FEMALE FOETICIDE EQUITY FOUNDATION A Forum for Women and Child 123-A Pataliputra Colony Patna, Bihar E-mail: [email protected] com Website: www. equityasia. net Ph: 0612- 2270171 (o); 09334129755 (Rim) WHERE IS THIS MISS MISSING? WHERE In India, female foeticide – the sex-selective abortion of girls – has led to an alarming “gender gap” in the country’s population.
It is a tragedy that every year, half a million girl children are being killed and prevented from being born In 1990, when the census showed that there were 25 million more males than females in India, the government reacted by introducing a law making it illegal to detect the sex of a foetus through ultrasound examination. Yet by 2001, the gender gap had risen to 35 million, and now experts estimate it as high as 50 million. The 2001 national census had recorded alarming trends in the sex ratio with less than 800 girls for 1000 boys below 6 years in several areas while there were only 929 female adults for 1000 men.
India is losing almost 7,000 girls daily because of the traditional preference for sons which cause many people to abort female foetuses However, recent UN and Indian studies reveal that female foeticide is today most frequent among the rich and highly educated. One study maps the increased frequency of female foeticide with rising levels of education – lowest among women with a fifth-grade education and highest among women with university degrees. A study by British medical journal “The Lancet” said this year hat India may have lost 10 million unborn girls in the past 20 years, but Indian experts say the figure is not more than five million. The national average is 927 — still well below the worldwide average of 1,050 female babies. It is shocking that the declining sex ratio has already led to a situation where brothers shared a wife and in some cases even fathers and sons shared a wife in several parts of the country. This could have serious consequences as the genes would all get mixed up resulting in ill-health and other complications.
Foeticide report: 7 000 fewer girls a day in India Every year, as millions of women marry, they dream of starting a family, of having their homes filled with tiny cries and the happy laughter of gurgling babies. In India however, pregnancy is too often followed by the question of whether the unborn child is a girl or a boy. “Chhore Pe Baje Thali, Chhori Pe Thekere Phoren” is an old sentiment in the Indian state of Haryana which means “announce the birth of a son by beating of brass plates but at the birth of a daughter break earthen pots. ” India is one of the few countries worldwide with an adverse child sex ratio in favor of boys,” the United Nations children’s agency said in its annual “State of the World’s Children 2007” report. Female foeticide still a problem in 21st century India Where we are? Where Reasons for decline in child sex Ratio Ratio Neglect of Female, resulting in higher Mortality at younger ages. younger Female infanticide and Female Feticide Female Factor responsible for Female Feticide Factor Obsession for Son. Obsession Discrimination against the girl child Discrimination Socio-Economic and physical insecurity of women
Socio Evil of dowry Evil Misuse of PNDT Act. Misuse Lack of Awareness about the PNDT Act and its ineffective implementation With development of technology for the pre-natal determination of sex of the child, infanticide has been replaced by female foeticide. What was meant to be a test to detect only genetic abnormalities in a foetus, began to be misused for sex selective abortions. Affluent families can now detect the sex of the foetus and abort it if required, which is an easier alternative. Interestingly, sex ratio of children at birth in urban areas shows a wider gap than rural areas.
Easy availability of diagnostic techniques is one major reason. Today, the sex of a foetus can be determined by more sophisticated machines within 13 to 14 weeks of pregnancy by trans-vaginal sonography and by 14 to 16 weeks through abdominal ultrasound. These methods have rendered sex determination cheap and easy. Sophisticated methods too have hit the market. The Ericsson method which separates the X and Y chromosomes from the sperm and then injects back only the Y chromosome into the womb to ensure a boy, costs Rs15,000 to 20,000.
The Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) helps to determine the sex of even an unrecognizable foetus. Its cost-Rs100,000 per treatment cycle is beyond the common man’s pocket and is a deterrent. A few doctors were honest enough to admit to having performed the tests, defending their action by claiming to have rendered “social justice. ” 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. Out of 71 000 children born every day in India, just 31 000 are girls — giving a sex ratio of 882 girls to 1 000 boys.
But the global sex ratio — which is 954 girls to 1 000 boys — suggests that 38,000 girls should be born in India every day. India tops the list as far as illegal abortion and female foeticide are concerned. Of the 15 million illegal abortions carried out in the world in 1997, India accounted for 4 million, 90% of which were intended to eliminate the girl child There are 25,770 officially registered pre-natal units in India, but one doctor estimates there are as many as 70,000 ultrasound machines operating in the country.
