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


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.

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.


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


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


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.

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.

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)

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.


2 female foetuses found dumped in Gujarat

Palanpur: Two cases of sex selection  have come to notice in a span of two days in north Gujarat, police said on Sunday.

A female foetus was recovered from an open plot belonging to a trust in Nawa Sudasna village in Mehsana district on Sunday.

Dasarathsinh Paramar, who noticed the foetus and informed the police, said it seemed that someone had thrown it there after getting rid of an unwanted girl child. Police said a case has been registered and investigations begun.

Police sub-inspector J B Acharya of Wagdod police station in Patan district said that a newborn girl child was found buried near Koita village on Saturday. The body was exhumed and sent to Dharpur hospital in Patan for postmortem. Acharya said the postmortem report was awaited to ascertain real reason behind the baby’s death, adding that investigations in the case were on.

Just a week ago, a girl child was found abandoned outside the women rescue home of Palanpur in Banaskantha district.

Himachal Pradesh – Panchayat bhawans to display child sex ratio

  • Panchayat bhawans to display gender ratio

Deputy Commissioner Abhishek Jain launches ‘Guddi-Gudda’ scrolls to be put up in all panchayats of the district in Hamirpur on Thursday. Photo: Rajesh Sharma

Our Correspondent

Una, June 11

With a view to reversing the trend of declining child sex ratio in Una district, the administration has decided to put up ‘Guddi-Gudda’ scrolls in all 235 panchayat bhawans. The boards will display the number of female and male infants born during the month in the panchayat, with the cumulative annual figures displayed along with it. 

Deputy Commissioner Abhishek Jain today unveiled the scrolls at a district-level review programme of the Mother and Child Development Department at Bachat Bhawan. He said these scrolls would serve as a deterrent against the declining sex ratio in panchayats showing negative trends. Besides, these would be a source of encouragement to panchayats showing positive trends. 

According to the 2011 Census, Una district had an overall sex ratio of 974 females against 1,000 males. However, the child sex ratio, which indicates the number of girls to boys in the 0 to 6 years age group was 906, pointing towards gender bias and selective termination of pregnancies. 

According to the census, the child sex ratio in different district of the state was 1,013 in Lahul and Spiti, 962 in Kullu, 953 in Kinnaur, 950 in Chamba, 931 in Sirmaur, 922 in Shimla, 913 in Mandi, 899 in Solan, 893 in Bilaspur, 881 in Hamirpur, 873 in Kangra and 870 in Una. Una district also figures among the 100 districts of the country having the lowest sex ratio.

Prompted by the trends, the Union Ministry of Mother and Child Development launched the ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’ Flagship Mission programme and the Deputy Commissioner, along with health officials, were called in Chandigarh to participate in a mission workshop a few months ago, which was chaired by Maneka Gandhi.The union ministry later sanctioned a project estimated at Rs 36.34 lakh under the Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao programme for Una district to tackle the social issue.

The project includes components like Inter Sectoral Consultation meetings, training and capacity building of stakeholders, innovation and awareness generation activities, besides community mobilization and outreach activities. Una SDM Dhanvir Thakur, Chief Medical Officer GR Kaushal and Programme Officer of the Mother and Child Development Department Ranjit Singh were also present.

Beed Doctor Couple accused of sex selection, get 6 years in prison

Mumbai Mirror BureauA doctor couple from Beed accused of killing several female foetuses was sentenced to six years imprisonment and fined Rs 80,000 each by a court in Ambejogai on Monday. While two more cases are still pending against Dr Sudam Munde and his wife Saraswati, the conviction was announced in a 2010 case of a decoy operation in which the couple was caught red handed revealing sex of the unborn baby.”This is 19th conviction (in decoy operations) for us,” said Varsha Deshpande, a girl child activist with Lek Ladki Abhiyan, an NGO that has conducted the 2010 decoy operation by sending a pregnant woman to the couple’s Beed hospital. While Munde has been in jail since 2012, his wife Saraswati was out on bail. “The court cancelled her bail with immediate effect. She was taken into custody by the police on Monday,” said Deshpande.

While the sting operation by Lek Ladki Abhiyan was the first to expose the wrong doings of the doctor couple, two other cases – a 2011 case wherein 15 female feotuses were found disposed of in a well on the field owned by Dr Munde and the second case of 2012 wherein a sugarcane worker Vijaymala Patekar died after undergoing an illegal abortion in the second trimester – are still pending against them. “We are expecting seven years imprisonment in the first case and life imprisonment in the second one,” said Deshpande.

