Flipkart removes all books promoting sex-selection

Flipkart removes all books promoting sex-selection after online campaigning by gender activists
Indian e-commerce giant moved after a petition gathered almost 12,000 signatures to remove sex-selection literature.
After nearly two months of petitioning and online campaigning by various gender rights activists and organisations against the listing of literature that promoted sex-selection on Indian e-commerce websites, e-tailer Flipkart has moved and removed all such listings from its website. Flipkart’s removal of books written by Indian and foreign authors from its site has raised hopes that other retailers like Amazon will follow suit too.

“All our sellers are expected to adhere to certain guidelines if they sell with us,” a Flipkart spokesperson said. “Any violation of these guidelines is taken very seriously. We take strict action against sellers who attract negative feedback about their service or are found to be engaged in selling products that are fake, in violation of copyright or any other applicable laws of the land.”

The online petition, which was piloted by Girls Count, an organisation working for gender equality, garnered close to 12,000 signatures before it declared victory. However, another shopping website Naaptol.com was the first to act, as it removed the ‘Guarantee the Sex of Your Baby’ last month from its platform.

Here’s why it is important 

India’s dismal sex ratio has always been a source of concern, prompting the government to try long and hard to prevent sex selection in the country, making it illegal to find out the gender of an unborn child.

Multiple regulations, such as the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994, seem to be proving insufficient due to lax enforcement by the authorities and the sex ratio in the country remains low at 943 girls for every 1,000 boys.

In addition, authorities now have to deal with a new front: the internet, as newer ways have to be found to deal with online advertising and e-tailing.

Blanket bans

In January, a long-standing petition prompted an order from the Supreme Court barring search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing from advertising or promoting prenatal sex selection advertisements on their sites. The petition claimed that the websites were earning revenue from keyword searches such as “sex selection kits”,  which would be illegal in India.

But not everyone agrees, arguing that stringent blocking of keywords might be going overboard. “The problem is keyword based blocking which is not limited to advertisements. For instance the petitioners want the phrase, “boy or girl” blocked from ads as well as Web pages,” said Apar Gupta, a lawyer from New Delhi while speaking to Scroll. “If the specific mode is a keyword filter it may result in overbroad blocking of web pages which solely cater to information on pregnancy.”

Google, however, maintained that it is taking steps to ensure advertisements promoting sex selection do not show up. “In India, we do not allow ads for the promotion of prenatal gender determination or preconception sex selection,” the company told Scroll. “We are therefore already in compliance with the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and the provisions of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994,” it added.

Activists are however looking beyond search engines, and even targeting books available online that not only deal with sex selection but also claim to help parents select the sex of the child.

Girls Count, a collective of civil society organisations aimed at empowering women and arresting gender based sex selection, had started an online petition that argued:

Flipkart, Amazon.in, Junglee, Naaptol, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo should be held accountable for advertising and selling publications on sex selection online, promoting daughter dislike and making profits by breaching the law of the country. Now that the entire nation is promoting the value of girl child, advertisement and sale of such publications by these search engines and online shopping websites defeat the purpose of the Government of India’s commendable programme- Beti Bachao Beti Padhao that seeks to promote equal value for daughters.

On their radar were books such as Gender Selection: Learn How To Conceive A Boy Or Girl  available on Flipkart for Rs 600 as an e-book. It claimed to not only help you learn the “diet changes that could affect the gender of your baby,” but also advised the parents on the “right” sexual position which could “influence” the gender of the baby.

The description on the site claimed that the methods in the book had been used by “thousands of couples” to select their preferred gender in the baby. Listed under the category “Health and Fitness”, the book was only one among several others available on the site including one by an Indian author which comes at a 7% discount.

While the above has now been removed, a cursory search at sites such as Amazon showed up at least four such books, with prices ranging from Rs 50 to Rs 1,500.  Our repeated queries had elicited a generic response from e-tailers who claimed that they “take strict action against sellers who attract negative feedback about their service or are found to be engaged in selling products that are fake, in violation of copyright or any other applicable laws of the land.”

