Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Save the Girl child : Message by youth

Students of the Upmanyu Adhyapan Mandir PTC college in Sola Road have made a five-feet rakhi with a 'Stop Female Foeticide: Save the Girl Child' message on eve of Rakshabandhan. The rakhi has been dedicated to the cause of the girls to make the citizens aware about the evils of skewed sex ratio. Numerous slogans advocating the virtues of having a female progeny have also been included in the rakhi.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Gender tests fuel killing of India's unborn girls

By Nita Bhalla

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The widespread use of illegal tests to determine the sex of an unborn child is fuelling a rise in female foeticide cases in India, social activists and officials said on Tuesday.

Sex determination tests through techniques such as ultrasonography and amniocentesis are banned in India, but female foetuses are still commonly killed in some regions where a preference for sons runs deep.

As a result, the government says around 10 million girls have been killed by their parents -- either before or immediately after birth -- over the past 20 years.

"Sex selection has been the main culprit for the declining female child ratio in the country," Pravir Krishna, a senior official from the ministry of health, said at a meeting on the role of sex selection tests in the killing of female foetuses.

"Technology has given us a lot of benefits, but this is one aspect of technology which has given us a serious problem."

Last month, police discovered 30 polythene bags stuffed with the body parts of female foetuses and newly born babies in a abandoned well near a clinic in eastern India, sparking protests.

In most parts of the country, many people see boys as breadwinners who will look after their parents when they grow up but view daughters as liabilities for whom they will have to pay huge dowries to get married off.

Since technology for monitoring the health of a foetus started in India in the 1980s, many clinics and hospitals have misused it to determine the gender of unborn children, at the request of couples.

Survey by NGO reveals that Chembur clinics in Mumbai flout sex tests

A survey of 40 ultra-sound clinics in Chembur by Laadli Alliance a group of 10 NGOs has revealed shocking revelations. Not one of the 40 clinics here follows the rules prescribed in the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act 1994 (PCPNDT Act), aimed at curbing female foeticide.

Mumbai's sex ratio is 898 girls per 1000 boys. Sex discrimination and female foeticide are issues that Mumbai needs to tackle on a war footing. The report is being sent the report to public health department, family welfare department and National PCPNDT Cell, of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), demanding strict action against the clinics.

"Four teams, armed with authorisation letters from the BMC, surveyed 47 sonography clinics in M (West) Ward between July 18 and August 8 2007. Seven of the clinics were non-operational, the remaining 40 were found to be flouting various rules of the PCPNDT Act. Shockinginlgy many doctors claimed that they were not even aware of the Act.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Only 86 cases were registered in year 2005 under PC & PNDT Act in India

Number of cases of foeticide registered during 2003, 2004 and 2005 was 57, 86, and 86 respectively in the country. In order to check female foeticide, the Government has enacted the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PC&PNDT Act). The technique of pre-conception sex selection has been brought within the ambit of this Act so as to pre-empt the use of such technologies, which significantly contribute to the declining sex ratio. Use of ultrasound machines has also been brought within the purview of this Act more explicitly so as to curb their misuse for detection and disclosure of sex of the foetus lest it should lead to female foeticide. The sale of ultrasound machines has been regulated through laying down the condition of sale only to the bodies registered under the Act.

At the district level, as per the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PC&PNDT Act), the Appropriate Authority which is the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the district has been empowered to implement the Act. The Appropriate Authority is aided and advised by the Advisory Committee in the discharge of its functions. The Advisory Committee is consists of three medical experts, a legal expert, a publicity expert and three social workers/NGOs (out of which one is from women’s organization). In addition, a ‘National Support and Monitoring Cell’ has been set up for effective implementation of the Act.

This information was given by the Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss in a reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha. (Ref - PIB release)

In year 2005 out of total 86 cases registered 21 were in Chhattisgarh, 12 in madhya Pradesh, 12 in Punjab, 10 in Rajasthan, 8 in Haryana, 4 in Gujarat and Maharashtra

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tamil Nadu's Child Sex Ratio Falls Further

Three more districts have now been added to half a dozen in Tamil Nadu known for a declining child sex ratio, say worried health department officials reviewing female foeticide and the existing laws.The new districts that have shown the disturbing trend are Cuddalore, Perambalur and Tuticorin.

At a weekend conclave here, supported by the Tamil Nadu government, senior health officials called for increased inspections of maternity and scan centres, while campaigners urged adding punishment provisions to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.Everyone demanded that birth control methods should be made freely available to women, irrespective of marital status.

