Gender Justice – Despite skewed sex ratio, conviction under PCPNDT Act rare


SMILEGIRL1

Despite India’s declining child sex ratio, as many as 30 states and union territories have not convicted even a single person for pre-conception and pre-natal diagnostic between 2011 and 2013, raising concerns about the poor implementation of the PCPNDT Act.

The five states which have worst child sex ratio (CSR) – Daman and Diu (618 girls per 1,000 boys), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (775), Chandigarh (818), Delhi (866) and Andaman and Nicobar Islands (878) – have also not punished anyone during the period.

The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 was enacted to stop female foeticide and arrest the declining sex ratio by banning pre-natal sex determination.

Child sex ratio in India has reached an alarming low with 918 girls per 1,000 boys in 2011 from 927 in 2001, but not much seems to have been done to ensure strict implementation of the Act to deter female foeticide.

According to data available with the Health Ministry, only 32 people have been punished in the whole country as against 563 cases reported for conducting sex determination tests between 2011 and 2013.

The data shows that only four states convicted 13 people in 2013.

In 2012, eight persons were punished by three states and in 2011, 11 people by four states.

Punjab, which has one of the lowest CSR with 895 girls to 1,000 boys, has convicted only two persons in the period while it reported 52 such cases.

Haryana with 879 CSR registered 54 cases under the Act but no conviction took place.

Similarly, Delhi registered 10 cases but could not manage to punish anyone.

The phenomenon has spread to areas which were not known for disparity in CSR including tribal areas and eastern states, said a Women and Child Development Ministry official.

The trend was particularly acute in more developed areas of the country including metropolitan cities.

Non-implementation of the Act has been the biggest failing of the campaign against sex selection, the officialsaid.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/despite-skewed-sex-ratio-conviction-for-female-foeticide-rare-115051000106_1.html

Pune – ‘IVF ad for male child’ illegal under PCPNDT Act


‘IVF ad for male child’
Indira IVF centre in Viman Nagar has claimed the advert was not intentional (PICS: DHANANJAY HELWADE)
Activist serves legal notice to civil surgeon, PMC alleging fertility clinic promises baby ‘Krishna’ for all.

A private fertility clinic has been caught on the wrong side of law after its bid for publicity was alleged to be a promotion to beget a male child. An activist has sent a legal notice to the district civil surgeon of Ahmednagar as well as the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), urging them to take action against Indira IVF centre at Viman Nagar for putting gender specific words in an advertisement for their camp in Ahmednagar.

Ganesh Borhade, who sent the notice three to four days ago, informed Mirror, “The advertisement says ‘Nisantaata Bharat Chhodo’ (Childlessness Leave India). It’s a campaign for every house to have Lord Krishna playing in the yard. Here, they could have used a gender neutral word. However, these words point at a male child. This is in contravention of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act.” For a case that falls under this Act, one can only approach the appropriate authority — a legal designation under the PCPNDT Act — in this case, the district civil surgeon to take suitable action. The reason Borhade sent a notice to PMC as well was because the IVF centre was under the civic body’s jurisdiction.

The advertisement had appeared in a prominent local daily in Ahmednagar on May 20. Subsequently, Borhade had sent a text message to the contact number provided. In reply, he was asked to visit Hotel Farhat on May 23 (last Saturday), where an appointment had been fixed for him in the morning. He, of course, didn’t pursue the appointment anymore.

Pointing to a general trend followed by clinics offering sex determination services, Borhade said, “They don’t inform you directly whether it’s a girl or a boy. They generally have male and female deities on either side of the wall. If it’s a girl child, they look upon the wall with the female god and pray and, in case of a male child, they pray to the male god. Such sign language is also prohibited by the PCPNDT Act.”

He has alleged that the IVF centre is covertly suggesting that it will help people to conceive a male child. “Why use the word Lord Krishna? Why not any other female goddess or, for that matter, just the word child?

This is leading people to believe that the clinic specialises in male children,” he stressed, adding that the authorities should have acted on their own accord, rather than wait for a legal notice.

When Mirror contacted the Ahmednagar civil surgeon, Dr S M Sonawane, he said, “I will immediately call for a copy of the newspaper and accordingly ask the state appropriate authority to take action. We will also give suitable replies to the legal notice.” On the other hand, PMC’s appropriate authority, Dr Vaishali Jadhav, informed, “We have sought an opinion from experts on this and will take action accordingly.”

However, Indira IVF centre insisted that the advert was a clear case of oversight, stressing that nothing was intentional. “We have strict norms when it comes to the PCPNDT Act. We support the Beti Bachao Andolan. Everywhere in the centre, and even on our letterhead, we have written that we do not practise prenatal sex determination here. We are originally based in Udaipur, so we think in Hindi. We did not think it would mean something like this when we wrote the ad. It was not our intention either,” said Nitiz Murdia, the clinic’s marketing head.

Modi’s shaky race to save India’s girls 


  • beti

Amritsar, May 23 (IANS/IndiaSpend) It’s a substantial but sparse two-room house, and flies infest the courtyard, buzzing ceaselessly around Manseerat Gill, 14 days old. Undisturbed by their buzzing, she sleeps peacefully.

For the next six years — thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s determination to fight the country’s bias against daughters — Manseerat’s well-being and survival will be the responsibility of a six-foot-tall man with piercing eyes and a full, flowing grey beard.

Ranjit Singh Buttar is a rare male gynaecologist here in this holy Sikh city, and as district health officer, he has many other tasks, including running rural health centres, delivering contraceptives and ensuring polio inoculations to every new born.

Amritsar is one of 100 Indian “gender-critical” districts — 10 are in Punjab, among India’s five richest states by per capita income — included in Modi’s “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (Save a daughter, educate a daughter)” programme, launched in January to fight the nation’s deep-rooted bias against daughters.

A poster for the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign is outside the District Commissioner’s office in Amritsar.

“The discrimination against girls is an illness, an illness of the heart, which leads us to think sons are more important,” said Modi at the launch. “Even in feeding, a mother adds ghee to a son’s ‘khichri’ but will deny this to a daughter.”

Modi is not the first prime minister to realise that is losing girls. While the 1990s saw three such programmes, since 2005 there have been 11 schemes, one following the other, to ensure that more girls — discriminated against at birth and in upbringing — are born, live, go to school and do not marry early.

Yet, the girls continue to disappear. About 2,000 girls die — aborted or starved, poisoned or otherwise killed after birth — every day in India, according to Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, who provided this data in April. The estimates of women so missing range from two million to 25 million.

Gandhi said Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao — which, among other things, seeks to eliminate gender-based foeticide and ensure survival of the girl child — was already showing surprising results.

“Hundreds of girl children are being thrown into orphanages in these 100 districts,” she told NDTV in an interview. “I was in Amritsar and the DC (Deputy commissioner) told me they had received 89 girls this month. I thought this is a weird statistic.”

It is. The minister got things wrong, INDIASPEND’s reporting indicates. The 82 girls she cites were abandoned in Amritsar not since January but since 2008, not as an impact of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ but as a general malaise of giving up daughters.

What Amritsar did since 2008 was to collect these abandoned children as part of a “Pangura” (cradle in Punjabi) programme, housed in an International Red Cross building. Parents can leave children at a cradle here, instead of on the road or in fields. When a child arrives, a bell alerts staff, who place it in a hospital and later with adoption agencies.

Pangura, which has a physical cradle placed in the International Red Cross building, has collected 82 abandoned girls in Amritsar since 2008.

Pangura received 92 children since 2008, 82 of them girls. The scheme is a reasonable success, but 82 girls saved over seven years will not impact skewed gender ratios. Besides, experts said abandoning daughters is no better than killing them.

PM Modi’s “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” programme appears to focus on changing mindsets. Its first step is to spread awareness: Mobile vans and material have reached districts.

What has not reached districts is money.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley set aside Rs.100 crore for ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ in the 2015-16 budget. Each district in the hundred gender-critical districts will get Rs.55 lakh for 2014-15, followed by Rs.31 lakh in 2015-16.

