Speaking at a function on "Against Female Foeticide" organized by the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) in New Delhi today, the Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss said a long-term solution to the problem of female foeticide lies in creating the right socio-economic environment, where sons and daughters are equally valued. This can be achieved by creating awareness about the gender equality through advocacy and communication efforts along with empowering the women suitably. Besides, Mt. Annie Raja, General Secretary of the NFIW and other members of the Federation, Smt. Mohini Giri, Former Chairperson, National Commission for Women were also present at the function.
Praising the efforts made by the Federation in creating awareness among the younger generation to the problem of declining sex ratio, the Minister said the answer lies in creating awareness about the true worth of women, the irrelevance - and also the illegality - of sex selection, and the need to question old and outdated rituals and social behaviour.
Speaking further he said that legislation like Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act (PNDT Act) alone cannot solve the problem of sex selection practices and its impact on the adverse sex ratio. It also requires social mobilization. However, if the provisions of the Act are enforced effectively, it can substantially curb such practices and send a loud and clear message to the violators in particular and the society at large that gender-based discrimination shall not be permitted. The Implementation of the Act rests with the States and Union Territories through the Appropriate Authorities appointed under the Act at State, District as well as at Sub-district levels. The violators of the Act are punishable with imprisonment up to 5 years and fine up to Rs.1 lakh, along with cancellation of registration of the license. Under the Act, units using Ultrasound equipment should get themselves registered with the local Appropriate Authorities, failing which they may be sealed and seized.
The Minister added that Government of India is taking keen interest to improve the primary health care services in the country. The recently launched National Rural Health Mission would address the problems including the declining sex ratio. Law alone will not be able to solve the problem. Each one within his or her own domain, has to play a role to curb this practice whether as parents, teachers, doctors, lawyers, journalists etc. All of us have to work together to create a gender-balanced society.