Female foeticide has been stated as one of our society’s gravest social evils, and in an effort to counter it the Pre- Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, (PCPNDT) 1994 was enacted.
PCPNDT prohibits sex determination after conception and sex-selective abortions, another huge problem in india. The preference for male children is not an unknown nor a new phenomenon. Although the child sex ratio has recently seen an improvement, patriarchal society still prefers sons to daughters for countless social and cultural reasons.
Well, the Maharashtra Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) feels that all these measures are unnecessary and pre-natal sex determination should be mandatory. Why you ask? They feel it would prevent female foeticide. In a report, tabled in the Assembly on April 9, they state that when parents come in for a sonography a test should be done, and then the couple should be tracked following the results, keeping them under a microscope in case it’s a female foetus. This monitoring will keep the parents in check and is to be carried out regularly by local health officials.
“When parents come for sonography, compulsory sex determination must be allowed and follow-ups must be done at the local level to ensure the couples come for further check- ups. It is necessary to visit these couples at home if they stop check-ups,” they said, further adding, “Since the law only provides for action against doctors (for carrying out sex selection tests), there is no fear of the law among parents. But this fear of law among parents is necessary to increase the sex ratio. Doctors, parents, district health officers (DHOs) and NGOs must be involved in the tracking system.”
They posit that PCPNDT only holds doctors liable, and parents too need to be held responsible in such cases. Now, there are several things that can terribly awry with the Panel’s suggestions. Giving false contact information would be the easiest recourse for parents, and it is the woman that’ll be in the limelight, while in most cases, women themselves aren’t in control of their own birthing process, nor what follows. It’ll lead to unsafe abortion procedures being carried out in unhygienic locations, even abandonment of pregnant women, or worse, death at the hands of unhappy families. All of this is purely a suggestion by the Panel, as off now, and the intention of holding families responsible is reasonable (to an extent), but the logic behind most of it just doesn’t make sense. Increasing the sex ratio is important, but in a country where there is no fear of the law, how far could this really go in terms of proper on-ground implementation. Who makes sure there is appropriate monitoring and checks without scope of corruption, bribes and misuse? Do we have the infrastructure, human and financial resources to protect pregnant women and ensure healthy, safe delivery of children?
You can read more about PAC’s report in Maya Palit’s analysis for The Ladies Finger here.
Representational feature image via Kractivist