Maneka Gandhi: Make sex determination mandatory
Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Maneka Gandhi made a pitch to make sex determination tests mandatory for pregnant women in India. The move would require the government to amend the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, which comes under the Health Ministry. She stated that "we have proposed this in front of all parties and ministers" and are awaiting their opinions.
In 1971, abortion was made legal in India when the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act was passed with an aim to reduce illegal abortion. Rampant misuse of the act led to widespread female foeticide in the country, prompting the government to adopt the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act in 1994. The act made determination of the gender of the foetus illegal in India.
A medical practitioner may get an imprisonment for a term that may extend to three years, a fine that may extend up to Rs.10,000 and suspension of medical license for five years. Subsequent violations would invite permanent cancelation of the license. Any person who seeks the aid of professionals to conduct sex determination faces imprisonment for 3 years and a fine up to Rs.50,000.
The population census of 2011 revealed that the sex ratio in India was 940 females per 1000 males. This was an improvement over the ratio of 933 females per 1000 males in the 2001 census.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the "Beti bachao, beti padhao" scheme in Jan'15, in a bid to tackle the country's abysmally low child sex-ratio. The initiative brings together Ministries, institutions and civil societies to increase awareness against female foeticide in the country. It also provides incentives, including one that any village succeeding in attaining a balanced sex ratio will be awarded Rs.1 crore.
Child Sex Ratio is defined as number of girls per 1000 boys between 0-6 years of age. India has one of the lowest CSR in the world which has been declining over the last 25 years from 945 in 1991, 927 in 2001 to 918 in 2011.
The Central government's Beti Bachao scheme is to be expanded to 61 more districts over the present 100. The announcement was made by Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi at the All India Regional Editor's Conference in Jaipur. A review of the scheme revealed that more than 50% of the 100 districts had showed signs of improvement after the plan's implementation.
Maneka Gandhi's plan to make sex determination mandatory, seeks to improve government monitoring on child births in India. By making sex determination mandatory, she seeks to register the child and mother at the time of determination and track the mother throughout the pregnancy phase. She added that by tracking, not only can the government keep illegal abortions in check, but also improve prenatal healthcare.