Friday, April 1, 2011

High Masculine Sex- Ratio in India–An Analysis of PNDT Act

High Masculine Sex- Ratio in India–An Analysis of PNDT Act :

The Recent provisional 2011 census report revealed that Child sex ratio drops to lowest since Independence,it has dropped to 914 females against 1,000 males,Madhu Kishwar says[1]Sick culture of preferring sons” is the reason for lower sex ratio.


Definition of Infanticide:

Female infanticide is the deliberate killing of girl babies. It is also described as gender-selective killing or "gendercide". (Similar words like 'gynocide' and 'femicide'  are used to describe the killing of females of any age.)[2] Female infanticide is more common than male infanticide
In sociology and biology, infanticide is the practice of intentionally causing the death of an infant of a given species by a member or members of the same species. Several species other than homo sapiens commit infanticide, particularly fish and reptiles.One perhaps surprising mammalian example is the bottlenose dolphin, which has been reported to kill its young through impact injuries.[3]
Infanticide was common in most literate ancient cultures, including those of ancient Greece, Rome, India, China, and Japan. The practice of infanticide has taken many forms, such as child sacrifice to supernatural figures or forces, as allegedly practiced in ancient Carthage Pagans in the Roman Empire had a very different view about the value of human life than we do today. Infanticide was legal and encouraged in ancient Greece and Rome. Other pagan societies, such as the Carthaginians, went so far as to kill their children as religious sacrifices to their gods[4]

"Know that I am still in Alexandria.... I ask and beg you to take good care of our baby son, and as soon as I received payment I shall send it up to you. If you are delivered (before I come home), if it is a boy keep it, if a girl, discard it."
The Qur'an on female infanticide “When the infant girl, is buried alive, is questioned, for what crime she was killed”.[Surah 81 v 8 – 9] , “You shall not kill your children for fear of want. We will provide for them and for you. To kill them is a grievous sin.”[Surah 17 v 31, The Sikhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism condemned infanticide.

Baha'u'llah,founder prophet of the Baha'i Faith unequivocally asserts the spiritual equality of women and men. He states, "All should know… Women and men have been will always be equal in the sight of God," and He indicates that, "In this Day the Hand of Divine grace hath removed all distinctions. The servants of God and His handmaidens are regarded on the same plane."[5]


China and India have the highest rates because of sex-selective infanticide and abortion. China, where the introduction of ultrasound scans in the late 1980s has led to a birth sex ratio of 1.19 (2005 data), according to Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Fisher's principle:

Fisher's principle is an explanation of why the sex ratio of most species is approximately 1:1. Outlined by Ronald Fisher in his 1930 book, it is an argument in terms of parental expenditure. Essentially he argues that the 1:1 ratio is the evolutionarily stable strategy.[6]
India : Sex Ratio

The Census 2011's provisional data, released on 30th March 2011 showed that the sex ratio for children below 6 years has dropped from 927 to a dismal 914 girls for every 1,000 boys.[7]

2001 Census Sex Ratio:
India                                       933
Rural                                       946  
Urban                                     900

2001 cenus  Sex Ratio Data 

State with Highest Female Sex Ratio Kerala                             1,058

State with Lowest Female Sex Ratio Haryana                            861

UT with Highest Female Sex Ratio Pondicherry                       1,001

UT with Lowest Female Sex Ratio Daman & Diu                       710

District with Highest Female Sex Ratio Mahe (Pondicherry)   1,147

District with Lowest Female Sex Ratio Daman (Daman & Diu) 591[8]

Overview of law relating to Infanticide &abortion in India: 

The Article 21 of Indian constitution provides right to life and right to privacy and the Article 6(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights prohibit the arbitrary deprivation of life. However, under MTP Act, 1971" guarantees the Right of Women in India to terminate an unintended pregnancy by a registered medical practitioner in a hospital established or maintained by the Government or a place being approved for the purpose of this act by the Government. But not all pregnancies can be terminated. The abortion is not allowed after 20 weeks of pregnancy, unless under exceptional circumstances such as a threat to the mother’s life. Section 3 of the MTP Act contends that pregnancy can be terminated if therapeutic causes like   physical &mental abnormalities or victim of rape, failure of contraception  or risk death of pregnant women.