Banning books?

It is easy to argue that such books also happen to be available in regular book-shops and publishing them is not prohibited by law, as it is to dismiss them as quackery, as medical science would simply scoff at such outlandish claims, Gupta disagrees with the petitioners, arguing that censorship is not the answer.

“[Books] should not and cannot be be prohibited,” he said. “The least invasive form of censorship should be adopted. Short of a book, providing a physical map to a sex selection clinic, no book on pre-natal diagnostics should be filtered.” He added that filtering of books based on search terms and not their content could be counter productive.

Rizwan Parwez, campaign coordinator with Girls Count, however disagreed with Gupta’s contention, maintaining that such literature could fuel patriarchy. “We know that the society we live in is infamous for female foeticide and infanticide,” he said. “In such a situation, wouldn’t it be better if we don’t open more avenues for people to break the law and determine sex of their unborn children?”

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.





BMC to beef up vigilance in wards with dismal sex ratio

By, TNN | Feb 19, 2013,  IST

MUMBAI: Fifteen of the BMC‘s 24 wards across the city improved their sex ratio at birth in 2012 from 2011.

The B Ward of Bhendi Bazaar and Masjid Bunder recorded the highest sex ratio at birth of 996 girl children born per 1,000 boys.

Areas such as Malabar Hill came a close second; it recorded 979 deliveries of girl children per 1,000 boys in 2012, up from 915 girls in 2011. Borivli, too, registered 979 girl births in 2012, up from 914 in 2011.

These figures are based on the data compiled by the BMC, which issues birth certificates in the city.

Demographics and gender studies experts have attributed the improvement in the sex ratio to awareness drives as well as stringent regulation of maternity and sonography clinics, and sustained crackdown on illegal sex determination.

The largest dip in sex ratio, on the other hand, has been recorded in the C Ward of Bhuleshwar, Pydhonie and Sandhurst Road. The number has dropped from 981 girls per 1,000 boys in 2011 to a shockingly low 860 girls in 2012. The other areas that have witnessed a drastic dip include Kandivli. It recorded 882 births of girls per 1,000 boys in 2012 against 907 in 2011. Dahisar, too, registered a lower figure of 891 girls against 893 in 2011.

Dr Arokya Swamy, demographer at the Indian Institute of Population Studies (IIPS), said theBMC should now focus on localities that have shown a dip and strengthen their vigilance to curb female foeticide.

The BMC, on its part, has already lined up a programme for specific areas where the sex ratio is low or has fallen drastically. The civic body has asked its primary health staff to increase surveillance and immediately report any illegal activity in their areas. “We will also dissect the data so that the reason for the dip can be understood. Effective steps will be taken to improve the situation,” said a senior health officer.

Experts added the drop in certain areas could be attributed to the fact that young couples these days opt for a single child and may choose a male over a female child.

They further said that this data does not pinpoint to any trend, though, as there are cases where a mother may have delivered a female child in some ward and acquired her birth certificate from another.

“There is also a chance that the expectant mother has gone to her mother’s residence for delivery and got a birth certificate from the ward where she lives. Such cases may be few, but cannot be neglected,” said Dr Swamy.


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


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


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


#India- #Punjab – Discarded daughter has emerged as ‘ray of sunshine’

Sarita Skagnes has no birth certificate for a chillingly pragmatic reason: She was to be killed as a baby for the crime of being born a girl.

But her father’s attempt to smother her at 8 weeks old was unsuccessful. She lived to endure a devastating childhood, abandoned by her parents at 3, forced to work as an indentured servant, raped by two family members and plagued by hunger and loneliness.

Yet Skagnes triumphed, never to be smothered again.

Now 43, happily married and an international advocate for children’s rights, Skagnes is in the Twin Cities this week to speak about her life — more accurately, her two lives — and her best-selling book, “Just A Daughter,” newly translated into English.

“I came to this earth as Satwant Kaur of the Shimbe caste,” Skagnes writes. “I was just a daughter — good for nothing, just like many other daughters.”

