Female Foeticide in Rajasthan: Social Issue

Female foeticide is the abortion of a female foetus, after sex determination test, outside of legal methods. Female foeticide has been linked to the arrival, in the early 1990s, of affordable ultrasound technology and its widespread adoption in India. By one of the estimate since 1990, more than 10 million female fetuses may have been illegally aborted in India  and 500,000 girls were being lost annually due to female foeticide.

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Female Foeticide in Rajasthan

Female foeticide is commonly practiced across the Rajasthan and female infanticide is also common especially in districts like Jaisalmer. The archaic social structure has always given preference to males over females in the state. Unit recent times, the state had high maternal mortality rate of 445 per 100,000 live births. The birth of a girl child meant bad news, this was mainly due to the hefty dowry system prevalent in the state.

A countrywide study conducted by Sabu M. George, revealed that the ultrasound machines were luring even the tribal population in the States like Rajasthan. As a result of that a steep decline of over 75 points in sex ratio at birth has been reported during a period from 1991-2001 in urban areas of Ganganagar, Banswara and Sirohi in Rajasthan.

Child-Sex Ratio in Rajasthan

The child sex ratio is an important indicator of discrimination against the girl child, whereas the sex ratio in the entire population is a key indicator of serious societal problems at large, especially gender discrimination over the life cycle of an infant girl, the girl child, the adolescent girl and the woman. Since, for biological reasons, women in all societies live longer than men; the natural expectation is that the share of women in the population will be larger than 50%. However, the child sex ratio (number of females for every 1,000 male children in 0-6 age group) dropped from 954 in 1981 to 888 in 2011.

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Current Update:

Child sex ratio has shown a marked improvement in 2015. According to government figures, the child sex ratio has jumped 37 points in 2015 reaching 925 as against 888 by the 2011 Census in the 0 to 6 age group. However, Female foeticide is still prevalent in border districts of Rajasthan which leads to declining sex ratio. Jaisalmer is still of those districts where number of girls is less compared to boys. Last year, the number was 925, which has fallen drastically to 888 per 1,000 boys in November this year.

Positive beginnings:

  • In 2016, Piplantri village in Rajasthan has taken initiative that encourages empowerment of women and environment conservation simultaneously with planting of 111 trees for every girl child born.
  • Rajasthan, saw the highest impact in terms of implementation, with 634 court cases reported under the act. A total of 137 convictions have taken place in the state till now with 21 medical licences being suspended on account of pre natal sex determination in the state.

Steps taken by Government:

Sections 312-316 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)

  • Sections 312-316 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) deals with miscarriage and death of an unborn child and depending on the severity and intention with which the crime is committed, the penalties range from seven years to life imprisonment for fourteen years and fine.

The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation & Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 – PC&PNDT Act

  • To combat the practice of female foeticide in the country through misuse of technology, done surreptitiously with the active connivance of the service providers and the persons seeking such service, the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act was enacted on September 20, 1994 by the Government of India. The Act was amended in 2003 to improve regulation of technology capable of sex selection and to arrest the decline in the child sex ratio as revealed by the Census 2001 and with effect from 14.02.2003, due to the amendments, the Act is known as the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994.

Beti Bachao  Beti Padhao

  • National campaign “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” was launched in 100 gender critical districts in partnership with the Ministry of Woman and Child Development and the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Mukhyamantri Rajshree Yojna:

  • Government Scheme related to encouragement of birth of girl-child.
  • Previously, shubh laxmi yojna was implemented but government pulled it out and started CM Rajshree Yojna from June 1, 2016.
  • Government will pay 50,000 rupees in installment for education of girl child born in government hospitals and registered hospitals.

Daughters are precious campaign

Laado Chaupal

  • ‘Laado Chaupal’s’ are organised in state to lay emphasis on the strict implementation of the drive to check foetus sex determination tests in order to improve the declining child sex ratio in Rajasthan.

 

Female foeticide: What is to be done:

Improve conviction rate in PC&PNDT Act

  • During 1991 to 2011, a total of 25.5 million girls i.e. 1.3 million girls per year went missing primarily because of the sex selection.
  • But only 2,021 court and police cases were filed from 1994 to 2014 under the PC&PNDT Act, which implies that on an average only 1 (one) court case was filed approximately for 12,614 cases of sex selection.
  • Further, as conviction was secured only in 206 cases during 1994-2014, it also implies that only 1 (one) conviction was secured per 1,23,755 cases of sex selection.
  • Rajasthan government had setup separate fast-track court for cases related to sex selection and other offences under the PCPNDT Act 1994 but conviction rate has only 137.

Establish Central Authority

  • Establish a Central nodal agency to combat female foeticide under the joint collaboration of Ministry of Women and Child Development and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare by bringing increased accountability of the Appropriate Authorities of the PC&PNDT Act.

Increase Awareness and sensitization

  • There is a need to empower women and educate them and also to create awareness and sensitization amongst population.
  • The National Commission for Women and State Women Commissions could be given a proactive role to launch campaign against sex-selection in a concerted manner, to create awareness among the medical fraternity, society and the public.
  • Focus on Districts/Blocks/Villages with low Child Sex Ratio to ascertain the causes, plan appropriate Behaviour Change Communication campaigns