Buttar’s office is yet to get the first tranche of funds, two months after Jaitley’s announcement. Minister Gandhi’s office did not respond to INDIASPEND’s interview request.

If Modi’s programme has to impact pint-sized Manseerat, money, while important, is not the only factor. The effort, as past experience shows, cannot be piece-meal, split by bureaucracy, confused and uncoordinated.

India’s political history is littered with programmes to protect girls such as Manseerat. Dhanalakshmi. Bhagyalakshmi. Rajalakshmi. Ladli. Balri Rakshak Yojana. Indira Gandhi Balika Suraksha Yogana. Balika Samridhi Yojana. Beti Hai Anmol. Mukhya Mantri Kanya Suraksha Yojana. Mukhya Mantri Kanyadan Scheme. Most have been of limited or no efficacy, hobbled by a rigid array of conditions and uncertainties about why they have not worked.

“(Our) findings point to the need to simplify the eligibility criteria and conditionalities, and also the procedures of registration under each of these schemes,” noted a United Nations Population Fund study.

“Though year after year substantial financial resources have been directed towards promoting these schemes, there is a lack of field-level monitoring. In the absence of a proper grievance-redressal mechanism, the challenges often multiply. In some states, the lack of coordination across different sectors such as health, education and social welfare is adversely affecting programme implementation.”

Implementing officers complained that other departments did not cooperate with them. In some states, tardy coordination between financial institutions, such as banks and insurance companies, and implementing departments delayed bonds, certificates and bank accounts. In most schemes, the involvement of local village institutions, NGOs and women’s groups was “rather limited”, as the study noted.

The Ministry of Social Welfare has been the nodal ministry for some schemes. State governments run parallel programmes they can tom-tom at election time. The “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” programme, managed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, will be implemented through deputy commissioners and top bureaucrats in each district.

“The effort is fragmented. You need one entity that is then also responsible for results,” said Buttar, whose office has written a plan for the scheme’s implementation covering Amritsar district’s 15 towns and 739 villages, home to 2.5 million people, 8.9 percent of Punjab’s population.

In Punjab, fewer than 850 girls survive to reach the age of six, 68 less than India’s already poor average of 918 daughters to a 1,000 sons. Neighbouring Haryana has 12 districts in the programme. Maharashtra matches Punjab with 10 districts, where fewer girls are allowed to be born or survive compared to India’s average.

What Modi is up against is people’s desire for a male heir. “How can you expect daughters-in-law if you don’t have daughters?” Modi said at the public gathering on the launch of his scheme in Panipat, Haryana.

Not only do disappearing girls take a toll in terms of fewer number of brides and trafficking of women, India loses workforce talent and diversity. For instance, economists have struggled to explain the fall in women in India’s workforce — contrary to global trends — over the 2000s, despite a rise in industrialisation and prosperity.

“Labour participation, same emoluments for same work, nutritional standards–they paint a grim picture,” said Krishna Kumar, a Delhi University professor who has researched discrimination against girls.

Government programmes, he said, are populist but cannot trigger social change.

In Nangli village in Amritsar, Manseerat’s mother, Pinky, fresh-faced and 23, looks too young to have had two children. Both are daughters.

Pinky, 23, looks too young to have two children. Since both are girls, she might try to conceive again in the hope of having a son and “completing the family”.

Thanks to the presence of a trained health worker under the Rural Health Mission run by Buttar’s office, Manseerat was born in a hospital and not at home. She will also be innoculated. Her family of nine — sister, parents, grandparents, three unmarried uncles — live on a monthly income of Rs 15,000.

Pinky, who uses one name, has a ready laugh but it is clear she is disappointed with Manseerat.

“Could have been a son,” she said. “Her father says a son will complete the family.” Pinky’s conversation with her mother-in-law indicated she would give motherhood another shot–in hope of a son.

It is this desire for a male heir that Buttar’s office is up against.

Buttar, whose office keeps a record of gender ratios in Amritsar, said: “I am an eternal optimist; no effort goes waste.”

The optimism, in many ways mirroring Modi’s, will go only so far. To begin with, programmes for the girl child need to be brought under one roof, those involved in the programme said. The implementing department or ministry should have money, manpower and jurisdiction to use the carrot and stick: give incentives to have girls, hold awareness drives to change mindsets and prosecute under the law that criminalises female foeticide.

If the office of district family welfare officer is to be given the key responsibility for Modi’s mission, then that office needs to be rid of diverse tasks, such as running rural health clinics, distributing contraceptives and family planning programmes.

Amritsar’s district family welfare office, headed by Ranjit Singh Buttar. It is already overstretched, serving a population of 2.5 million across 15 towns and 739 villages.

Over two years, 2011-2013, no more than 32 people were punished under the law that criminalises pre-birth gender testing; gender-testing cases reported stood at 563, according to the Press Trust of India. Thirty states have not had even one conviction under this law, noted the Supreme Court of India.

Outside Buttar’s cabin, junior officer Tripta Sharma explained how she successfully played a decoy pregnant woman. She was sent to an ultra-sound clinic that was alleged to have violated the law by offering gender tests. The police made an arrest. But eight court appearances over a year and a half exhausted Sharma. The court dismissed the case.

“We are doctors, not lawyers,” said Buttar, who said his office would appeal the acquittal. He frequently raids ultrasound clinics, checking a third of them by rotation. With reluctant decoys, all his office has by way of checks on doctors and clinics is a document called “Form F”, on which clinics must declare the purpose of the pre-birth test and the doctor-in-charge.

Academic research on female foeticide — research which is dated by now, as foeticide peaked during the 2000s and then dropped off – -has discouraging findings. Female foeticide increases with easy access to medical facilities, ability to pay doctors and the availability of good roads, which cut down travel time, according to demographer Ashish Bose in his book-sex-selective Abortion in India, based on fieldwork in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

In short, progress means more girls could die. Modi’s programme could mean a lot to Manseerat’s future–but not in its current form.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/modi-s-shaky-race-to-save-india-s-girls-special-to-ians-115052300256_1.html

 

Eight wards shame Mumbai with skewed sex ratio at birth


Child sex ratio in India

 

 

By | Feb 20, 2013, 06.57 AM IST

 

MUMBAI: While the civic administration’s statistics show that the sex ratio at birth for Mumbai has improved slightly in the last one year, experts are not too impressed. They say that the administration has to sustain such results over a decade before there is any significant change in the city’s or even India‘s skewed sex ratio.

 

A senior civic official, however, insisted that any increase, however small, is a step in the right direction.

Both Maharashtra and Mumbai, in particular, have shown an anti-girl bias in the last two census.

Civic figures show that the sex ratio at birth – the number of girls born per 1,000 boys – for 2012 was 922:1,000, up from 917 in 2011. But a closer look at the ward-wise break-up shows that eight wards have registered a dip in sex ratio at birth.

In south Mumbai’s Pydhonie area, for instance, only 860 girls were born for every 1,000 boys last year.

In 2011, the locality was placed better at 981 girls per 1,000 boys. In fact, the Pydhonie-Byculla-Parel belt of the island city, the prosperous Goregaon-Malad-Kandivli belt of the western suburbs and the populous belt from Bhandup to Ghatkopar in the eastern suburbs have all shown a dip in sex ratio at birth.

A L Sharada from the NGO, Population First, said it would be premature to think that such marginal increase is of any significance. She added that easy access to medical tools such as ultrasound machines, which can illegally be used to find the sex of the unborn child, was responsible for the skewed sex ratio.

“The cost of living in Mumbai is high. People want small families and still have a great desire for a male child. This is true in both the slums as well as non-slum pockets of the city,” she said.

Sharada added that the BMC should now study why certain areas, such as Parel in south central Mumbai, have consistently registered a lower-than-city-average sex ratio.

Her NGO had earlier conducted a survey to underline poor adherence among ultrasound clinics of the rules laid down under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act.

“Until there is stringent conviction for offenders and better gender sensitivity among the population, the problem of skewed sex ratio at birth cannot be solved,” said Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Forum Against Sex Selection.