Skagnes was born in 1969 in Punjab, India, her parents’ third girl. During the pregnancy, her mother sought out priests and gurus who blessed her stomach and promised her a son.

“When I came to the world,” Skagnes said, “I was a catastrophe.”

At 3, her family moved to Oslo, Norway, leaving her behind with an aunt and uncle who, she believed, were her parents. In exchange, her biological parents took their nephew with them to raise as their long-awaited son.

“He would have a good life, a rich life, a good education,” Skagnes said.

She would have nothing of the sort. At 4, she began mopping floors and washing dishes. She slept on the kitchen floor and waited until after her family ate to consume the scraps.

For five years, she was sexually abused by an older cousin. Her aunt was enraged to learn of it, telling Skagnes it was her fault.

She attended school sporadically but felt out of place with her “shabby clothes.”

When she was 9, “the couple from Norway” visited India with their newborn son (conceived after Skagnes’ mother aborted two or three female fetuses). Skagnes remembers the joyful party held for them, with rare sweets. And she remembers being told that the Norwegian couple were actually her parents. She was stunned, and hopeful.

“I thought they lived like a king and queen,” she said. “I thought that if I was a good girl, doing my job properly, maybe they would take me to Norway.” She served them tea, hoping they would notice her. “But they were so busy with this stupid baby boy.” (She laughs at the comment, emphasizing that she loves her younger brother “very much.”)

Her father finally came for her when she was 16. First, he raped her. She ran away. He promised to never touch her again, and he didn’t. She moved to Norway and began school again, full time. Life was comfortable. She had a bed, food and clothes.

Cleaning a house at 19, she noticed that the homeowner’s son, Alex Skagnes, often stuck around when she arrived. They became friends, then more. He told her that she was beautiful, “a ray of sunshine.” When her father found a photograph of his daughter and Alex, he beat her up and quickly arranged for her marriage to a man in India. She ran away again, cut her hair, changed her name and, in 1990, married Alex.

She hasn’t had contact with her parents in more than 20 years.

In 2004, Skagnes reconnected with one of her sisters, who was in a psychiatric hospital. The sister encouraged Skagnes to write a book about her life. Skagnes wrote 1,000 pages in eight months. Then her sister committed suicide, and a devastated Skagnes lost her desire for the project. A few years later she realized “this was not about me or my sister.”

This was about what could be for other girls.

The book, “Bare en Datter” (Just a Daughter), was published in Norway in 2007, becoming a best-seller soon re-published in Finland and Sweden. Skagnes found herself speaking at Parliament and being stopped on the street for her autograph.

But celebrity doesn’t drive her. Baby girls still are being killed in India, she said, mostly in poorer villages. Many girls have no chance at an education. For 25 years, Skagnes has sponsored girls in India so they can stay in school. Among them, one is now a doctor, another an engineer.

She donates book royalties to her nonprofit, Higher Education for Girls in India (www.saritaskagnes.com).

“This is something she needed to do,” said Sonja Johnston, minister of music at the Minnesota Valley Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship in Bloomington. Johnston, a popular Twin Cities pianist and singer, is Alex Skagnes’ second cousin. She spent two years translating Skagnes’ book into English. An immensely grateful Skagnes calls Johnston “Mom.”

“I was so tested, but I didn’t fail,” Skagnes said. “All the bad things were not my fault. That took me 30 years to figure out.”



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.

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




7th  June, 2012

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.

Our family never longed for male child- Really ?

TOI Speaks To Neelabai Patekar, Mother-In-Law Of Vijaymala, Whose Death Exposed Illegal Abortions In Beed

