Sunday May 14 2006
Gender tests: action sought against 35 doctors
They were guilty of conducting sex determination tests and of female foeticide
Read also: "Female foeticide will be tackled"
WOMEN POWER: Activists of women's organisations, health networks and civil rights groups holding a protest against prevalent sex selection leading to a declining sex ratio in the country [Photo: V. Sudershan, The Hindu Saturday May 20 2006]
JAIPUR: A group of health professionals and activists, taking exception to sex determination tests during pregnancy and female foeticide, registered its protest here on Saturday against the Central and State Governments' failure to take action against 35 doctors in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, found involved in these crimes recently.
The Sahara Samay television news channel had exposed the activities of these doctors in a series of sting operations last month. The health professionals regretted that the guilty doctors had not been booked for violation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994, despite "clinching evidence'' produced against them.
The group of nearly a dozen health activists, led by New Delhi-based Mira Shiva of Voluntary Health Association of India, pointed out at a press conference here that the Government's failure to implement the Act had led to a steep increase in the number of female foeticide cases which in turn had disturbed the sex ratio of population in several States.
In Rajasthan, for instance, the number of girls per 1,000 boys has reduced to 909 against the national average of 927.
Sex selection is prohibited under the law and violation of the provision is punishable under Section 25 of the PC & PNDT Act, with the offence warranting criminal complaint to be filed before the Judicial Magistrate.
The TV channel's sting operations had exposed 18 doctors in Rajasthan and 17 elsewhere.
The concerned health activists told reporters that the District Appropriate Authorities in Rajasthan had only suspended three Government doctors and sealed some of the private clinics.
Women activists had stormed the Swasthya Bhawan here early this month and staged a demonstration before handing over a list of erring doctors to the Appropriate Authority, S.P. Yadav.
They are also planning to organise a huge rally over the issue here on Monday.
Erosion of medical ethics
The health professionals pointed out that female foeticide not only amounted to an erosion of medical ethics and gender violence, but was also a heinous crime under the PC & PNDT Act and the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.