 

 

 

 

Sex Selection -Illegal ads on #Google in contravention PCPNDT ACT


To

Corporate communication

Google, India

2 November 2012

Complaint—Regarding illegal ads on Google in contravention PCPNDT ACT

The Pre-Conception Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act has banned the promotion or advertisement of services that allows one to choose the sex of one’s baby. Yet, Google is carrying advertisements of  the link of IVF that leads to websites that offer these services. Each time a person clicks on the ad, these companies makes money.

The Indian law against sex selection is comprehensive.   Section 22 defines advertisement and Section 26 states the penalties for violation by Companies.  They are given below:

Section 22:  Prohibition of advertisement relating to pre-natal determination of sex and punishment for contravention.

1.    No person, organization, Genetic Counseling Centre, Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic, including clinic, laboratory or centre having ultrasound machine or imaging machine or scanner or any other technology capable of undertaking determination of sex of foetus or sex selection shall issue, publish, distribute, communicate or cause to be issued, published, distributed or communicated any advertisement, in any form, including Internet, regarding facilities of pre-natal determination of sex or sex selection before conception available at such centre, laboratory, clinic or at any other place.
2.    No person or organization including Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic shall issue, publish, distribute, communicate or cause to be issued, published, distributed or communicated any advertisement in any manner regarding pre-natal determination or preconception selection of sex by any means whatsoever, scientific or otherwise.
3.    Any person who contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees.

Explanation.—For the purposes of this section, “advertisement” includes any notice, circular, label, wrapper or any other document including advertisement through Internet or any other media in electronic or print form and also includes any visible representation made by means of any hoarding, wall-painting, signal, light, sound, smoke or gas.

26. Offences by companies.

(1) Where any offence, punishable under this Act has been committed  by a company, every person who, at the time the offence was committed was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly: Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall render any such person liable to any punishment, if he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he had exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence. (2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where any offence punishable under this Act has been committed by a company and it is proved that the offence has been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company, such director, manager, secretary or other officer shall also be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly. Explanation.–For the purposes of this section,– (a) “company” means anybody corporate and includes a firm or other association of individuals, and

(b) “director”, in relation to a firm, means a partner in the firm.

The Indian Parliament enacted a special law because the medical community was not self-regulating these serious violations of medical ethics. The practice of sex selection is prohibited while foetal sex determination is regulated.

The PCPNDT Act applies to advertisements and content that advertises sex selection or foetal sex determination  methods/procedures/techniques.  Any form of advertising in India that promotes techniques, products or procedures of sex selection, sex determination is a violation of the law.

In 2008, theSupreme Court of India had served notices to you,  yet  violations of the law continue with impunity and  in response Google had issued a statement saying  “The Google advertising program is managed by a set of policies which we develop based on several factors, including legal requirements and user experience. In India, we do not allow ads for the promotion of prenatal gender determination or preconception sex selection. We take local laws extremely seriously and will review the petition carefully.”

But once again sex selection ads are mushrooming in your search engine in India  and the   continued violation in the Indian Internet space by  your company is  shocking.

Although the google policy when you click here http://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=176072

India

Product Allowed? Details
Dowryrequests  Not allowed Google doesn’t allow ads or landing pages that promote dowry requests or the offering or sale of dowry. “Dowry” means any property or valuable security given by the bride to the groom for marriage.
Doctor, lawyer, or accountant services  Not allowed Google doesn’t allow ads for services offered by doctors, lawyers, or accountants.
Gender or sex selection  Not allowed Google doesn’t allow ads or landing pages that promote the pre-natal determination of the gender of a child, or pre-conception selection of sex.
Infant food, milk substitutes, feeding bottles  Not allowed Google doesn’t allow ads or landing pages that promote or encourage the use of infant food, milk substitutes, or feeding bottles.

When  you  search of gender selection or sex selection on your search engine  you  get a sponsored ad

wherein you can also order the gender selection kit online

I demand you immediately remove gender /sex selection ads from google search engine in India

Adv Kamayani Bali Mahabal, for Forum against Sex Selection (FASS) Mumbai

cc 1) Director, PNDT Division, New Delhi

2) Cybercrime cell, Mumbai

 

FASS protests Maharashtra govt’s plans to slap murder charges for sex selection


We, the undersigned women’s organizations, strongly protest the statement made by the Health Minister, Mr Suresh Shetty who wants to recommend to the Central Government the application of section 302 (murder charges) against woman, husband, relatives and the doctors for cases of “sex selection”.

According to the PCPNDT Act, sex selection (the correct legal term) itself is a crime and the doctors involved should be punished as per the provisions under the act. The pregnant woman on whom sex selection is performed or undertaken is not an offender according to the act. This should be upheld in Maharashtra.

We have always demanded the continuous and strict monitoring of sonography centers, hospitals and nursing homes and strict action against all unlicensed centers. Instead of concentrating on this issue and doctors who misuse medical technology, the discussion in the assembly focused on abortions. According to the MTP Act, abortions are a women’s right. We fear that applying section 302 (IPC) would curtail women’s access to safe abortion services.

We demand that the law deals strictly with those who perform the crime of sex selection. The political protection to erring doctors is a serious problem in Maharashtra and the government should take steps to put an end to political interference in implementation of PCPNDT Act.

AIDWA
Akshara
Committed Communities Development Trust Population First
Population first
Stree Mukti Sanghthana

Savitribai Phule Gender Resource Centre
Forum Against Sex Selection

FASS submits Memorandum to the CM Maharashtra regarding actions on sex selection


contact–fassindia2011@gmail.com

 

 

7th  June, 2012

To,
Honourable  Shri. Prithviraj Chavan,

Chief Minister ,Maharashtra  State

Mantralay Mumbai
Subject : Appropriate actions about sex selection.

Respected Sir,

Forum against Sex Selection (FASS) is a network with over 50  Ngo’s and individual members . FASS has conducted interactive workshops to discuss its perspective and plan strategies to take the FASS campaign forward and to understand challenges to implementing the PCPNDT Act. Apart from improving the sex ratio, the main thrust of the FASS campaign is to strengthen the overall position of women in our State and to enable women to live with dignity, in a non-discriminatory environment.

We appreciate your efforts to stop the violations of PCPNDT Act and the brazenness of the doctors conducting sex determination tests and subsequent illegal abortions.

We are deeply concerned & apprehensive of the dwindling sex ratio all over Maharashtra and demand serious attention of the Government in protecting the girl child and all the women related health issues.

As you are aware  the women’s organizations have been trying to draw your attention  to female feticide practices in various districts of Maharashtra, in some districts such as Beed, Parbhani, Kolhapur etc. the sex selection  has reached to disproportionate  heights resulting in alarming discrimination of the girl child. In the light of the heinous crimes being committed against women and the girl child we make following demands and suggestions and request you to give priority to this issue.

a ) We demand that utmost care be taken to implement the PCPNDT Act & punish the guilty persons causing, committing , assisting  ins ex selection  ; however care should be taken to not punish the victim women.

b ) The Government must carefully examine the registration of  sonography machines and the records thereof. The doctors or the hospitals or clinics violating the provisions  of PCPNDT act be brought to the Book &  due legal action be taken immediately.

c ) The medical shops be directed to not to sell drugs & injections related to abortions & contraception without prescription of authorized doctors.

d) Immediate action against erring be taken. The  doctors and clinics whose sonography  machines are once sealed may not be allowed to use the same till their cases are over.

e ) More facilities be made available in Govt. and municipal hospitals for pregnant women including  sonography,  contraceptives, abortions and other medical issues.

f ) The women activists and organizations committed to the cause of prevention of sex selection and reproductive  rights of women be included in the committees under PCPNDT Act.

g ) We demand that under no circumstances the right to abortion as stipulated in the MTP Act be curtailed.

h ) We draw your attention to the recent  directive issued by State Chief Secretary Jayantkumar Banthia dated 4 June 2012 to curb sex selection cases. We demand that proper discussion be made with women activists and organizations before implementing the same.

I) Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1972. Safe abortion within the provisions of the MTP Act is the right of every woman. Access to safe abortion services has remained a challenge in India. An estimated 6.7 million abortions per year are performed in institutions not recognized by the government  India continues to have among the highest maternal mortality rates in the world (254 per 100,000 live births per year). Up to 13% of these are caused by unsafe abortions, which is the third leading cause of maternal deaths

j ) There is also a need to monitor the functioning of Appropriate Authorities and ensure their proper functioning in coordination with  the women organizations working on the issue of gender discrimination.

Limiting access to safe abortion methods only pushes women towards unsafe methods, thereby endangering their health and survival. Monitoring women buying pills from pharmacies is regressive as it undermines the confidentiality aspect of abortion and can lead to harassment of women at the hands of officials. Such regulations are discriminatory and curtail autonomy of women over their own body, right to dignity and right to benefit from advances of science, medicine and technology.

Sex selection is  a phenomenon which emerges from gender discrimination and socio-economic bias. All efforts to prevent  sex selection must seek to address issues of gender discrimination, but not further constrain women’s access to safe abortion services.

We urge the  Government to focus on better implementation of the PCPNDT Act with diligent monitoring and supervision of technologies that have the potential to be misused.

We hope you will pay attention to those very urgent  demands & take appropriate steps.
Yours sincerely,

ForumAgainst Sex Selection (FASS), Mumbai
Core Group members

Dr. Kamakshi Bhate, Savitribai Phule GenderResource Centre (SPGRC)
Dr. A.L. Sharada, Population First
Dr. Nandita Shah, Akshara
Jyoti Mhapsekar, Stree Mukti Sanghatana
Adv Kamayani  Bali Mahabal,  Human Rights  Lawyer and  Activist
Lakshmi Menon, Women Networking
Pramod Nigudkar, Committed Communities Development Trust (CCDT)
Sneha Khandekar, SPGRC
Vaijayanti Bagwe, CCDT

Copy to :

Shri. Suresh Shetty
Honorable Minister of Public Health and
Family Welfare
Maharashtra State Government, Mumbai.

Sex determination tests happen not only in India but also in West with sizable Indian population


English: Young women looking at the Bay of Ben...

English: Young women looking at the Bay of Bengal at Puducherry, India Français : Jeunes femmes regardant le golfe du Bengale à Pondichéry, Inde (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3 JUN, 2012, SAIRA KURUP,TNN

In mid-April, a reproductive clinic’s ad appeared in a newspaper for the Indo-Canadian community in British Columbia, inviting readers to “create the family you want, boy or girl, for family balancing” with the help of pre-conception sex selection. The two children in the ad wore ethnic Indian clothes.

The newspaper withdrew the ad following public outrage, while the clinic was accused of targeting cultural attitudes that perpetuate discrimination against girls. But the writing was on the wall.

For long, sex selection has been an  issue identified with countries like India and China where the usual rationales given include dowry, patriliny (descent or inheritance by the male line), one-child policy or dependence on kids’ support in old age. But now, studies in Canada, Norway, US and UK show the persistence of this cultural attitude within the diaspora too.

Dr Shiv Pande, a Liverpool-based general practitioner and a former treasurer of the General Medical Council in Britain, says: “As they say, Indians, wherever they go, carry their curry, customs and cultural baggage. Sex selection of the foetus is quite common among British Indians, though not known widely.”

In 2007, two Oxford academics, Sylvie Dubuc and David Coleman, carried out a study of the sex ratio, using the annual birth registrations in England and Wales between 1969 and 2005, and found that there was “indirect quantitative evidence of prenatal sex selection against females performed by a small minority of India-born women in England and Wales”. Interestingly, the study found no such evidence regarding Pakistan-born and Bangladesh-born women living in England and Wales.

Says Sylvie, “Based on numbers from my previous work, I estimated the number of missing baby girls for the period 1990-2005 to be about 1500. Note that these figures relate to immigrant (i.e. India-born ) women only (and not UK-born women of Indian origin).”

In February 2012, an investigation by the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper discovered that some clinics were prepared to carry out such abortions with few, if any, questions asked. Likewise, the British Columbia newspaper ad came just days after a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAG) analyzed 766,688 births in Ontario and found mothers born in South Korea and India were more likely to have boys for their second child.

When it came to having a third child, the male-to-female ratio grew even more skewed for India-born mothers, who had 136 boys for every 100 girls (the world average ratio is 105:100).

Lead researcher of the study and scientist at St Michael’s hospital in Toronto, Joel G Ray, says, “Women from India and South Korea who had previous children were significantly more likely to give birth to males. For India-born women with more than one prior child, the male-female ratios were even more pronounced.”
Ray, however, cautions that “we (or anyone else) do not have direct evidence this is due to foetal sex selection.” But Mahvish Parvez of the Indo-Canadian Women’s Association in Edmonton, says, “There is a strong suggestion that the skewed ratio is due to sex-selective abortion. We know that son preference strongly persists in immigrant communities.”

 

Many western nations have banned sex selection for non-medical purposes – the US is a notable exception. It is a profitable business there, with gender determination technologies easily available, both online and offline, and clients flying in from the UK, Australia and probably India too.

In 2006, two professors from Columbia University, Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund, examined the year 2000 US Census data and found that while more boys than girls are born by a ratio of 1.05 to 1 among families of Chinese, Korean and Indian descent, the ratio increased if the first child was a girl. If the first two children are girls, the ratio was 50% greater in favour of boys.

It’s no surprise to community activists. Maneesha Kelkar, women’s rights activist and former executive director of Manavi, a New Jersey-based organization, remembers taking a call from a woman who said she was sitting on the operating table in an abortion clinic and was being forced to have an abortion.

“She didn’t tell me if the foetus was a girl, or why she was being told to have the abortion. When I asked what was preventing her from walking out, she said, ‘My in-laws are in the waiting room’ .”

Following such alarming reports of immigrant cultural behaviour, US Congressman Trent Franks had introduced a bill to ban sex-selective abortions (the Congress rejected it on Thursday). Kelkar feels the language around the Bill was “extremely anti-immigrant, anti-women”.

It “was going to target the immigrant community and add to the already anti-immigrant feeling in the US. It is unlikely to prevent Indian families from aborting female foetuses. You cannot legislate away a social issue.”

The negative publicity for the Indian community is one reason why some researchers caution against jumping the gun. Prabhat Jha, founding director of the Centre for Global Health Research, Toronto, says, “We need more evidence to confirm what is a suggestive pattern.

The Ontario estimates suggested selective abortion is still uncommon – about 1% of all births to South Asian-born women. Even in India, selective abortion is about 2% of all births. We need to be careful about stigma – do we want the 99% of South Asian families who don’t chose selective abortion in Ontario (if true, and that is not certain) to have a label as such?” He also warns that “we need to be very careful about putting any barriers that prevent women, especially newly migrant women who have low use of health care, from accessing good technologies (like ultrasound).”

The problem is that many immigrants live within their own social enclaves and may face the same social pressures as they would in India. Kelkar says, “I have heard so many women say, “Let my first child be a boy, then I won’t worry about the next.” It’s all about undervaluing the girl child, whether it is Surat, Southall or San Francisco.

(With inputs from Vrushali Haldipur in New York and Ashis Ray in London)

India – Alarm over sex ratio failing to improve


NEW DELHI: There is cause for concern as Delhi’s sex ratio remains low with the civil registration data putting it down at 896 females per 1000 males in 2014. This is just one point up from the 2013 sex ratio status. The data only underlines the urgency required for the Delhi government to focus deeply on implementation of the provisions of Pre Conception Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act to prevent illegal sex determination and female foeticide.

The data was released as part of the annual report on registration of births and deaths in Delhi in 2014 by deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday. A crackdown on clinics illegally carrying out sex determination and executing abortions is the need of the hour, say experts working on gender and women rights.

The sex ratio was merely 809:1000 in 2001 and showed a gradual rise to 848:1000 in 2007. There was a dramatic improvement in 2008 at 1004 females per 1000 males. This was attributed to the implementation of the Ladli scheme for girls that year. The sex ratio, however, again saw a decline but was still high at 915:1000 in 2009. But the decline continued next year when it touched 901:1000 and then went further down to 893:1000 in 2011 and 886:1000 in 2012. In 2013 there was some improvement with the ratio up nine points at 895:1000. In 2014 it moved up only by one point.