Sumitra Deb Roy | TNN

Vijaymala Patekar (23), whose death while undergoing termination of pregnancy exposed the thriving market of illegal abortions in Beed district, was pregnant for the sixth time. Local health reports showed she had aborted a child two years back but this time she was not as ‘lucky’.
Her daughters Rohini (11), Tejaswini (10), Rutuja (9) and Rama (2) are staring at a bleak future now. With their mother gone and father in jail for pushing their mother to abort the foetus, the girls are all but “orphaned”. Vijaymala’s death took place at Munde hospital in Parli.
When TOI visited the Patekars on Wednesday at their village Bhopa, around 100 km from Beed town, the family looked dazed about the turn of events and refused to acknowledge that she had aborted another child in 2009. Reports said she had attempted two abortions before.
This was confirmed by reports maintained by the local anganwadi.
“She had stopped coming to the anganwadi for her quota of food after her fourth month of pregnancy. This was in April 2009, when she would not even turn up for vaccination. When we asked her about this, she said she had a miscarriage. Most women say that after they get an abortion done, but it would be unfair to blame them,” said anganwadi sevika Ranerasha Vitthal Rao, who has been running the anganwadi
in the area since 1994.
Vijaymala’s mother-in-law Neelabai (67) showed discomfort when asked about the abortion that killed her daughter-in-law. “We know nothing about it. My son and his wife left for the hospital on the morning of May 18 for a ‘check-up’ for backache. We then got a call from my son saying she was no more,” she said.
Neelabai said the family never longed for a male child.
“We are happy with our girls. Of course, we have no avenues to raise these children,” she said.
Vijaymala and husband Mahadev used to migrate to Karnataka for sugarcane cutting for six months every year and got a measly amount of Rs 25,000-30,000. Mahadev’s parents, both above 65, said they did not have resources to fight for their son’s release. The Parli police complained how the Patekars have not lodged any complaint against Dr Sudam Munde.
June 5: Teams of government officials and police, while conducting raid on hospitals, find Dr Madhav Sanap of Bhagwan hospital carrying out sex selection tests
Sanap’s registration cancelled for five years by Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) six months ago as he was illegally running it under the name of his anesthetist, Dr A Dahiphalkar
Both doctors absconding
Three incidents in Beed and one of its talukas, Parli, have highlighted the flourishing industry of illegal abortions and female foeticide DOC COUPLE GETS COURT NOTICE
May 18: Vijaymala Patekar (22) dies of bleeding while undergoing illegal abortion in sixth month of gestation at Munde hospital
Dr Sudam Munde and doctor wife Saraswati claim patient died of excessive bleeding but absconded after details of female infanticide surface
Police investigations reveal 40 bank accounts, 120 acres of land and deposits of over Rs 1 crore
Parli court issues notice directing doctor couple to surrender before July 3 or else property will be sealed 2 BOOKED FOR DUMPING FOETUSES
June 3: Two female foetuses found in dry basin of Bindusara river Administration and cops trace back foetuses to Sanap hospital run by Dr Shivaji Sanap
Police say foetuses belonged to unmarried girl from Pune and married woman from Georai tehsil. Both abortions illegal as they were performed beyond five months
Mangal Masu Dhighe (29) and Manisha Vilas Javle (28), ayahs at Dr Sanap’s hospital, booked for dumping foetuses
Police find another unmarried girl in hospital whose foetus was also aborted at Sanap hospital
Aborted female foetus taken to Kakad-Hira village of Patoda tehsil by the girl’s parents. Police recover foetus and bring it for post-mortem
Dr Sanap remanded to police custody till June 12.
Police arrest father-inlaw Dr Srihari Lahane on June 6 (With inputs from Atul Kulkarni)

The reports coming from Beed indicate a strong nexus between the sex determinationabortion industry and the administration. The Mundes’ hospital seems to have fed on this nexus and prospered. How else does one explain the administration not knowing what seems to have been common knowledge in the entire belt? And how else does one explain the doctors’ burgeoning practice despite being under the scanner? The state and local administration appear to be equal partners in this crime with the doctors.

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)


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)

No brides for 59 lakh men in UP

LUCKNOW: On the eve of Akshay Tritiya, an auspicious day in the Hindu calendar to get married, over 59 lakh marriageable men in UP are without brides. Census data on the marital status of Indian population reveals that most Indian men live in a state of forced bachelorhood.

Lesser number of girls due to the high female foeticide rate during the 1970s, 80s and 90s is considered to be the primary cause for the situation.

