'Make Laws Against Pre-Natal Sex Selection Stringent'
12 oct 2010
The national commissions for women and human rights today voiced serious concern over the decline in ratio of girls to boys and suggested making laws more stringent to check pre-natal sex selection and female foeticide in the country.
"Sex ratio is declining in the country every year due to female foeticide. We had suggested certain amendments in the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (prohibition of sex selection) Act, 1994, three years ago but nothing has so far been done....The Act should be more stringent," Chairperson of National Commission for Women Girija Vyas said.
She was addressing a conference organised jointly by National Human Rights Commission and National Commission for Women on 'Pre-natal sex selection in India:Issues, Concerns and Action'.
Vyas underlined that there are many "lacunae" in the Act and the rate of conviction is "very low".
"Under the Act, punishment is very less. There is no provision for police intervention or third party intervention under the Act," she said.
The NCW chief noted that "abortion is allowed in extraordinary situation but there is no such distinction (in practice). Not a single state, even Kerala, is spared (where incidents of female foeticide do not occur)."
Practice of female foeticide is still continuing in many states including several districts of Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Rajasthan. None of the health clinics have been found to be "upto the mark" even in the national capital, she said.
Addressing the conference, NHRC chairperson Justice K G Balakrishnan lamented that there is no law in the country to address the basic regulatory requirements for opening a hospital.
"Unfortunately in India, there are no effective provision for opening a clinic, a health centre, even a hospital. There is no law to address the basic things, fundamental (regulatory) requirements for opening a hospital," he said.
"Clinics should be periodically inspected by authorised officials. There should be some provision that clinic could always be managed by some senior doctors.... These things can bring change to a great extent," Balakrishnan suggested.
He said that laws to curb female foeticide and sex selection practices are not implemented properly.
"PCPDT Act, 1994 has penal provisions. Unfortunately, police are unable to detect such crimes as those cases are always collusive in nature," the former Chief Justice of India said.
Balakrishnan noted that there was need for better implementation of the existing laws and change in the "mindset" of society for checking the declining sex ration in the country or else crime against women, like trafficking, would rise in the country.
Underlining the role of doctors, he suggested that they should be "a little more active and sensitive" towards "this social evil".
Doctors "must" give correct advice to those who approach them for pre-natal diagnostic test and abortion of female foetus, he said.
"But, unfortunately, nature of man to accumulate more wealth creates problems," he added.