The national conference of chief registrars (births & deaths) held in 2003 had unanimously recommended monitoring of the sex ratio on a regular basis at the state and union territory levels, taking into account the alarming decline. Complying with that mandate, Delhi has been doing monthly monitoring of sex ratio of institutional births since 2004.

The data is collected on a monthly basis from 50 major hospitals which accounts for 51.97% of the total registered births in 2014 in Delhi. This helps to review the sex ratio at the highest level in the shortest possible time without waiting for yearly indicators. The sex ratio on the basis of institutional births on the basis of these hospitals comes out to 894:1000 for 2014.

The universal sex ratio of Delhi as per census for all age-groups taken together was 821 females per 1000 males in 2001. It was 866 females per 1000 males as per provisional census data in 2011. The child sex ratio data reflected a decline with the census figures showing the sex ratio in the 0-6 age-group at 868 females per 1000 males in 2001, and this dipping to 866:1000 in the 2011 census. “In both categories, Delhi’s sex ratio was below the all-India average of 940 females per 1000 males and 914 females per 1000 males (0-6 years) in 2011.

The data had triggered worry and the Government of India and government of Delhi, then led by Congress chief minister Sheila Dikshit, had come forward to express concern and take measures to enhance the sex ratio. However, not much has changed since then. At that time, maximum concern was raised over the sex ratio in southwest district where it was the lowest at 836:1000. Worse still, this was lower than what it was in 2001 when the district recorded 846 females to 1000 males. In 2001 too, the district recorded the lowest sex ratio.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Alarm-over-sex-ratio-failing-to-improve/articleshow/48703216.cms

 

Forgotten History of Abortion Billboard Advertising—and What Pro-Choice Advocates Can Learn From It


This piece is published in collaboration with Echoing Ida, a Forward Together project.

Across the United States, billboards are visible evidence of the contentious abortion debate. Enlarged images of fetuses, cherubic babies, distressed women, and Bible verses tower over highways and byways like anti-abortion sentinels overseeing America’s culture wars.

Notice I didn’t mention images that show happy, pro-choice women, for it’s a lopsided roadside debate.

Rarely do we see billboards promoting abortion rights or the broader ideals of reproductive justice; there are few examples like New Voices Cleveland’s recent sponsorship of these billboards that affirmed, in the wake of the police killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in the city, that reproductive justice includes the right to parent and protect children. Abortion opponents have effectively cornered the market on this advertising medium and, to paraphrase a hackneyed phrase from “American Idol” judges, have made the billboard their own.

But the good news: The billboard is a just a tool (like video is a tool)—and tools can be harnessed for any movement. In fact, past abortion-rights advocates used billboards to good effect—even before Roe v. Wade. Ideological warfare about abortion via advertising has a long track record, though it’s a past largely forgotten in history’s fog and the present’s relentless attacks on abortion rights. Today’s reproductive rights and justice advocates can’t afford to forget that past. They may need to “go back to the future” to resurrect this tool in an era where women face increasing restrictions on abortion, and providers face proposed laws that would curtail their ability to offer reproductive health care to women most in need.

So what is it that advocates need to remember or learn? For starters, many early billboards functioned as straightforward advertising for abortion—even when it wasn’t widely legal. This roadside sign popped up in McGrann, Pennsylvania, in 1971 and pointed people to neighboring New York state, which had legalized abortion in 1970.

Abortion Billboard

Similar billboards featuring phone numbers began sprouting like giant flowers on the American landscape. As this picture demonstrates, referral services—some nonprofit and some that operated as for-profit entities—also took to streetsides before Roe to tell women that they could find health care in the form of abortion and sterilization.

Billboard on Abortion

Distributing information about abortion through billboards or other advertisements was not without risk; those who did so could face arrest. In 1972, Charlottesville, Virginia, newspaper editor Jeffrey Bigelow was charged with running advertisements for a New-York based abortion referral service and convicted under a state law banning any public promotion of abortion services. The case eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but took a back seat to the bigger challenges to abortion bans: the cases that would become Roe and Georgia’s Doe v. BoltonBigelow v. Virginia was eventually decided in 1975; Bigelow’s conviction was overturned because there could be no limits on the advertising of a service that had become legal.

At the same time, the young anti-abortion movement was also rolling out its own billboards, said historian Jennifer Donnally, a Hollins University visiting professor who researches abortion politics and the new right. From the early days when anti-abortion advocates were organizing against state-level abortion law reform, they have made billboards a key part of their messaging.

“Anti-abortion billboards began to appear on highways in New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Washington [state] prior to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision as part of statewide campaigns against abortion repeal efforts,” Donnally told RH Reality Check.

Many of those billboards were tied to specific ballot measures or potential law changes. In 1970, when Washington state planned a referendum where voters could decide to allow abortion in some circumstances, opponents (and their billboards) came out in full force. “Kill Referendum 20, not me,” implored a billboard picturing a fake fetus cradled in an adult hand. Accused of using tasteless scare tactics, Voice of the Unborn (the group behind the billboards) replied through a representative, reported the New York Times in October of that year: “They show an exact medical school replica of a 4-month-old baby. If the billboards seem to be shocking, perhaps it’s the idea of abortion that’s shocking.” (The referendum passed with 56 percent of the vote, and allowed women and girls to have abortions if they requested them, with the consent of their husbands or guardians, and if the procedure was performed by a licensed physician.)

Donnally noted that anti-abortion billboards have taken different forms and served many purposes over time. They moved from makeshift messages in cornfields to slick public-relations creations, and they mobilized supporters in different ways according to the movement’s age and successes.

“The publicity billboards educated the public and recruited potential activists. Behind the scenes, efforts to place billboards trained anti-abortion activists in fundraising and media relations while also [making] activists feel effective when the movement was in its early stages, following setbacks or celebrating victories. Sometimes, billboard campaigns were sophisticated. Other times, a farmer in a rural area who had a hard time connecting to anti-abortion chapters concentrated in cities and towns took action into his or her own hands,” added Donnally. “They made a plywood anti-abortion sign and posted it on their land next to a heavily traveled highway.”

After the Bigelow ruling, anti-abortion advertising gained steam in the mid-1970s. A February 1976 Village Voice article called John C. Willke, then a practicing obstetrician and a future president of the National Right to Life Committee, the “visual aids guru of the pro-life movement.” Willke’s first visual aids were often slideshows that Willke and his wife presented in talks to high schoolers.

But, according to the article, Willke’s “newest project [was] the creation of the three billboard posters. The least offensive reads ‘Abortion: A woman’s right to choose.’” “Choose” was crossed out and replaced with “kill.” A second billboard depicted tiny feet and this text: “This baby won’t keep his mother awake at night … at least not yet.” Willke planned to erect a fetus billboard atop a building across from a Minnesota hospital that provided abortions, the article added.

Willke’s focus on the fetus and abortion’s supposedly negative and life-changing effects on the woman—now cornerstones of anti-abortion rhetoric—was an experimental and emergent strategy then. Emphasizing abortion as an emotional harm and women as its simultaneous victims and perpetrators, right-to-life groups were often explicit when telling their members how to best deploy billboards. An undated newsletter from the Jackson, Mississippi-based Christian Action Group provided hand-drawn illustrations of possible billboards, one showing “baby’s first visit to the doctor,” a menacing-looking physician holding a black sack and a frazzled woman hovering in the background. Also included was a sample billboard that showed a hand wielding a scalpel, labeled “a pro-choice pacifier.”

Christian Action Group

 

"Pro-Choice Pacifier"

The illustrations came with this advice on using billboards to the best advantage: “One form of ‘advocacy advertising,’ such as political advertising, is to convince people of the justification of your point of view. Another is to make people ashamed to be with your [opponents]. These billboards are the latter.” Cultivating and multiplying shame was a tactic. As abortion opponents’ philosophy went, Americans—even the most well-intentioned or those ignorant of the “real” story about abortion—needed to be confronted visually with their silent complicity.

