By Amrita U Kadam, Hindustan Times Indore, June 26, 2011 File photo of a group of doctors performing a surgery....
Girls are being 'converted' into boys in Indore - by the hundreds every year - at ages where they cannot give their consent for this life-changing operation.
This shocking, unprecedented trend, catering to the fetish for a son, is unfolding at conservative Indore's well-known clinics and hospitals on children who are 1-5 years old. The process being used to 'produce' a male child from a female is known as genitoplasty. Each surgery costs Rs 1.5 lakh.
Moreover, these children are pumped with hormonal treatment as part of the sex change procedure that may be irreversible.
The low cost of surgery and the relatively easy and unobtrusive way of getting it done in this city attracts parents from Delhi and Mumbai to get their child surgically 'corrected'.
About 7-8% cases come from the metros, say doctors.
While genitoplasty is relatively common - it is used to correct genital abnormality in fully-grown patients - the procedure is allegedly being misused rampantly to promise parents a male child even though they have a female child.
The parents press for these surgeries despite being told by doctors that the 'converted' male would be infertile.
While genitoplasty experts of Indore say each of them have turned 200 to 300 girls into 'boys' so far, only one could cite an instance when a 14-year-old was converted into a girl. Listen to podcast ?
In that case, ironically, medical complications strictly forbade converting the child to a boy. The doctors accept that parents willingly convert girls to boys but opt out of the opposite procedure.
If that's not bad enough, Indian law, which has encountered nothing like this so far, allows these surgeries by its silence and grey areas.
About seven paediatric surgeons from Indore - who are associated with top private and government hospitals - perform these surgeries.
They say these operations are done on children whose internal organs do not match their external genitalia - most commonly, girls born with some internal male organs.
They claim a strict procedure is followed to determine the sex of the newborn, after which the external appearance of the child is changed to match the sex.
There is no system to monitor that claim and is completely open to abuse.
"When the child grows up, he or she would be confused about the gender he or she belongs to. This surgery can stop the child from having sex-determination disorder and psychological problems," said Dr Milind Joshi, a paediatric surgeon who performs the procedure at a city hospital.
A parent whose child underwent such a surgery at the age of two said on the condition of anonymity, "I think my child would not be confused over his gender when he grows up and can live a normal life as he would not have any memories of the surgery."
Another Indore paediatric surgeon performing this procedure, Dr Brijesh Lahoti, said, "In India, there is no problem in performing these surgeries as only the consent from parents and an affidavit is required. These are reconstruction surgeries where sex of the child is determined based on its internal organs and not just on the basis of external genitalia."
With no proper laws to protect rights of the child that young, the practice might have a larger social ramification, say medico-legal experts.
"The surgery can have profound, long-term psychological effects on an individual, who might not accept the gender assigned by parents and doctors before age of consent," said Suchitra Inamdar, a counsellor from Mumbai.
Calling it a highly sensitive issue, Dr Joshi said people should be sensitised about these surgeries. Asked about consent of the child, he said, "In India, consent is sought from parents till the child is 14."
This raises a lot of questions about rights of these children, who might grow up to believe that they wanted to be the way they were born and not corrected surgically.
There have been cases abroad in which such people - who had undergone the procedures at the ages when their consent could not be sought - have grown up and sued the doctors.
"In India, it is a completely virgin area," said medico-legal expert from Mumbai Shirish Deshpande, who is also chairman of the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat.
"The government needs to regulate these operations. They can't be called illegal right now, but if ignored, they can create a major imbalance in the sex ratio and have serious social implications."
The Indian Medical Association has a similar view.
"The Medical Council of India and the health ministry should look into the matter. There has to be some guideline or law on how a child who is barely old enough to talk can undergo a life-changing surgery at the parents' will," said IMA secretary, Indore branch, Dr Anil Bhadoria. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ June 30, 2011
India's 'shocking' child sex-change epidemic
Parents in the world's largest democracy are reportedly paying surgeons $3,200 to turn their young daughters into young sons. What's behind this "social madness"? Indian families typically prefer sons to daughters, partly because sons don't require parents to cough up dowries of up to $100,000. (Keren Su/Corbis)
India is known for preferring sons over daughters, most famously (and troublingly) through the demographics-distorting practice of gender-based selective abortion. Now, hundreds of daughters age 1 to 5 are reportedly being "converted" into boys through a sex-change procedure known as genitoplasty, which involves fashioning a penis out of female sex organs, then pumping the child full of male hormones. This "shocking, unprecedented trend, catering to the fetish for a son," is drawing parents from all over the nation to the central Indian city of Indore, the Hindustan Times reports. Ranjana Kumari, a top campaigner against aborting girls, blames "social madness" and greed. "People don't want to share their property or invest in girls' education or pay dowries," she says. "It's the greedy middle classes running after money." But there's no excuse for forcing your child to have a sex change... right?