Anyone found guilty of organising an illegal abortion theoretically faces a prison sentence of between three and five years and a fine of 10,000 rupees (? 118). But only two men have been convicted since the law was introduced 12 years ago. Foeticide is performed by trained professionals with licenses and registration numbers; it is a multi-billion rupee industry. ’ The Psychology behind Foeticide, Its Causes and Implications •The main reason why women acquiesce in foeticide, is their own survival. Years of conditioning make women feel that a son is the only way to ensure a appier and secure life. •Many feel that their status in society would increase, as a mother of a son is viewed favourably. •What remains unspoken of, is that they may be replaced by a younger and more fertile woman. •What is never asserted is the woman’s right to her body. A woman felt that her body clock was racing against her greatest desire for a son, as being 42 years of age she had two daughters. “You know how important a son is in the Indian society,” she says. “My husband is the only son in his family and so my in-laws want it as well. ” She has already undergone two abortions.
The last one left her, according to her Doctor , “absolutely deranged and made hospitalisation necessary. ” Much has been written about why Indians want fewer girls. The most obvious reason is that girls have to be married off and that entails huge expense on ceremonies and the dowry. Dowry demands are growing with rise in consumerism. The dowry trap pushes many families into debt. Rural families are forced to sell land, urban poor resort to selling their houses or getting into huge debts. The Hindu Property Act, which was meant to elevate the status of women, only made matters worse.
As per this act, a daughter has an equal share in the property of her parents, even though after marriage she became an integral part of her husband’s family. In order to ensure that hard earned property is not frittered away to a different family, female foeticide was the best course available. Financial Dependence of Females on Husband or In laws:– In India socio-economic background has been the villain behind the tragic female foeticide. Certain communities want to get rid of female child compelled by the circumstances of dehumanizing poverty, unemployment, superstition and illiteracy.
Cultural Factors:- the concept of ‘Vanshodharak’ a male child to perform last rites in Hindus and carry forward Measures to Reduce Female Foeticide Today 130 million children do not go to school, of which 70 percent are girls. In India 300 million adults cannot read or write, of which 200 million are girls. Inferior education lowers a girl’s self esteem, her employment opportunities and therefore her ability to participate in the decision-making process. Ten million female foetuses have been illegally aborted in India by mothers desperate to bear a son. What will become of this nation of ever fewer women?
What will become of this nation of ever fewer women? Steps to counter female feticide Effective implementation of PNDT Act Notification of appropriate authorities in for taking action against culprits Wide spread awareness programmes on importance and value of girl child Cradle baby scheme Financial support insurance scheme to girl child like Involving the Panchayati Raj Institution ‘Until women take control of their own lives and refuse to give in to pressure, nothing will change,’ says Rasil Basu, We will have to recognise the women power ‘Empowerment of women is the only answer. ’ THANK YOU!
References 1. Bharat Jhunjhunwala, “As Women Vanish in Statistics,” Indian Express, October 20, 1998. 2. Leela Visaria, “Deficit of Women in India: Magnitude, Trends, Regional Variations and Determinants,” from Independence Towards Freedom: Indian Women Since 1947, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1999. 3. Christian Medical Journal of India, April-June 1998, citing a report from The Pioneer. 4. Ibid. 5. Source—SAHELI, A Delhi based NGO. 6. Visaria, Op cit. 7. Dr Shanti Ghosh, “Girl Child: A Life of Utter Neglect,” Journal of the Indian Medical Association(IMA), New Delhi, July-September 1999. 8.
Venkatesh Athreya, “Female Infanticide in India: The Challenge of Elimination,” Journal of the IMA, New Delhi, July-September 1999. 9. Dr Sudarshan Vaid & Dr Sharda Jain, “Nipped in the Bud,” Journal of The IMA, New Delhi, July-September 1999. 10. Geeta Athreya, “Girl Child: Strategies for Better Survival and Improved Status,” Journal of The IMA, New Delhi, July-September 1999. 11. Ibid. 12. Ashish Bose, “Demographic Diversity of India, 1991 Census,” D K Publishers, 1 Ansari Road, Darya Ganj, New Delhi, July1991. Pravin & Leela Visaria, Paper on “Demographic Characteristics of India’s Population and its Social Groups,” March 6, 1999.
Christian Medical Journal of India, Op cit. Dr. Sabu George, “Female Infanticide in Tamil Nadu, India: From Recognition Back to Denial? Journal of The IMA, New Delhi, July-September 1999. A Radhakrishnan, S R Alam, D Kapur, “Female Foeticide and its Social Causes,” Journal of the IMA, New Delhi, July-September 1999. Ibid. Ibid. Dr. S Lakshmi Devi, “Education and Economic Self Reliance is the Road to Empowerment of Women,” Journal of The IMA, New Delhi, July-September1999. Ibid. Dr Shaily Jain,”Political Empowerment: Some Hope for Women at Last,” Journal of The IMA, New Delhi, July-September 1999.