The conclusion has been derived from census data on marital status of Indian population released recently. For 79.56 lakh unmarried men in their 20s, there are just 29.26 lakh unmarried women living. Similarly, there are 9.13 lakh men in their 30s but only 1.95 lakh girls while 3.03 lakh men in their 40s have 59,399 women to choose from.

“This had to happen as girls were killed mercilessly inside the womb in those decades,” said Dr Neelam Singh, member, national inspection and monitoring committee on PCPNDT (pre-conception, pre-natal diagnostic techniques) Act. “That was the time sex determination strengthened its roots in India and created ripples in western parts of UP. The scenario will worsen by 2021,” she said.

Population sex ratio for UP over the decades explains the gap. In the 1901 census, UP sex ratio was 938 which was 16 points less than the natural sex ratio of 954. It continued to drop until 1961, however, 70s saw the worst sex ratio of 876 (78 units below natural ratio). It picked up marginally in the 80s but slipped again in the 90s. At 908, UP sex ratio is way behind the national average of 940. “Had it not been for the PC PNDT act in the 1990s, many more girls would have died,” said Rohit Kant, a lawyer.

Matchmaker G S Kapoor said he often comes across unmarried men in their 40s. “Some of them have compromised on caste and community over the years but to no avail. Subtle rise in the number of anti-dowry families is more due to the ‘unavailability of brides’ than any consciousness,” he said.

The disturbed male and female ratio is the root of the many problems girls face in their daily lives. “Crime against women, especially rape and acid attacks are closely linked to this low female ratio” said Madhu Garg, a social activist.

Falling Sex Ratio: Himachal Pradesh among 10 worst states


State health minister Kaul Singh Thakur said that immediate steps are needed to arrest the trend.

Written by Ashwani Sharma | Shimla | Published on:March 26, 2015 10:45 pm

Himachal Pradesh has now been bracketed among the 10 states having the worst sex ratio in the country. The State government shared its concern on the situation, as healthminister Kaul Singh Thakur said that immediate steps are needed to arrest the trend.

According to Thakur, 24 panchayats in Una district, bordering Punjab, has a child sex ratio (0-6) below 500. The overall sex ratio of 875 /1000 in the district, is also lowest in Himachal Pradesh and needs immediate steps to arrest the trend.

Thakur was replying in the state assembly during question hour when Una Congress MLA Kuldeep Kumar and BJP MLA Ravinder Ravi had drawn his attention towards the issue and wanted to know the reasons why Himachal Pradesh was fast slipping into the category of states having lowsex ratio.

Kuldeep Kumar pointed out that two gram panchayats of Una have sex ratio as lowas 111 and 167 respectively. The NationalHuman Rights Commission (NHRC) had already sent notice to the state governmentseeking a report on the subject.

The healthminister confirmed that sex ratio of 24 gram panchayats was very lowand state governmenthas taken notice of it. After NHRC’s notice, the Supreme Court  has also taken cognizance of the alarming situation. The state governmenthas submitted its report informing the NHRC aboutthe steps being taken.

He informed that an owner of an ultra-sound unit has been convicted under PC & PNDT Act. The accused has also been sentenced to one year imprisonment, and slapped a fine of Rs 10,000. Moreover, a state level monitoring committee has been constituted.

However Ravi and former healthminister Rajeev Bindal (BJP) raised their concern on slow implementation of Mother Tracking scheme and lack of interstates co-ordination to address the issue.

Here, Thakur sought cooperation of the elected representative to tackle the problemand advised them not to put pressure on the medicalauthorities to withdraw action against those having non-registered Ultra-sound units. The powers have now been delegated to block medicalofficers to seal and confiscate similar illegal units. There are 260 workingultrasound units including 86 in the State and 174in the private sector.

The minister said that an incentive scheme for the panchayats have been announced to reward those having bestsex ratio and the others, having lowsex ratio, will be punished by denying development grants. Incentive for the familyhaving single girl child or two girls will be raised to Rs 40,000, which could be deposited in the fixed Bank account of the child.