Section 312 &313 of Indian Penal Code

"Whoever voluntarily causes women with child to miscarry shall,if such miscarriage be caused in good faith  for the purpose of saving the life of the w omen,be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend three years or with fine and if the women be quick with child ,shall be punished with  imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years ,and shall also be liable to fine"

"Whoever commits the offence defined in the last preceding section without the consent of the woman, whether the woman is quick with child or not, shall be punished with [ imprisonment for life] or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine"

In Roe Vs Wade by the US Supreme Court in this case the Court held that a mother may abort her pregnancy for any reason, up until the "point at which the fetus becomes 'viable.'".
In Arun Balakrishnan Iyer and Anr vs. Soni Hospital and Ors[9] , the Madras High Court held that, the removal of the uterus without the consent is actionable claim and victim is liable for compensation. But in Ms.X vs. Mr. Z and Anr,[10] the Delhi High Court held that an aborted foetus was not a part of a body of women and allowed the DNA test of the aborted foetus at the instance of the husband though the application was opposed by the wife on the ground ‘Right to Privacy”. The court held that right to privacy is not absolute right  and aborted foetus is not part of her body.

Sex-selective abortion &PNDT Act :

Female infanticide had been prohibited through legislation in the pre-independence period, certain provision like section 312 to 317of Indian Penal Code,1860, existing before India attaining independence.

It was the state of Maharashtra ,which enacted the  first law called “Maharashtra Regulation of Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1988”  and later ,Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act  20th September 1994 was enacted by Government of India.
Pre –natal test should be used only to detecting genetic or metabolic disorders or chromosomal abnormalities or certain congenital mal-formations or sex-linked disorders and act sought to prevent the misuse of the test for sex-determaintion, which will eventually lead to abortion of female fetus. According to UNICEF, the problem is getting worse as scientific methods of detecting the sex of a baby and of performing abortions are improving.

Amendment of PNDT

 “An Act to provide for the prohibition of sex selection, before or after conception, and for regulation of pre-natal diagnostic techniques for the purposes of detecting abnormalities or metabolic disorders or chromosomal abnormalities or certain congenital malformations or sex-linked disorders and for the prevention of their misuse for sex determination leading to female foeticide and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Pre-natal diagnostic techniques include all pre-natal diagnostic procedures and pre-natal diagnostic tests.

Doctor’ s unethical practices :  

 Diagnostic teams with ultrasound scanners which detect the sex of a child advertise with catch lines such as “spend 600 rupees now and save 50,000 rupees later”.

The PCPNDT Act 1994 (Preconception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Act) was modified in 2003[11] to target the medical profession  The 'silent observer' device embedded in an ultrasound machine generates a log of all pregnancy tests done over a year. It feeds the personal data of patients and radio images to the main server installed at the district collector's office. The district administration uses this data to verify whether the women who went for ultrasounds continued with their pregnancies or underwent an abortion. The vigil is stricter in the case of women who have a history of delivering girls.

Cehat and Ors. vs. Union of India, AIR 2003,3309:

On 18 August 2006, the Supreme Court of India has issued notices , on a petition by a civil society organisation, Voluntary Health Association of Punjab to the Indian government and the states and union territories on a petition seeking stricter implementation of laws that ban pre-natal sex-selection tests and sex-selective abortions in India. The Supreme Court observed that the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act 1994 (PCPNDT) that is meant to prevent female foeticide in India, has failed.[12]
For effective implementation of the Act,
a) an information should be published by way of advertisements as well as on electronic media. This process should be continued till there is awareness in public that there should not be any discrimination between male and female child