Son- desire makes woman give birth to 15 girls #Downwithpatriarchy

Sethaanibai and her daughters at Sindhol thanda in Bidar taluk, Karnataka.

Sethaanibai and her daughters at Sindhol thanda in Bidar taluk, Karnataka.

There could not be a story more tragic than this to highlight the plight of the girl child in a country where the yearning for male children has led to rampant female foeticide, a gender bias in all fields and harassment.

The desire for a male child made a Lambani woman at Sindhol Thanda in Bidar taluk give birth to as many as 15 girl children, one each year for the last 15 years. Of these 15, six children died after birth while the remaining nine are alive.

But the abject poverty and the failure to deliver a male child made Sethaanibai desert her 15th child she delivered at a local government hospital on June 11.

Her husband Govardhan Rathod works as a coolie in Mumbai. The couple have no land of their own in the Thanda. Sethaanibai ekes out a living as a coolie. She has already married off her three elder daughters, the remaining children supplement her income working as coolies.

“I have given birth to so many children in the hope of getting a male child. I’m so ashamed to give birth again to a female, I did not even look at its face and left it in the hospital”, she says. She regrets that due to poverty she has not been able to look after her children and give them education. “With great difficulty I got my three daughters married off, the last one was done with donations collected from community members in the Thanda. I left my last child in the hospital as I do not have the resources to raise her. So far I have not got any benefit from the government, I appeal to them to come to my rescue,” Sethaanibai pleads.

On coming to know about her plight, officials of the department of women and child welfare visited the village. Besides promising to lend `1 lakh for rearing cattle to support her family, the officials have decided to get her seven-year-old daughter into a hostel.

The officials have reportedly convinced Sethaanibai that she should undergo tubectomy. However, she has informed them that she will take a final decision after obtaining the consent of her husband who is now in Mumbai.

According to Child Welfare Committee member Shashidhar Kosambe, the 15th child weighing about 3.5 kg is quite healthy. “She is in our custody, we will soon hand it over to the Child Adoption Centre at Kardyaal”, he added.

Maharashtra Govt’s scheme for girl child yet to see daylight

Monday, 15 June 2015 – 6:11am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna | From the print edition

Desperate to have a son , Mumbai couple are parents at 60 via IVF


Mumbai couple that turned parents at 60 via IVF juggle ecstasy and ethical dilemmas 35 days into nurturing their first-born.It’s 39 degrees on a Friday morning in Vond village of Bhachau in Kutch district, Gujarat. The rains have been playing characteristically truant. In a courtyard canopied by jamun trees lies a cot lined by a lived-in cotton razai. A bundle of white mul sits at its centre, a box of pendas lying to one side. Suddenly, there’s movement.

As if in sync, four women who up until then have been sharing a leisurely chat, spring to their feet. One reverentially lifts the mul. Punjiben Patel’s 25-day-old son has risen from his siesta.


Mumbai couple that turned parents at 60 via IVF, juggle surprise, ecstacy and ethical dilemmas 35 days into nurturing their ‘miracle’.

“Maaro dikro, maaro Nandlal,” she coos, holding him up, his plump cheek pressed against hers. The smothering is warranted.

Punjiben became a mother for the first time at 60, 15 years after menopause pulled the plug on her hope to conceive. On May 30, she delivered a healthy baby boy weighing 3.9 kg at Ahmedabadbased IVF specialist Dr Mehul Damani’s clinic. Back in their village, she and husband Ranchhodbhai have been playing host to a relentless stream of visitors keen to meet the miracle baby. Among them is Dimple Premji Patel, an 18-year-old Class 12 student, excited to meet her newborn ‘uncle’. Daughter to Ranchhodbhai’s cousin, Premji Patel, she laughs, “He isn’t just my kaka. Ranchhod kaka’s grand niece was born just the other day, which makes this little one a nana (grandfather) too!”

The family tree synchrony spoiled by age is hardly a concern for the Patels. What is, is what the baby should be named. It’s Jeth month, a time of darkness, which is why Punjiben has decided to name him post-Amavasya when Ashadi Beej sets in. “Then it will be light again,” one of the visitors say in approval.

“We might name him Rudra,” Dimple interrupts, referring to a name for Lord Shiva. “After all, he is god’s gift.”

A neighbour walks in with a plastic bag that carries new clothes for the baby. She places the gift beside him on a cot, her time-worn fingers fiddling with his little fist. Startled, the baby lets out a cry. The women laugh, handing him over to Punjiben, who breastfeeds him.