When Roe came under significant legal challenge in the 1980s, billboards became even more overtly political. In 1988, the year before the U.S. Supreme Court decision Webster v. Reproductive Health Services that allowed states to restrict abortion, a Planned Parenthood billboard showed six male (and mostly anti-abortion) Supreme Court justices holding their own sign saying “Freedom of Choice,” but with Chief Justice William Rehnquist slamming his gavel on the word “of” and Justices Harry Blackmun and Clarence Thomas holding a replacement sign with the word “from.” Also in 1988, anti-abortion activists experimented with a new form of advertising by placing anti-abortion placards in Atlanta taxis during the Democratic National Convention there.

A year later, in 1989, Prolife Across America was up and running. It works as an anti-abortion billboard mill, cranking out design after design (as well as radio spots and other advertising).

Therein lies the difference: Billboards have been institutionalized in anti-abortion media strategy and organizations, but they seemed to fade from the strategic agendas of reproductive rights organizations. In 2014, the Prolife Across America/Prolife Minnesota tax return reported that its designs were emblazoned on more than 6,000 billboards, reaching Americans stuck in traffic or driving to work every day with its larger-than-life messages. The group often says those messages are hotlines for pregnant women, educational, and roadside ministry all wrapped into one. Other organizations provide templates or the actual printed vinyl panels that bear the messages and drape over the standard billboard frames for prices as cheap as $200 (not including the cost of billboard rental, which varies widely according to geography, company, and the estimated number of motorists and views at given locations).

As the billboard has become a consistent anti-abortion platform, the messages billboards have carried read like a conversation between abortion opponents and other social movements. Billboard makers have blatantly adapted the slogans of feminism and civil rights and even the images of Black political leaders such as Frederick Douglass or Barack Obama—and with varying degrees of deftness or tone-deafness.

By the 1990s, billboards in the Midwest had reworked a common feminist bumper sticker to read “Pro-life: The radical idea that fetuses are people.” Later, billboards took an explicitly racial turn. In 2011, billboards proclaiming “Black & Beautiful” alongside pictures of Black infants appeared in Oakland, California. Sponsored by the anti-abortion group Issues4Life, the billboards appropriated the language of the Black Panther movement, which had its most well-known and vocal chapter in the Bay Area city.

Images and messages on billboards that explicitly targeted Black communities—and paved the way for others aimed at Latinos and Asians—were not entirely new. As scholar Gillian Frank has pointed out, a 1972 Michigan referendum about changing that state’s abortion law pushed anti-abortion groups to begin developing brochures that pictured Black babies and compared abortion to slavery, now old-hat anti-abortion fare.

More than 20 years later, diverse groups protested the encroachment of racist billboards in their home communities. In Oakland in 2011, Strong Families and a coalition of multiracial groups joined forces to persuade CBS Outdoor to take down controversial signage—a campaign similar to one used a year before by the Atlanta-based SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective when billboards also owned by CBS and claiming that “black children are an endangered species” appeared in the Georgia capital. Earlier this year, the reproductive justice group SisterReach successfully pushed for the removal of anti-abortion billboards in Tennessee.

Yet the hand that giveth does taketh away. Contemporary groups fighting for abortion access find that many billboard and other advertising companies reserve the right to deny or take down controversial content. And those contractual stipulations mean that some companies will reject outright advertising that specifically references abortion or simply points women to services—for fear that the other side will cause a ruckus and demand its removal. Fears of the “A-word” have made it into the online world, with Google determining that abortion ads were “non-family-safe” content and categorizing them with adult advertising and entertainment.

Whatever the advertising format, it’s clear that this type of commercial and political speech isn’t going away. And few people know that better than Jasmine Burnett, New Voices Cleveland’s field organizer in the Midwest. In 2010, she led the campaign to take down a SoHo, New York, billboard that proclaimed the most dangerous place for a Black person was the womb, and this year, Burnett was a driving force behind the Cleveland billboard.

Cleveland Billboard

Burnett said that it’s not enough to mount defensive campaigns that respond to the propagandistic billboards that increasingly dot urban and mostly Black neighborhoods. What’s necessary is billboard activism that moves beyond reproductive rights’ preoccupation with abortion and, in keeping with a reproductive justice lens, addresses the racism that’s an American bedrock.

“Anti-abortion billboards are an affront and an attack. [In doing the billboards, New Voices Cleveland] wanted to provide other spaces for creative thought, affirmation, and liberation,” said Burnett. “We work for the full health and well-being of Black women and people. For us, full health means having a different image of ourselves, being able to control and discuss our reproduction, and thinking about how we navigate self-determination in the midst of white supremacy.

“There are not many [billboards or other advertising] that talk about Black people’s lives,” Burnett added. “And we wanted our billboards to say, ‘We support your decision and right to parent or not parent. And we care about your life.’”

http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2015/07/30/largely-forgotten-history-abortion-billboard-advertising-pro-choice-advocates-can-learn/

A Thai Surrogacy Case, With A 6-Month-Old Girl Caught In The Middle


JULY 15, 2015 
Manuel Santos feeds 6-month-old Carmen as biological father Bud Lake looks on. The couple is fighting for custody of the baby, born to a surrogate in Thailand who now wants to keep her.

Manuel Santos feeds 6-month-old Carmen as biological father Bud Lake looks on. The couple is fighting for custody of the baby, born to a surrogate in Thailand who now wants to keep her.

Michael Sullivan/NPR

Manuel Santos, from Valencia, Spain, is feeding his daughter, Carmen, a 6-month-old who was born to a surrogate in Thailand.

Father and daughter are in a temporary apartment in Bangkok, accompanied by Santos’ husband, Gordon Alan “Bud” Lake III, from New Jersey, and the couple’s 2-year-old son, Alvaro, who was born to a surrogate in India.

Carmen is stuck in the middle while his parents wage a legal battle to take her with them. The Thai surrogate who carried Carmen has backed out of her contract. And under a new law, Carmen belongs to her — not to Santos and Lake.

“We need two things to leave,” says Lake. “One thing would be [Carmen’s] passport. The second would be paperwork to get through immigration. And that requires special paperwork to let a baby leave the country.”

They were close to getting it. The surrogate who gave birth to Carmen signed a consent form that allowed Lake to take her from the hospital and put his name on the birth certificate. But the woman failed to show up at the last meeting at the U.S. Embassy to sign that last bit of paper.

So even though Lake is the biological father and the egg came from a donor — not the surrogate — the family is stuck.

“We’re having problems with our jobs and financially … and all this is [the surrogate’s] fault. We’ve done nothing wrong here,” Lake says. “We’ve done everything by the book, we had an agreement, we commissioned a surrogacy and she agreed to be a surrogate. She received the monthly payments. She’s the one who changed her mind.”

Lax Regulation

An adviser to the surrogate says Thailand’s commercial surrogacy business was wrong from the start. She calls it human trafficking. And she calls the surrogate in this case a victim — even though she willingly entered into a contract and was paid well by local standards.

When Carmen was conceived more than a year ago, commercial surrogacy was booming in Thailand. Thanks to lax regulation, commissioning parents could get babies more cheaply here than in other countries where commercial surrogacy is legal. Surrogates could earn about $15,000 for carrying babies to term.

Then came the case of Baby Gammy. An Australian couple commissioned twins, but balked when Gammy was found to have Down syndrome. They took his healthy sister home and left Gammy behind with his surrogate mother, who was happy to keep him.

The Thai media hit the story hard. And early this year, the military-led government pulled the plug: No more commercial surrogacy in Thailand. And no more surrogacy for foreigners, period.

There was supposed to be a grace period for parents who already had babies on the way, like Lake and Santos. And that’s worked for most.

So why did their surrogate, Patidta Kusongsaang, change her mind?

She lists a lot of reasons.