b) Quarterly reports by the appropriate authority, which are submitted to the Supervisory Board should be consolidated and published annually for information of the public at large.
c) Appropriate authorities shall maintain the records of all the meetings of the Advisory Committees.
d) The National Monitoring and Inspection Committee constituted by the Central Government for conducting periodic inspection shall continue to function till the Act is effectively implemented. The reports of this Committee be placed before the Central Supervisory Board and State Supervisory Board for any further action.
e) As provided under Rule 17(3), public would have access to the records maintained by different bodies constituted under the Act.
f) Central Supervisory Board would ensure that the following States appoint the State Supervisory Board as per the requirement of Section 16A. 1. Delhi 2. Himachal Pradesh 3. Tamil Nadu 4. Tripura 5. Uttar Pradesh.  
g) As per requirement of Section 17(3)(a), the Central Supervisory Board would ensure that the following States appoint the multi-member appropriate authorities: 1. Jharkhand 2. Maharashtra 3. Tripura 4. Tamil Nadu 5. Uttar Pradesh.It will be open to the parties to approach this Court in case of any difficulty in implementing the aforesaid directions

Ms. Archana Yadav, judicial magistrate, Ist Class , GURGAON , [Udyog Vihar police stationlimits]convicted five Gurgaon doctors Dr J L Mahajan of Palam Vihar, Dr M S Talekar, Dr D B Lal, Dr P B Lal of Sector 4 and Dr K K Saraswat of New Palam Vihar. All five have been convicted for committing offence under section 23 of Prenatal diagnostic techniques (PNDT) act and ordered rigorous imprisonment of three years with a fine of Rs 1,000 each.[13]

Sex Selection –Internet advertisements:

In response to a petition filed by advocates in Supreme Court of India , Google and Microsoft have pulled ads from their Web sites for gender selection products and techniques considered illegal in the country. In August ,2008, Supreme Court requested that the two companies, Google as well as Yahoo, respond to complaints made by advocates who said ads for products for gender selection, such as do-it-yourself kits, deter their work to end sex-selective abortions in the country.[14]
Steps to improve sex-ratio-challenge to Judiciary:

Ministry of Health & Family Welfare[15] has undertaken training of trainers from State Judicial Academies to train lower judiciary with the objective to sensitize the judiciary on the issue. National Inspection and Monitoring Committee (NIMC) having representatives of Department of Women & Child Development, National Commission for Women, Indian Council for Medical Research as members, undertakes periodical visits to the districts with low child sex ratio (0-6 years) to oversee the implementation of the Act at ground level and monitors the prosecutions launched against unregistered bodies and bodies violating provisions of the Act/rules and directions of the Supreme Court of India in the matter. The National Support and Monitoring Cell is being constituted as a mechanism to help Appropriate authorities in apprehending the wrong doer who are committing female foeticide/abetting female foeticide. District Magistrates have also been requested to regularly review the implementation of the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act along with other health programmes in their district.
Mr. Arvind Kumar, The collector of Hyderabad district [2004-2006]has illustrated the power of the Act. Hyderabad had the lowest child sex ratio (0-6 years) in Andhra Pradesh. After taking over in ,2004 he tracked down all 389 diagnostic clinics in the city and took action. 361 ultrasound scan centres were issued notices for non- compliance with the PNDT Act. Licenses of 91 centres were cancelled. 83 machines were seized and 71 released after an undertaking and fine. Three suppliers were prosecuted for supplying machines to clinics with no registration licenses[16]

According to Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters for the New York Times[17], violence against women is causing gender imbalances in many developing countries. The son- preference , due to customary reasons and fear of dowry  are the main reason for female infanticide in India

  •  There is a need to sensitize general people, police, medical staff, and judiciary for effective implementation of PNDP act.
  •  There is need for vigilant district administration to check the diagnostic centre’s and their fraudulent practices, there is a need to take strict legal action Ultra sound centre’s and erring doctors.
  •  There should be awareness programs against infanticide in rural areas as, there are several instances, which were reported in media, where child killed or aborted.
  •  There are several instances in many, where bride groom are enable to find brides, because of sex-imbalances in the population.

[9] AIR 2003 Mad 389
[10] 96 (2002) DLT 354
[12]  Cehat and Ors. vs. Union of India, AIR 2003,3309,
[18] Indian Penal Code ,1872 ,Bare Act.
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