This is one of many surprises in Punjiben’s case that Dr Damani has been pondering over. “Rarely are IVF mothers able to produce breastmilk due to low hormone levels,” he says of his oldest patient. “The Patels had made the rounds of a string of doctors but hadn’t considered invitro fertilisation (IVF). When she first came to me in 2014, she was menopausal. But she conceived in the very first cycle. Usually, it takes at least three attempts.”

What Dr Damani considers a problem arising out of poor quality eggs or blocked fallopian tubes was compounded by Ranchhodbhai’s profession. As a plumber with a firm in Dubai, he’d come back home to Punjiben, who he married in 1982, only two months of the year. But in an attempt to give starting a family his best shot, he relocated to Mumbai in 1989, staying with Punjiben at their Vashi home, while a hardware shop he set up in partnership with a friend kept the home fires burning. “We have visited so many specialists, I’ve lost count. Doctors in Ghatkopar, Andheri, Bhuj, Anjar…Homeopathy, allopathy, Ayurveda, we tried it all,” says the 65-year-old. Finally, dejected, the two decided to move to Vond in 2006.

What they couldn’t abandon was hope. Spirituality was their refuge. Punjiben, together with family, trekked to their kuldevi’s temple in Pavagadh, a hill station near Baroda, vowing to renounce footwear for six months. A year passed by with no results. “I resolved to continue walking barefoot. Even when we travelled to as far as Kerala and Bihar, I wore no chappals. I even worked in our fields without them. Now that my baby is here, I have given up my ‘baadha’. But habits die hard. I keep forgetting to wear them,” she giggles.

It was a neighbour in Mumbai, who managed to conceive after 20 years, who suggested the couple try IVF. “After menopause, the uterus shrinks due to hormone deprivation, from about 8 cm to 6 cm. The endometrium lining of 6 mm thins to 1 mm. Punjiben was put on a high dose of progestrone to kickstart menstruation. We had to regularise the endometrium or the inner membrane of the uterus. This required a combination of oestrogen and progesterone pills. It developed well despite her age, and she started menstruating. The uterus was responding,” Dr Damani shares.

Since a woman produces a limited supply of healthy eggs in her lifetime, a donor egg was fertilised with Ranchhodbhai’s sperm in an embryology laboratory. “We transferred three embryos into her uterus, and surprisingly, we hit success immediately,” he says.

The string of surprises has made Punjiben call her baby Lord Krishna’s avatar. “Despite my age, I had no problem during pregnancy. Even now, look at him. He is far from troublesome. He eats and sleeps on time,” she smiles as Premji’s wife Puriben hovers around to take the baby for a bath.

Punjiben, who never went to school, didn’t need parenting books. In a reversal of norms, she learnt the tricks from younger women around her. “One of our daughters-in-law was pregnant the same time my pregnancy was confirmed. I observed how she took care of herself and did the same. I rested at home, refusing to step out to buy supplies or visit relatives. People around began whispering about my strange behaviour. When the fifth month sonography revealed the baby’s form, we finally shared the news. The villagers went crazy. Women streamed into my home, offering help. It’s been easy,” she says, watching Puriben dress the child.

While the ethical questions surrounding the rising age of first motherhood fuelled by a burgeoning fertility industry continue to be raised, Dr Damani says he is willing to help a couple give parenting a shot irrespective of age, provided the mother is mentally and physically fit, and the couple is financially sound.

“Legally, there is no age restriction for IVF, but sometimes, we refuse treatment to mothers suffering from hypertension or cardiac problems. What’s vital is considering every case individually,” he says.

Dr Hrishikesh Pai, president of the Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction, says five per cent of his clients are women aged 40 to 50. The inability to land the right partner, pre-mature menopause and low levels of anti-mullerian hormone, which is indicative of the egg pool, are cited as chief reasons for late first motherhood. “After 45, pregnant women risk post-partum haemorrhage and pregnancy induced hypertension. As long as the donor egg is from a younger woman, the child is unlikely to be affected. However, if the mother suffers from diabetes or hypertension, there are chances of premature delivery or growth retardation,” he explains.

While adoption is not an option after 45, for the moment, women can give IVF a shot irrespective of age. However, this is about to change, says Pai. “The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is in the process of framing regulations to lock an upper age limit of 53 for women undergoing IVF, irrespective of the method used.”

Currently, ICMR allows a maximum of three embryos to be placed in the uterus. “But, if the patient has twins or triplets, the pregnancy can get complicated and the chance of premature birth is high. In Scandinavian countries, only one embryo can be inserted at a time,” says Pai. “What we need is self-regulation. There was a time when specialists were driven by the challenge of managing a pregnancy at an impossible age. Now, we need to consider additional factors.” – Inputs by Gitanjali Chandrasekharan

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