“First of all, they are not natural parents in Thai society,” she says through an interpreter. “They are same-sex, not like male and female that can take care of babies. Second thing is, when I tried to contact them to visit the baby, they didn’t want to talk to me. And the third thing is, I was begging them to see the baby but they didn’t allow me to see her. They treated me very badly and said I have no right to see the baby.”

The Fight Ahead

Lake and Santos deny all of this. They are getting ready to fight for Carmen in a Thai court. But Lake says the lawyers they’ve talked to say their chances of winning are less than 10 percent.

“The reason they gave us such a low percentage is because, despite the fact there are temporary provisions in the new law just published that say … parents can ask for their parental rights to be recognized in court, unfortunately, it’s worded as ‘husband and wife,’ ” he says.

Lake suspects the law was written to exclude gay couples deliberately. And he seems to be on to something.

“Thai law does not endorse same-sex pair. And [under] Thai law, a legal couple is husband and wife, man and woman,” says Dr. Arkom Pradidsuwan of the Thai Medical Council in the Ministry of Public Health.

Carmen’s legal status, he says, is that she belongs to Kusongsaang.

Santos says that’s not fair: He and Lake are legally married. Many other countries recognize this fact.

“We are married in the States, in Spain, in Europe, and I respect the law, but they have to understand that everything changed in our [world] when all these things about surrogacy [changed] … but we don’t have anything to do with that,” Santos says.

For years, commercial surrogacy in Thailand worked for many people — not only for couples who wanted but couldn’t have babies but also for surrogates who needed the money. Advocates argue that commercial surrogacy didn’t need to be banned; it just needed to be better regulated, in part to avoid problems like this one.

Stuck In Limbo

So where does this leave Santos, Lake, Alvaro and Carmen? For now, in limbo. Lake says the U.S. Embassy has told him its hands are pretty much tied.

“They’ve advised us that we need to follow judicial channels,” he says. “They’ve given us advice, they’ve lent an ear to listen, but from what they’ve told us, there’s really not much that they can do, that we have to follow the legal channels, that that’s our only option.”

An official at the State Department confirmed this in an email, saying, “U.S. citizens in Thailand are subject to Thailand law. Pursuant to U.S. law, the Department cannot issue passports to minor children without the consent of the legal parent/s or guardian/s.”

The couple has been switching apartments every month or so. They have reason to be afraid: Kusongsaang and her adviser have gone to the police and formally accused Lake of child abduction. He recently went to hear the charges. He left Carmen at home, just in case.

He and Santos say they’ll do everything they can to keep her. There’s no way, Santos says, they’re going home without their baby.

“No, no no,” he says softly, shaking his head. “Because she’s our daughter. By heart and genetically. If we have to move here and leave our families and work, we will do. But we will not leave Carmen. Because [she] is not her daughter; [she] is our daughter.”

Lake and Santos thought they’d be bringing the baby home six months ago, shortly after she was born. Back then, they were excited at the thought of Carmen meeting the family — especially Santos’ ailing 91-year-old grandmother, Carmen’s namesake.

 

She died a few weeks ago.

http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/07/15/423188769/a-thai-surrogacy-case-with-a-6-month-old-girl-caught-in-the-middle?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20150715

Piplantri: A village in Rajsathan that plants 111 trees on birth of every girl child


India TV News Desk  [ Updated 15 Jul 2015, 22:37:13 ]
Piplantri: A village in Rajsathan that plants 111 trees on birth of every girl child!

New Delhi: In a country where incidents of sex selection , child marriage and widening sex-ratio are everyday flooding the newspapers, here comes a ray of sunshine.

A village in southern Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district celebrates the birth of every girl child by planting 111 trees, a unique initiative towards achieving equal sex-ratio.

Named Pipalantri, the village has been simultaneously doing the tremendous task of saving girl children as well as increasing the green cover in the area.

Village’s former sarpanch Shyam Sundar Paliwal is the key man behind the commencement of this initiative. He started the scheme in 2006 in the fond memory of his daughter Kiran, who died a few years ago.

Apart from nurturing saplings, the parents are also made to sign an affidavit promising that they will not marry off their daughters before the legal age of 18 years and they will not practise sex selection

piplantri rajasthan village

As per the 2011-12 annual health survey, 20.3% of the women in rural Rajasthan are married off before they attain the age of 18.

“We make these parents sign an affidavit promising that they would not marry her off before the legal age, send her to school regularly and take care of the trees planted in her name,” Mr. Paliwal was quoted as saying by leading news daily.

In the span of 8 years, the villagers have planted an astonishing number of 286,000 trees while caring for the girl child.

The figure itself speaks volume, as Piplantri falls in the state where there is extensive sex selection  and imbalance sex ratio.

However, the village panchayat is serious about bringing the change in the society.

After a girl child is born, a sum of Rs 31,000 (Rs 21,000 collected from village residents and 10,000 from child’s father) is put into fixed deposit for the future of girl child.

The maturity period of this fixed deposit is 20 years, thereby assuring that money can be spent on her marriage only after the legal age of 18 years.

piplantri rajasthan

“A girl child is considered a burden because in most parts of Rajasthan, like in many other parts of the country, her marriage is an expensive proposition. The FD account was to give the parents a sense of financial security,” Paliwal said.

Till now, villagers have religiously stuck to this tradition initiated by the village panchayat. The village also plants 11 trees on the death of any member from the district.

According to 2011 census, the district’s sex ratios stand at 990:1000, a figure way above the Rajasthan’s sex ratio of 929 females over 1,000 male.

Piplantri not only sets an example with this innovative scheme but also calls for a strict action from the government to fix the imbalance in sex-ratio in the country.

http://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india/rajasthan-village-plants-111-trees-on-girl-birth-52673.html

Haryana diagnostic centre raided: 3 arrested for sex-determination tests


Meerut: A city-based diagnostic centre, which allegedly carried out sex-determination tests and involved in sex selection , was sealed on Wednesday in a raid and three persons were arrested, police said.

 Reuters

The diagnostic centres, situated on Bagpat road, was allegedly carrying out sex determination tests on women from neighbouring Haryana and also carrying out illegal abortion of female foetuses, ASP Shankalp Sharma said.

The raid was conducted jointly by a team of Haryana health department officials, including the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Panipat and Uttar Pradesh police, he said, adding that three persons, including the owner of the centre Sanjay Agarwal and his two agents, Pushpendra and Bittoo, were also arrested.

The action came following a complaint by a woman to the District Magistrate of Panipat that she was taken to Meerut to carry out sex-determination test and abortion after it was found that she was having a female foetus, the official said.

The DM formed a team headed by chief medical officer (CMO) of Panipat, Indrajeet Singh. Preliminary probes brought to light that an agent Bitto Singh used to procure clients for the clinic.

Soon after, the CMO along with two women constables reached Meerut and visited the clinic with help from a team from Transport Nagar police station.

“The women constables posed as decoys and got Dr Sanjay Agarwal, the owner of the diagnostic centre, to agree to conduct a sex determination test in lieu of an unknown sum. Dr Agarwal was arrested the moment he began the procedure,” said ASP Sankalp Singh.

Dr Agarwal’s assistant Pushpender Singh was also arrested and the clinic was sealed. A case has been registered in Transport Nagar police station and both the accused have been sent to jail. Police are trying to ascertain the number of illegal abortions conducted at the clinic from previous records.

The PCPNDT Act bans prenatal sex determination with a view to stop cases of female foeticide. Under the Act, a convict can get a maximum life sentence of xxx years.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/City-doc-caught-conducting-sex-determination/articleshow/47978614.cms

The missing girls of Maharashtra & Gujarat


The missing girls of Maharashtra & Gujarat

anti female foeticide campaign poster

By Prachi Salve,

New Delhi, 23 June 2015: There is a shortfall of 73 percent and 55 percent in inspections of sonography centres in the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, two of India’s richest.

The child sex-ratio (number of girls under six years per 1,000 boys) in the states are among the lowest in India, especially in backward districts, such as Beed in Maharashtra’s Marathwada region (807) and Surat district (831) in Gujarat. The national average is 914.

Verdicts have been pronounced in 23 cases of 603 reported cases of child marriage in Maharashtra with 580 cases pending for 2013-14.

