Earlier in Forum







Q: How to stop female foeticide ?
(This is the second instalment of readers’ response)

Parents, have a heart for the daughter

IF you ask anyone how female foeticide can be stopped, 90 per cent of the respondents will say: “Put a ban on pre-natal sex determination.” I’m not certain it’s going to solve the problem. Imagine a girl child who was allowed to come into this world by her parents only because they were afraid of a certain law that stopped them from killing her in the womb. One can easily imagine the kind of environment she will get in her home. As she grows, it will become increasingly torturous for her to exist. She will have no education, love, care or proper food. It is not our aim to make the body live and let the person inside the body die. Why kill a girl child in the womb only because you have to love and protect her? Won’t you have to do all this for your son? Is your future secure with him? Sometimes, it takes more than just a womb to be a mother.

— SHILPA SARAOGI, Loharu, Haryana

Modify the MTP Act

Bring an amendment in the MTP Act of 1973. Pregnancy termination should not be allowed after 12 weeks. Under the present Act, it is allowed up to 20 weeks of gestation. Pregnancy termination after 12 weeks should be allowed only if the life of the mother is in danger or the foetus has congenital malformations. Septic abortion is still a major cause of maternal mortality even after liberalisation of abortion. Allowing it in private nursing homes will result in an increase in female foeticide, as it is now. Though the government has taken steps to ban the ultrasound laboratories for diagnosis of antenatal sex, it is not going to help since most such centres do not give the authorisation in writing. Second trimester termination of pregnancy is still being carried out mostly in private sector. Over 90 per cent of terminations for limitation of family size are done before 12 weeks and the safest period is 6-8 weeks of gestation and diagnosis can be made by use of ultrasound and pregnancy kits. Barring a few countries, the abortion law is liberalised, and in many of those countries it is allowed only up to 12 weeks. Most of pregnancy terminations (10 per cent in second trimester) are for female foeticide in his part of the country.

— Dr A. N. GUPTA, Formerly, Professor and Head,
Department of Obstetrics and
PGIMER, Chandigarh


Convert the rich; the poor don’t do it

Female foeticide is a grave problem, especially in Punjab, where Guru Nanak Dev spoke for women many years ago. Today, we Punjabis lead the rest of India in killing girls in the womb. The rich class is ahead in this killing because it’s they who have the money to spend on pre-natal sex determination. The poor have no money to buy this service or the doctor’s sanction for this act. Nowadays, society joins with money and not with morality, so to stop foeticide, I think women’s revolution is the only way.

— BARA SANI, VPO Sani Pur (Fatehgarh Sahib)

Educate women

Some of the basic causes for female foeticide are dowry, pre-diagnostic techniques and the belief that only a son can look after his parents. Social awareness and women’s education are what we need to combat this situation. If women are aware of their rights and get better job opportunities, social outlook towards the girl child will change. Religious institution can do a lot in bringing about a social change. Besides, pre-diagnostic law should be stern.


Monitor all expectant mothers

The police and health authorities should enforce the ban on pre-natal sex determination more effectively. All expectant mothers can be registered in hospitals and watched closely till the birth of the child. The circumstances leading to abortions should be probed and any family responsible for female foeticide should get exemplary punishment. The desire to have only male child is meaningless now, as girls excel in every sphere these days. Women should themselves rebel against this practice.

— R. S. HAMDARD, Hamirpur (HP)

Social awakening is needed

Spread the awareness in society that female foeticide is a sin and religion also needs to allow women to have equal rights as men. We need to preach that an imbalance in sex ratio will create a severe shortage of brides in future. If dowry system ends, more and more couples would want to bring girl child into this world. All doctors who aid female foeticide should lose their licences and death should be the only penalty for them.

— MANOJ KALSI, Hamirpur (HP)

Hang the killers

Women have been genetically programmed to dominate men, so it isn’t fair to say that women are frail. If it is tough to stop every Tom, Dick and Harry in a medical centre from offering cheap sex-determination tests, law can at least consider awarding death sentence to those who encourage female foeticide.


Ease burden on girl’s family

The government should take steps to provide girls with free education, interest-free loans (to be self-reliant) and reservation in jobs and educational institutes, so that everyone thinks it’s not a shame to bear a girl child. We can’t continue to live as murderers of unborn girls.