The state governmenthas written to healthauthorities in Punjab to conduct joint raids and inspections as part of a drive to check the illegal ultrasound centeralluring people of Una and other borderdistricts with Punjab.

The state have overall sex ratio of 909 against 1000 female as Una district have 875, Kangra-876, Hamirpur-887, Solan-899, Bilaspur-900, Mandi-916, Shimla-925, Sirmaur-928, Chamba- 953, Kullu-962, Kinnuar-963 and Lahaul Spiti-1033, according to Thakur.

Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal suggested to the minister if the public representatives had indulged in unlawful practice and interference with the legal process, the state governmentshould act against them.


Tamil Nadu – Declining sex ratio at birth reveals a worrisome trend

MADURAI: Yet another Women’s Day is being celebrated across the world on Sunday and although there is increased awareness on women’s rights, things on the sex ratio at birth (SRB) front are not really on the positive side in most parts of Tamil Nadu. According to a data obtained from the office of the registrar general, ministry of home affairs, vital statistics division, Tamil Nadu’s SRB is 905 girls as against 1000 boys.

“As per the civil registration system, the sex ratio at birth in Tamil Nadu in 2011 was only 905. Birth registration data is reliable to infer the intensity of gender biased sex elimination, as the state claims that 99.6% of the births are being registered in Tamil Nadu. Thus, in 2011 alone, there is a deficit of 28,458 girls, eliminated by unethical doctors,” says P Phavalam of Campaign Against Sex Selective Abortion (CASSA), a non-governmental organization.

Though the state government has shown marginal increase in child sex ratio from 942 to 946 girls against 1,000 boys in 2001, 2011 census data; the sex ratio at birth steadily declines pointing out that many girl foetuses are aborted. “It is no more female infanticide but female foeticide because many parents who indulged in infanticide faced punishment, but not many scan centres or clinics which were part of sex identification and aided in abortions of girl babies managed to escape,” she pointed out.

Fittingly, 30-year-old Rani (name changed) from Usilampatti is expecting her third child, a boy in few more days. After two girl children, the conservative family desperately wanted a male heir and Rani had to undergo three abortions earlier when they identified them as female foetuses with help of a scan centre – which the family does not want to reveal for obvious reasons. “I had to abort three of my pregnancies when they were found to be female foetuses. Now it is a boy and my family is happy,” she said.

The craze for a male heir does not spare even childless couple opting for artificial reproduction technology (ART). “It is a mindset of our society craving for male babies and there will not be much change until there is change in our socio-cultural elements. Even in normal pregnancy we see many couples get pregnant third or fourth time just because they want a male baby,” said a leading ART specialist in the city.

Childless couples after many years of social ridicule don’t mind about the gender of a child. “But the couples who come for a second baby through ART especially the ones with girl child as first born will ask for male babies,” said another ART specialist.

#India – Child Sex Ratio worsens- Fewer children born each year


Couples are choosing to restrict size of their families: data

The number of children born every year is slowing rapidly in India, but the slowdown is faster for girl babies than for boy babies, new data from the 2011 Census shows.

While India’s poor sex ratio for children under the age of six is well-known, data released by the office of the Registrar-General of India on Monday gives an indication of the situation at the time of birth. Just under 2.1 crore children were born in 2010, the year before the latest Census was conducted. In the year 2000 in comparison, 1.98 crore children were born. However, the growth in the number of male children born was higher at 5.44 per cent, while the growth in the number of girls born was far lower at 4.69 per cent. The sex ratio at birth as a result was slightly worse in 2011 than it was in 2001.

The numbers also clearly indicate that couples are choosing to restrict the size of their families; nearly half of the children born in 2000 were the third, fourth, fifth and so on in the family. In 2011, just a third of children born in the preceding year were the family’s third, fourth, fifth or so on children. In fact, the absolute number of first and second-borns only increased between 2000 and 2010, while the number of later-born children declined.