No one has been convicted in Gujarat under the prohibition of Child Marriage Act, although 659 cases are registered.

A wealth of laws and programmes instituted to protect girls are failing them in India’s two most economically-developed states, Maharashtra and Gujarat, according to recent reports by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).

Both states are failing to implement the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PC & PNT), which prohibits sex selection, before or after conception, and regulates diagnostic techniques to prevent misuse for sex determination used in female foeticide.

Strong laws that work on paper, fail on ground

On paper, the Act provides for robust implementation state-wide through a supervisory board and an advisory committee including an officer of or above the rank of joint director of Health and Family Welfare as chairperson; representatives from women’s organisations and an officer of the law department.

The chief medical officer or civil surgeon is designated the appropriate authority at the district level.

“The joint secretary, health and family welfare department, stated that the state (Gujarat) government had assured to increase (sic) rate of conviction by meticulous paper work, evidence gathering and proper submission, and strong pleading of PC & PNDT cases,” the report said.

Maharashtra registered 481 cases under the PC & PNDT Act as of March 2014.

While 181 offences were registered in Gujarat under the PC & PNDT Act as of March 2014, only 49 cases were prosecuted and only six offenders were convicted, the CAG report said. The punishments include imprisonment, cancellation of licences and fine.

In violation of Supreme Court directions to prosecute cases within six months, cases continued from one to 12 years.

The failure to implement the PC & PNDT Act is responsible for the falling child sex-ratio in these states, the report said.

Sex ratio improves in India, not in Maharashtra, Gujarat

Maharashtra’s overall sex ratio declined from 920 to 919 over a decade (2001 to 2011) although the all-India ratio improved from 933 to 943, according to census 2011.

For Gujarat, the overall sex ratio declined from 920 to 919 from 2001 to 2011. However, there was some improvement in the child sex-ratio from 883 to 890 between 2001 and 2011.

Another important finding of the report is that the child sex-ratio is lower in urban areas than in rural areas in both states.

The report explains that this could be due to the availability of sonography centres in urban areas.

“The availability of genetic clinics in urban areas and awareness of literate people about usage of sex determination techniques could also be attributed to declining child sex-ratio in urban areas,” the report said.

The child sex-ratio in urban India stood at 902 as against 919 in rural areas, the report said.

In Maharashtra, the child sex-ratio in urban regions stood at 899 and 890 in rural areas.

In Gujarat, the child sex-ratio in urban areas is 852 and 914 in rural areas.

Children forced into marriage under-reported by both states

Child marriages, meaning girls/boys aged 10 to 19 years getting married, are common across Maharashtra and Gujarat, the report said.  The audit found that both states were under-reporting child marriages.

There are almost 17 million children in India who were married between the ages of 10 and 19. Maharashtra ranks 5th with 1.5 million children married, while Gujarat is 7th with 0.9 million children married in the 10-19 age group.

Almost 73 percent of children married are girls in Maharashtra while it is 66 percent in Gujarat.

The report highlighted the high pendency of cases pertaining to child marriages in Maharashtra.

In 2014, 101 new cases were registered and verdicts were pronounced in 23 cases.

There were delays in nominating Child Marriage Prohibition Officers in rural areas while no officers were nominated in urban areas, the report said.

Though The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act came into force from June 2012, the government was yet to frame guidelines to assist girls during pre-trial and trial, the report said.

In Gujarat, out of 659 complaints of child marriages during 2009-14, court cases were filed in only 15; no one was convicted during this period.

Maharashtra, Gujarat: Money is not the issue

Gujarat contributes more than 7.5 percent to India’s GDP while Maharashtra contributes about 14 percent.

In 2013-14, Maharashtra’s per capita income (at current prices) was 45.6 percent above the Indian norm (Rs 117,091 annually), while Gujarat‘s was 33 percent above (Rs 106,831 annually at current prices). India’s average annual per capita income (at current prices) was Rs 80,388.

While Maharashtra grew at 8.7 percent in 2014-15, Gujarat grew at 8.8 percent in 2014-15.

(In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform. Prachi Salve  can be contacted at webmaster@indiaspend.org. The views expressed are personal)

(IANS/IndiaSpend)

MTP law amendments set to allow abortion up to 24 weeks


Forty years after medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) was legalized in the country, access to safe abortion still remains a distant dream for many.
NEW DELHI: Fresh fears about risks to women’s health by allowing Ayush doctors to conduct abortion and ambiguity on the proposed extension of gestation period may force the government to keep the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) amendment bill out of Parliament in the upcoming monsoon session.Already embroiled in a debate on patient safety versus access to healthcare with the addition of ayurvedacharyas, homoeopaths and nurses to conduct MTP, the bill is now witnessing a new dispute with a recent a study in an international journal pointing towards “contradictory” amendments to the law posing risk to women’s health.

However, putting aside concerns over the proposed changes to the 1971 law, authorities involved in drafting the new law said the proposed amendments would extend the gestation period from 20 weeks to 24 weeks for “special categories”, which is likely to include single women with unwanted pregnancy, disabled and other vulnerable women.

Besides, the law would also allow abortion any time during the pregnancy for “selective” foetal abnormality, which cannot be detected during the 20-week gestation period.

Currently, the law allows medical abortion till 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“A law is an Act of Parliament. Once the amendment bill is passed in Parliament, the ministry will frame rules to define each and every category. Clarity will come with rules,” an official said. He added that even in case of allowing Ayush doctors to conduct medical termination of pregnancy, rules will ensure such doctors or paramedical staff receive “required training”.

The health ministry has worked out changes to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Amendment Bill. The revised bill proposes to allow Ayush doctors to conduct non-invasive procedures on women seeking to terminate pregnancy. The draft bill will soon be sent to the Cabinet.”We have made revisions to the earlier draft and proposed that Ayush doctors who are registered healthcare specialists be allowed to carry out non-invasive procedure, which would mean prescribing medicines etc,” a senior health ministry official told TOI.
Another key amendment seeks to increase the period for abortion to 24 weeks from the present 20 weeks.

The government’s proposal, originally formulated taking a cue from a study conducted by Population Council, is aimed at increasing access to safe abortion by expanding the number of healthcare providers.

Estimates show around 7 million abortions are conducted in India every year and over 50% of them are said to be illegal.

Initially, the government had decided to allow midwives and Ayush doctors to do even invasive procedures for abortion, but dropped it following mounting objections from allopathic practitioners, particularly Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI).

IMA, a pan India voluntary organization with a membership of 2.5 lakh allopathic practitioners, said even the latest move can put patients at risk as well as allow unethical practices and sex selective abortions.

“MTP is a procedure meant to be conducted by an allopathic doctor only. It is not possible to allow restricted practice. How will the government monitor whether a person is conducting abortion through medicine or doing invasive procedures,” says IMA secretary general Dr KK Aggarwal.

According to Dr Aggarwal, abortions by a non-MBBS doctor can lead to critical medical conditions arising out of excessive bleeding or incomplete abortions, which can be difficult to handle.

Ministry officials say FOGSI members were part of the consultations and initially supported the amendments. However, FOGSI has maintained that it changed its position after a thorough discussion.

“Expanding the number and type of providers able to legally perform abortion services, including manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) and medical abortion (MA), could greatly expand women’s access to safe abortion and save many lives each year,” Population Council said in a note on the issue.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) also seems to endorse the government’s proposal. A technical and policy guidance for health systems by WHO released in 2012 states, “Abortion care can be safely provided by any properly trained health-care provider, including mid-level providers….(e.g. midwives, nurse practitioners, clinical officers, physician assistants, family welfare visitors, and others) who are trained to provide basic clinical procedures related to reproductive health…”

Traditionally, mid-wives have played a key role in catering to urgent medical needs, especially attending to pregnant women for child delivery or even for abortion, in rural areas and villages that lacked medical facilities. Though with time government health centres and private players reached many such villages, mid-wives continue to exist and attend to many emergencies even today.

The government’s proposal to involve Ayush doctors has also found support from the women and child development ministry, National Commission for Women and other women’s groups.

 

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