'In 1960s, Tamil Nadu's juvenile sex ratio (0-6 years) was 995 female/1,000 male births; in 2001 it was 939/1,000 male births,' pointed out P. Phavalam, convenor of the Campaign Against Sex Selective Abortion (CASSA). 'Of Tamil Nadu's 201 talukas (village blocks), 28 have juvenile sex ratio below 900 and six have below 800. In 16 districts, it was below 952 in 2004, less than the worldwide accepted sex ratio,' she added. In Perambalur district, the female-male child sex ratio at birth was 944/1,000 in 2001. This has now dropped to 928/1,000, data collected at government primary public health centres over seven years has shown.In Melamathure in the district, the sex ratio has fallen from 890 in 2001 to 747 in 2006. Around Irumblikurichi, it has fallen from 985 to 725, in Gunamangalam it has fallen to 709 female children per thousand male children.

In Cuddalore district, the female-male ratio at birth has fallen from 960 at the turn of the millennium to 915 now. In 2006, in villages and towns round Marungur and Perperiyankuppam, the sex ratio fell to 647/1,000 and 695/1,000 respectively from around 800 in 2001.In infanticide hotspots like Salem, the sex ratio has improved from 890 to 912, but in places like Elampillai, where the ratio was already low (819), it has become lower still, 746/1,000 male births.The problem continues to persist in Chellampatti region of Madurai where female births have declined further.In places like Powerkadu, in Namakkal, where for every 1,000 male births there were 1,176 girl children in 2001, only about 702 are born now.Virudhnagar district too has seen a decline of the sex ratio from 949 to 915/1,000 male children in the last six years.Tuticorin district, industrialising rapidly, has also seen the sex ratio fall from 969 to 930 in six years.

In areas like Mukuperi, the ratio has fallen from 1,134 female children/1,000 male children in 2001 to only 704 female children per 1,000 male children being born in 2006.Erode district, a well-known educational and textile hub, has seen the sex ratio at birth fall from 957 female children to 927/1,000 male children, indicating technology has aided in reducing the number of girl children.

In S. Kailasapuram area of Kovilpatti, only 631 female children were born per 1,000 male children in 2006.Only Dharmapuri district has shown remarkable improvement, the figure rising from 888 to 920/1,000 male births in six years. All these figures come from the government health department.Almost 40 years after the first campaigns to stem killing of the female new-born and foetus in this state began, special secretary to the Tamil Nadu government, health and family welfare P.W.C. Davidar says, 'the truth is, we spend more time at meetings than on inspections'.

'The data coming in from even our public health centres tell us we need to question our methodology of intervention,' Davidar told IANS. Before 1971, the abortion laws, which were part of the Indian Penal Code, recognised the right of the unborn child over the reproductive right of the mother.In 1971 came the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, which for the first time established the right of the mother to an abortion. In 2002-3 came the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (prohibition of sex selection) Act (PCPNDT Act), which was punishment legislation.The conclave demanded that the IPC provisions and the PCPNDT provisions should become part of the MTP Act. A Unicef study has shown that sex selective abortions account for 500,000 missing girls annually in India; the female-male ratio at birth is a universal societal health indictor.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Village in Rajasthan resolves to stop foeticide

A village panchayat in Rajasthan’s Alwar district has decided to take measures in order to prevent female foeticide. The panchayat in Alwar’s Majra village, 150 km from Jaipur, will give a prize money of Rs 5,100 to a person giving information about illegal sex determination tests being conducted in the area. While declaring foeticide an “appalling crime and a blemish on society”, the panchayat decided to penalise the people indulging in it. “We read reports of increasing foeticide cases daily and this prompted us to take this step. We will do our best to curb it,” Mahadev, sarpanch (chief) of the panchayat said. He said that the panchayat would motivate villagers to help stop foeticide. “We have decided to give Rs 5,100 to the informer and we are also thinking about how to punish persons indulging in this act,” Mahadev said. “We feel that this kind of decision is important, otherwise there would be very few girls left,” he added.

Vernacular dailies pulling NRIs home for sex tests

Charan Gill of the Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society in Surrey, British Columbia (BC), told media that two vernacular newspapers published out of Chandigarh and Vancouver were brazenly carrying advertisements of ultrasound clinics for sex determination in BC that promoted female foeticide. These newspapers are distributed across Canada and are very popular within the Punjabi community. "It's disgusting to see that some newspapers carry such advertisements for profit. They ought to know these lead to foeticide and skewing of the female-male population of Punjabis in Canada," said Gill. According to him, an Ottawa-based family rights group's statistics suggests that abortions targeting female foetuses are taking place in BC's Indo-Canadian community. He said the study conducted showed only 100 girls to 108 boys, a definite trend towards a gender imbalance going by earlier figures. NRIs who visit India for these tests are either visiting home for a long duration, or are poor and cannot afford abortions abroad. In some cases, they come from countries where abortion isn't encouraged because of Roman Catholicism. Abortion for sex selection is banned in India since 1994.