India: Govt to shut the stable door after "Female foeticide" has bolted
Saturday May 20 2006
"Female foeticide will be tackled" Special Correspondent
Efforts will be made to give more teeth to Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act: Minister
Mobile ultrasound machines would be banned in five States: Anbumani
Government to consider suggestions for setting up Inter-Ministerial Group
NEW DELHI: In the face of strong criticism from Rajya Sabha members for the steep decline in the child sex ratio owing to female foeticide in the country, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Anbumani Ramadoss assured the House that the issue would be tackled in a "mission mode."
Admitting to the Government being "ashamed" of only one conviction in the last 12 years, the Minister said efforts would be made to give more teeth to the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994. For this a meeting of the monitoring Central Supervisory Board would be held next month. "Non-availability of evidence/witness is the main hindrance in punishing errant doctors," he said.
Calling attention motion
Responding to a calling attention motion on "the rampant female foeticide and the imbalance in sex ratio " moved by BJP member Anusuiya Uikey, Dr. Ramadoss said he shared the concern of the House on the "emotional, social and development issue on which depends the future of the country."
Agreeing with the observation that medical associations were not able to control the medical fraternity, Dr. Ramadoss said the Government would consider removal of doctors from the District Boards and `Appropriate Authority' that investigates cases. He also assured the members of pursuing cases in which there was prima facie evidence against the accused.
The Minister declared that mobile ultrasound machines would be banned in the five States in which the female sex ratio had declined to alarming levels. The Government would also consider the suggestions made by Ramdeo Bhandary (Rashtriya Janata Dal) and Shahid Siddiqui (Samajwadi Party) for setting up an Inter-Ministerial Group for an integrated approach to the problem.
Describing female foeticide as a "national disaster," CPI(M) member Brinda Karat said one of the major reasons was dowry. "The Ministry is ignoring the social consequences such as buying of wives in States such as Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan where the female sex ratio has declined steeply leading to sexual abuse, exploitation and using of women as a commodity."
She drew the attention of the House to the fact that in Delhi alone the sex ratio of 868 females per 1000 males in 2001 had dropped to 813 per 1000 males in 2006. In India, there were 14 districts where the female ratio was below 800 and in 13 districts it was below 850. In most countries the female ratio of 950 to 1000 males would be a "red alert."