The two processes — declining size of families and preference for male children — are going on simultaneously, Dr. P. Arokiasamy, noted demographer and fertility trends expert and Professor at the Mumbai-based International Institute for Population Sciences, told The Hindu. “Fertility is declining faster than expected in India, and when fertility declines, we see an increase in the intensity of preference for male children,” he said. This can be through sex-selective abortion, or the ‘stopping principle’, where families stop having children as soon as they’ve had a boy, Dr. Arokiasamy explained.

And here’s the second chart: 

In a given year, a child born to a woman under the age of 24 is most likely to be her first child, and one born to a woman aged 25-40 her second child. In 2001 in contrast, a child born to a woman in the age group 30-34 was most likely to be her third child, and one born to a woman aged 35 to 39 was most likely to be her fourth child, the Census numbers show.

The data also shows that just 2 per cent of women under the age of 18 are now married in India. Statistics on marriage released showed that 72 lakh people under the age of 18 were married as of 2011, 70 per cent of them girls.


#India – Sex ratio slides as mom’s age goes up

NEW DELHI: Child sex selection seems to go up as the age of the mother does, just released data from Census 2011 shows. The sex ratio among children born to young mothers in the 15-19 age group was the highest after which there was a steady decline till the 45-49 age group. This pattern held true across the country with no exception seen in any state, whether in rural or urban areas.

The latest census data on births that happened in the year preceding the survey, showed that the ratio of the number of girls to 1,000 boys, born to mothers in the 15-19 age group was 938, way higher than the sex ratio of 899 for all children born during the year.

Almost 21 million or about 2.08 crore children were born in the year before the census survey. The data showed that the sex ratio declined as the age of the mothers increased, falling from a sex ratio of 927 and 897 in the 20-24 and the 25-29 age groups respectively to just 856 and 824 in the 40-44 and 45-49 age group.

Since natural causes cannot explain this pattern, it appears that this could be because in the younger age group, where many of the children would be first-borns, there would be greater tolerance for girl children. But with advancing birth order and age of the mother, the pressure to produce a son would increase and hence there were greater chances of families doing away with female babies. Interestingly, even in states with the best sex ratios, this pattern of a steep decline in the ratio with increasing age of the mother held true.

Almost 63% of the children born were to mothers between the ages 20-29, the most productive ages. Children born to mothers beyond 30 years of age accounted for just 30.7%. However, despite children born to mothers in the 20-29 age group having a better sex ratio than children born to older mothers, it affected the overall sex ratio pulling it down significantly.

The sex ratio jumped to 883 in the 50+ age group. But the nearly two lakh children born to mothers aged 50 years and more constituted barely 1% of the total children born. Children born to mothers less than 15 years of age also had a sex ratio of 881, similar to those born to mothers aged 50+. However, only about 59,000 children were born to mothers less than 15 years and accounted for a meagre 0.3%. Both these groups, therefore, did not significantly affect the overall numbers

Contrived Confusions No Contradictions Between PCPNDT and MTP Acts

Ethical dilemmas surrounding abortion, particularly the conflict between human and legal rights of a childbearing woman and the so-called rights of an unborn child, are quite legitimate. However, the pro-life activists should desist from treating a woman as mere receptacle for the unborn child, taking away her inalienable right to control her own body.

Vandana Prasad is with the Public Health Resource Network.

In the first week of December 2014, participants of a large rally at Jantar Mantar against cuts in social sector spending were shocked to see an anti-abortion stall with a banner titled “Delhi Commission for Women, Archdiocese of Delhi”, suggesting a partnership between the orthodox religious organisation and the Delhi Commission for Women. The stall housed posters that seamlessly mixed up issues of sex-selective abortion with pro-life stands against abortion per se. As it transpired, the religious organisation itself claimed a commission for women that was leading an exercise many would find anti-women’s rights, and which caused such public confusion. Notwithstanding, the more important unresolved issue is the confusion that seems to prevail in government and civil society both between the intention of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques  (PCPNDT) Act, and the Medical Termination Of Pregnancy MTP Act, 1971, and which is being exploited by many “pro-life” organisations of all religious hues to rouse public support against the legal entitlement of abortion.

