fetuses and newborn babies. India's government is proposing to set up orphanages to raise unwanted girls, hoping that will cut down on the number of abortions and infanticides. But some experts express little hope, saying the idea has been tried before and in many of the orphanages the girls suffered terrible neglect.

Researcher Sabu George predicts that despite political and legal measures, attitude changes will be slow in coming. "As long as this indifference continues our numbers of missing girls will continue to increase. And in the next 10 years we are very likely to exceed China in terms of having the country with the largest number of girls eliminated before birth," George said.
Social scientists are ringing the alarm about the long-term ramifications. They say history has shown societies with a surplus of young men who have no hope of marriage suffer from instability and surges in crime and violence.