Right. This is beyond awful: India obviously takes its gender preference seriously: It has 7 million more boys than girls under age 6, says Meredith Carroll at Babble. But really, "it’s beyond reprehensible to subject babies to something this serious because of financial reasons or social status." And whether a parent aborts the girl or turns her into a mental and physical wreck of a boy, it's "beyond warped" that any willing parent wouldn't just love their child, "whichever flavor comes their way."
"Extreme gender preference: Indian baby girls..." OK, but the money factor isn't insignificant: As awful as these "corrupt doctors" are for re-gendering the girls, it's arguably better than the "not uncommon" blight of female infanticide, says the International Business Times. And when you compare the $3,200 it costs to turn your daughter into a son (of sorts) to the dowries of up to $100,000 that parents have to cough up for their daughter's wedding, "it is not surprising to see girls' parents" opt for the sex-change.
"Indian daughters transform into sons to avoid dowry" There must be a better explanation: The "claim that this is all the fault of the 'greedy middle classes running after money' sounds dubious," says Margaret Hartmann at Jezebel. And there's a grey area for intersex children born with male and female sex organs. But if this "shocking" report is true, and parents really are forcing healthy girls to become sterile boys, that's "an extreme and very disturbing sign of what happens when women are undervalued." ~~~~~~~~~~~~ July 5 2011
Men need to be born, not made in clinics
By Dimple Malik on how Indian doctors may be doing grave harm by genitoplasty
Tim Tim Rose
IF YOU have Rs 1.5 lakh, you can have a male baby without feeling the guilt of female foeticide or infanticide. Guilt-free and tampering with nature, many parents go on to prove their fetish for a male offspring. Perhaps they forget that what they are buying for Rs 1.5 lakh is an infertile male. Presumably the mentality of the parents is such that they are unable to discern or distinguish between the infertile and the impotent. These little girls-turned-boys would grow up, doubtlessly potent but also fatally infertile. They probably have little to worry because infertility, as always, shall be blamed on the woman they end up marrying.
It is, indeed, a shame to read about the 300 little girls who have been subject to genitoplasty or sex change in many clinics and hospitals in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. According to reports, about eight per cent of these little girls are from metros like New Delhi and Mumbai. This trend clearly indicates that urbanisation and education have both not helped the Indian mentality in reducing its obsession for the male child. They are ready to spend any amount of money to ensure that their family name continues, or for whatever reason they may assign to get their fetish fulfilled.
They forget that their little baby is subject to not only painful surgical procedure but also goes through a lengthy hormonal treatment. A treatment that not only transforms the little child and tampers with nature but may also leave psychological scars, as many of such cases are children of the age of five, old enough to have memories.
Article 21 of the Indian Constitution clearly spells the Right to Life and Personal Liberty but it has been severely breached by both the parents and the doctors. The little subjects are not even aware of their rights and have no way of objecting against the evil that they are being subject to. Aged between 1 and 5 years, these girls are used as guinea pigs to fulfil the morbid desires of their parents and to fill the coffers of the doctors.
Also, the law is silent on genitoplasty. Emasculating or castrating someone is illegal under Section 320 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Causing such grievous hurt is punishable by up to seven years in jail and or a fine under Section 325 of the IPC. Under Section 88 of the IPC, an exception is made in case such an action is undertaken in good faith and the person gives consent to suffer that harm. However, in this case, the girls are too young to either give consent and the act is not being done in good faith. In fact, it is an act of the ultimate ulterior motive. Moreover, post-operative sexual and legal status of patients is unclear under Indian laws.
If this is not gruesome enough, then take a look at the recently reported Parli female foeticide case in Beed district of Maharashtra. A local gynaecologist in whose farm a five-month old female foetus was found by the police, purchased 2,790 vials of Vecredil, a medical drug used for abortion. Two more foetuses were discovered near a drain close to the clinic. There are also reports, though unconfirmed, that the female foetuses were being fed to the doctor’s personal dogs at the farmhouse.
IS THERE another evolution in the offing? Is the male species turning into hermaphrodites? Would we no longer need a woman to propagate the human species? Have women been completely relinquished from their role on the earth? A new survey has named India among the top five countries in the world that are considered as most dangerous places for women. The survey, produced by the recently launched TrustLaw website, a product of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, has ranked India fourth primarily due to female foeticide, infanticide and human trafficking, the report noted. Up to 50 million girls are thought to be missing over the past century due to female infanticide and foeticide, the report quoted a United Nation Population Fund study as saying.
It is a shame that the government is spending more time in squabbling with the likes of Baba Ramdev. It is also a shame that the media is giving nonstop coverage to this altercation, instead of taking up a campaign for the girl child. The little pony tail needs to be saved from the suffering and evil she is subject to.
Dimple Malik is Executive Editor of FW, Chandigarh ~~~~~~~~~~~ June 27, 2011 Madhya Pradesh
Call for checks on sex surgeries
Amrita U Kadam, Hindustan Times
As Hindustan Times reported that hundreds of girl children in Indore are being operated on to turn them into boys, the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Madhya Pradesh health department on Sunday recommended measures to ensure that parents hankering for male children don’t exploit such ‘corrective’ surgeries with the help of corrupt doctors.