While no one might argue in favour of abortion as a desirable method of family planning or contraception from the public health perspective, safe abortion is considered a significant reproductive right of women and is upheld as a pillar of reproductive health services by the progressive countries of the world. This is specially the case in countries like India, where women often do not have the power within the family to determine when and how they might be pregnant. Further, as the recent tragedy in the Chhattisgarh sterilisation camps also demonstrates, there is a high unmet need for decent contraceptive services on the supply side that prevent women from accessing their choice of contraception. Unsafe abortions contribute significantly to maternal mortality, and it has been proved that having legislations permitting abortion prevents unsafe abortions and brings down maternal mortality.

Basic Right of a Woman vs Rights of a Unborn Child

Certainly, from the point of view of human rights, at first sight, there does appear to be some conflict between the rights of women to be allowed to determine whether to house a pregnancy in their bodies and the so-called rights of the “unborn child”. However, as correctly argued by feminists, the rights of the woman are to be given precedence as an “existing” human being as against the rights of a child that does not yet exist as an independent fully functional being. In other words, the foetus does not have rights.

Taking all these factors into account the right to safe abortion has been accorded to women after much struggle by women’s rights groups, by the law of the land as per the MTP ACT, which now stands to be amended with the intention to allow greater access to the highly neglected services for safe abortion.

The MTP Act permits abortions in certain conditions up to the 20th week of gestation, while fetuses beyond 37 weeks are considered “mature” for independent existence. This leaves a fair amount of time  between the permission for abortion and the consideration of the foetus as having the potential to live. However, this is somewhat confounded by the fact that modern science is able to save neonates born at gestations much preceding 37 weeks; as young as 28 week-old fetuses (7th month of pregnancy) may be kept alive with modern technology using ventilators, parenteral feeding etc. This narrows and blurs this boundary area somewhat in the minds of people applying a humanitarian rather than a legal perspective to the issue.

Nonetheless, the right to abortion must be differentiated from the laws against sex discrimination that are in no way in contradiction to each other. There is no conflict between the PCPNDT Act and the MTP Act. The MTP Act allows abortion, while the PCPNDT forbids pre-natal sex determination to stop female foeticide. By conflating the two, confusion is being created in the minds of the public against a basic right of women.

Even government posters for “awareness generation” of the public with respect to sex determination have been found to use the terminology of “bhroon hatya” or “foeticide” rather than “abortion” – a term that indicates a homicidal criminal activity of taking “a life”. Our engagements with the general public as well as public health activists as “trainers” reveals the depth of confusion caused when people are questioned on why the foeticide of a male foetus is acceptable but not a female one and whether there is some discrimination at play here with respect to the rights of the child.

Act of Abortion

Of course, the question itself is incorrectly premised; the only thing that is illegal, within the prescriptions of the MTP Act and the PCPNDT Act, is determining the sex of the foetus (in this context, prior to abortion). It is entirely a social construct that causes female fetuses to be selectively aborted, therefore creating a link with the falling sex ratios in our country. The aborted fetus may be male or female—as long as it is not known prior to the act of abortion and as long as the sex of the fetus is not permitted to influence the decision of abortion. A pregnancy may be continued or aborted as per the provisions of the MTP Act, and this must happen irrespective of sex determination, as pronounced by the PCPNDT Act.

While the government may be working from ignorance or carelessness, the pro-life groups have used this confusion to attack the act of abortion per se, raising slogans such as “one life is taken and another harmed”. While these groups have the freedom to take an anti-abortion stance, the government must be more careful to stand by the current laws of the land and eschew the term “female foeticide” entirely in its documents and public media.

It is hoped that people grappling with the legitimate ethical paradox between the rights (legal and human) of the child-bearing woman and the humanitarian concerns for unborn children will take into consideration the background arguments and factual legal elements, and arrive at a balanced view that safeguards against women being treated as passive hosts of unborn children. At the very least, such an exercise must not be carried out under the pretext of “saving the girl child”, who is neither to be selectively saved nor destroyed.


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