— PARAMJIT KAUR, Chandigarh

Make this offence non-bailable

Female foeticide is now carried out in total secrecy, otherwise there’s no reason that the sex ratio should not improve. A strict implementation of the PNDT Act is needed. Doctors should lose their licences, if found aiding this practice. Officials monitoring the implementation of the PNDT Act should be more efficient. Any woman undergoing sex-determination test should be booked and her husband should automatically be made co-accused. Female foeticide should be a non-bailable offence. A foolproof intelligence network needs to be built up to detect cases of female foeticide. An atmosphere of fear needs to be created for anybody indulging in female foeticide.

— Dr P. P. GHUMAN, Sirhind

Religious leaders can do wonders

Religious leaders should come forward and educate the masses for ending this crime wave. Daughters should get the right to perform the last rites of their father. Religious preachers can ably help in such brainwashing.


Orthodox thinking should end

Laws are stringent enough, but these need to be executed in letter and spirit. Orthodox concepts and feudal mindset should be buried forever. Capital punishment to violators of the PNDT Act can be an effective deterrent. A social movement led by enlightened citizens is the need of the hour.


Desperate remedy is needed

Apart from creating social awakening, we should take strict action against clinics and nursing homes promoting pre-natal sex determination. Special cells should be formed for monitoring these houses of murder. All clinics found carrying out pre-natal sex-determination and female foeticide should be closed straightaway. Desperate situations demand desperate remedy.

— G. R. KALRA, Chandigarh

Raise status of women

The best way to stop female foeticide is to raise the status of women to such an extent that couples start having female babies as a matter of choice. Laws, however stringent, can’t control such problems. The concept of daughters as “Paraya Dhan” should change to “Apna Dhan”. All reservation for women should be abolished, as the word reservation is linked with backwardness. Media should not sensationalise any news related with women. Education for all should be made compulsory.

— Dr ANUP K. GAKKHAR, Jalandhar

Make medical councils step in

The government, NGOs, women and child-development organisations should join hands to create awareness among the masses about the ill effects of female foeticide. No Act alone can eradicate the menace. The medical councils should issue directives to all doctors that they should either desist from conducting fetal sex determination and committing female foeticide or be held guilty of professional misconduct. Women’s empowerment and girl-child education is of paramount importance because literacy leads to confidence, independence, awareness, self-respect and sensibility. Only a healthy and literate woman can raise a healthy and strong nation.

— Dr RAMAN K. AGGARAL, Chairman,
Action Committee,
IMA, Punjab

Down shutters on erring shops

Mass media can help us eliminate gender bias from our minds. The lurking dangers of the skewed sex ratio should be brought forth. Violators of the PNDT Act should be told to shut shop. Regular inspections of private and public hospitals and dispensaries can also control this menace. The law should let no culprit get away.


Edicts might help

Female foeticide should end without further delay. Society is incomplete without the inclusion of women. Mankind has evolved as a balanced blend of both sexes. To eliminate the female seed is to go against nature. The people who have even an iota of faith in any God would never think of killing life before birth. The supreme authority of the Sikhs, Jathedar of the Akal Takht, has rightly expressed his concern over the matter. At least the Sikhs should abide by his edict and stop female foeticide.


Reward voluntary sterilisation

Social organisations should create more awareness that girls are as good as boys. The orthodox views on this subject should be abandoned and the small-family norm should be strictly followed. All centres engaged in pre-natal diagnostic tests leading to female foeticide should now make couples realise that what they have been committing is murder. The government should give financial incentive to every person who undergoes sterilisation after having one or two children.


Force docs to record abortions

Nearly one million girls are being killed in the womb in India each year. Doctors aiding this mass murder make Rs 500 crore or so each year, mainly due to our prejudice against the girl child. It is a sign of our backwardness that the birth of a male child is welcome, whereas, the birth of a female child is an occasion for mourning. Techniques like ultrasound sonography have made it possible for us to know the sex of an unborn child. The inventors of the machine might not have imagined that it would become an instrument of mass murder. Raid the nursing homes and clinics and force the doctors there to keep a record of all abortions. Punish the guilty and cancel their licences; if need be, even prosecute these persons.

— RITA DHINGRA, Panchkula

We need a mass movement

The sex ratio has been declining alarmingly in Haryana, Punjab, Delhi and Rajasthan. Earlier, the main reason for the prejudice against the girl child was dowry, but now perceptions have changed. I heard some parents say that it had now become difficult to protect the chastity of a girl before marriage, so it was better to have a male child. Only mass awareness can kill such strong prejudices and illogical reasoning. What media can do is not enough; we need a mass movement.

— YOGITA DUA, On e-mail

Next Monday: More letters on this issue


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