The procedure, called genitoplasty, is recommended only for those children whose internal organs don’t match their external genitalia (for instance, someone who has male internal organs but female genitals and female hormone).
The MCI has called for the formation of a medical board of experts to decide on the need for such a surgery in every case, and stringent checks in all cities.
"There should be a medical board to decide if the surgery is medically required. It has to be a responsible decision made by a panel and not a decision between a parent and a doctor,” said Prof Gautam Sen, member, board of governors, MCI, and director of surgical education, Association of Surgeons of India (ASI).
The state health department, on its part, has decided to seek documents and records from doctors who conducted such surgeries in Indore.
"There should be a strict procedure such as photographing and videotaping surgeries and giving proper justification for conducting them,” said Dr Sharad Pandit, joint director in the department. He has decided to call a meeting with the ASI’s Indore branch and the Nursing Home Association to discuss the matter.
Dr CP Kothari, president of ASI’s Indore branch, said, “If the health department asks us to furnish the details, we will ask all paediatric surgeons to provide us the information.”
Dr Kothari named the doctors who had performed such surgeries and said they will be asked to furnish details.
They are Dr BR Parikh, Dr Sangram Singh, Dr Milind Joshi, Dr Manish Patel, Dr Brijesh Lahoti, Dr Shashi Shankar Sharma, Dr Mayur Maheswari and Dr Rajneesh Kutumble - Dr Joshi, who had earlier spoken in favour of the surgeries, on Sunday said he had been misquoted.
State health minister Narottam Mishra said, "I have asked for the documents and will also look into the matter." Those who don't need the surgery, said medico-legal expert Shirish Deshpande, should be accepted by society.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has reportedly asked the state government to investigate the matter. Such surgeries on children as young as 1-5 years old are rampant in Indore's clinics and hospitals. The city's genitoplasty experts say each of them have turned 200-300 girls into 'boys' so far. The low cost of surgery (Rs 1.5 lakh), relatively easy and unobtrusive ways of getting it done and vague laws are even attracting parents from Delhi and Mumbai ~~~~~~~~~~ 27 June 2011
Indians pay surgeons to turn girls into boys
Indian doctors have been accused of conducting sex change operations on young girls whose parents want sons to improve the family's income prospects.
There are now seven million more boys than girls aged under six in the country (ALAMY)
By Dean Nelson, New Delhi
Madhya Pradesh state government is investigating claims that up to 300 girls were surgically turned into boys in one city after their parents paid about £2,000 each for the operations.
Women's and children's rights campaigners denounced the practice as a "social madness" that made a "mockery of women in India".
India's gender balance has already been tilted in favour of boys by female foeticide – sex selection abortions - by families who fear the high marriage costs and dowries they may have to pay. There are now seven million more boys than girls aged under six in the country.
Campaigners said the use of surgery meant that girls were no longer safe even after birth.
The row emerged after newspapers disclosed children from throughout India were being operated on by doctors in Indore, Madhya Pradesh.
Doctors confronted in the investigation claimed that girls with genital abnormalities were being sent to the city's clinics to be "surgically corrected" and that only children born with both male and female sexual characteristics were eligible for the procedure. But campaigners said the parents and doctors were misindentifying the children's conditions to turn girls into boys.
The surgery, known as genitoplasty, fashions a penis from female organs, with the child being injected with male hormones to create a boy.
Dr V P Goswami, the president of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics in Indore, described the disclosures as shocking and warned parents that the procedure would leave their child impotent and infertile in adulthood.
"Genitoplasty is possible on a normal baby of both the sexes but later on these organs will not grow with the hormonal influence and this will lead to their infertility as well as their impotency. It is shocking news and we will be looking into it and taking corrective measures," he said. "Parents have to consider the social as well as the psychological impact of such procedures on the child."
India's National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights ordered the Madhya Pradesh government to investigate the claims and produce its findings within 15 days.
Ranjana Kumari, of the Centre for Social Research and one of India's leading campaigners against female foeticide, said the surgical transformation of girls into boys without their informed consent was a sign of India's growing "social madness".
She said she despaired that education had failed to stop the growing rejection of baby girls in India.
"The figures are getting worse. In 2001 there were 886 girls born to every 1,000 boys in Delhi. Today there are only 866. The more educated and rich you are, the more there is killing of girls," she said.
"People don't want to share their property or invest in girls' education or pay dowries. It's the greedy middle classes running after money. It is just so shocking and an outright violation of children's rights."
The government needed to address the problem by stressing the spiritual value a girl or woman brought a household in Hindu culture. "In India we say God resides in that house where there's a woman but that has evaporated because of all this greed. We need to emphasise the spiritual wealth a girl brings to a family, but we also need to support them with financial subsidies and jobs," she added.