A dull murmur rose
among the assembled audience. Seeing that her revelation had created the
desired effect, Mrs. Phavalam went on "....... And amidst this fall in the Child Sex
ratio (CSR) across the country (from 927 females against 1000 males in 2001 to
914 against 1000 males in 2011), a doctor, who was identified and suspended for
Sex Selective abortion is now seated in the State Advisory Committee for PCPNDT
(Pre Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques) Act. It is this poor style
of implementation of this Act that has led to the decline in CSR."
Mrs. P. Phavalam, a
civil rights activist, was speaking at a recent event organized in Chennai city
in South India by CASSA (Campaign Against Sex Selective Abortion) to discuss
strategies in halting sex selective abortion..
The PCPNDT Act
The Pre Conception and
Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act 1996
commonly known as the PCPNDT Act, is a law formulated to prevent sex selective
abortion in India by making gender determination of the fetus unlawful. Simply
stated, it is illegal to try and find out if the baby in the womb is male or
female. Advisory committees were introduced in each state to implement this Act
following judicial orders. But as in many government provisions, even these
advisory committees are non effective and in majority, are cramped with medical
practices (sometimes tainted ones as mentioned by Phavalam).
Uninterested authorities, Undisturbed nexus galore
implementation of this Act means people have access to determine the fetal
gender, which further increases the scope of sex selective abortion," Mrs.A.
Gandhimati, another civil rights activist told Medindia in the sidelines of the
event. Adding that she and her organisation had filed over 400 petitions
against various scanning centres across the state for illegally determining the
gender of the fetus, Gandhimati alleges that no action has been taken so far.
"It is as if they are not interested in this issue," she said.
Tilting the gender balance: Fertility centre as the new
"Adding to the
Sonography centres are the fertility centres, readily helping obsessed parents
conceive male children via ART (Artificial Reproductive Techniques). This nexus
is turning rampant with some fertility centres reaping the benefits. We have
seen cases where a 60 yearr-old woman wished to have a male child through ART,"
said Ranjani K. Moorthy, another Researcher and Civil Activist.
The Pune and Himachal Model
Offering a solution to
the misuse of ART and better implementation of PCPNDT, Mrs. Sheila Jeyaprakash,
an advocate seeking to set right the lopsided sex ratio in India said, "We
should bring in a system wherein the Fertility centre submits monthly or Quarterly
reports to the State Authority, which includes various aspects relating to
every individual case they receive, especially when the scan has been
performed, because chances are that the parents have been alerted of the
child's gender. And we could also make a provision in which it is compulsory to
specify the gender of the aborted fetus. This way we would be able to identify
the fertility centres that indulge in wrongdoing. The PCPNDT Act, though widely
blamed for being ineffective, has been very useful in Pune and Himachal
Pradesh. This is because the authorities in these places involved more of civil
participation in their advisory committees through NGOs and activists. Such
civil activist participation technique must be adopted in Tamil Nadu as well."
The alarming fall in child sex ratio recorded in
India's latest census and the birth of fewer female babies in recent years is a
matter of serious concern. Social activists blame it on governmental apathy and
the popular preference for a male child that runs deep in the Indian psyche and
culture. A whole hearted effort from all quarters to regain a healthy male and
female ratio is a vital step in steering any country onto a successful future.