From womb to bin


Vinay Sarawagi | May 5, 2012, TimesCrest

 

UNWANTED: Officials argue that the crackdown on ultrasounds is leading to more cases of abandonment of female infants

On Thursday, a newborn girl dumped in a garbage bin in Gurgaon two weeks ago died at a government hospital in Rohtak. The girl had been bitten by mosquitoes and dogs. This isn’t a stray case. In the last one month, more than 15 instances of newborn girls being dumped have been reported in Haryana.

“No one wants a girl in Haryana, “says the manager of a government-run childcare centre. “Even those who come to adopt babies seek boys. “The observation is backed by data: the state’s child sex ratio is the lowest in the country. For every 1, 000 boys registered at birth, there are just 830 girls, according to Census 2011.

While female foeticide is an old evil in Haryana’s patriarchal society, abandonment of newborn girls is a recent trend. “We are getting such cases almost daily, “says Dr Narvir Singh, director general of health services, Haryana.

However, Sabu George, who has been actively campaigning against the practice of sex selection for more than two decades, says the media has turned undue spotlight on abandonment.

“Abandonment is a small problem compared to sex selection, which was responsible for seven million female foeticides in the last decade alone, “George says. “Abandonment cases are isolated. It’s convenient for everybody to highlight them because then questions on prevalence of sex selection don’t get asked. An abandoned baby has some chances of survival, but sex selection is murder. ”

He says the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act, 1994 is not being strictly implemented in Haryana. “It’s very easy to find out the sex of a foetus and the doctors get away with almost anything, “George says.

After Census 2011 placed Haryana at the bottom of the sex-ratio list, the state government launched an ambitious plan to map all ultrasound machines, especially in villages that fared the worst. Since the drive started, the authorities say 70 cases have been filed under the PNDT Act, 1994, leading to legal action against 30 people, including 25 doctors. Under the districtlevel Sex Ratio Improvement Programme, 177 illegal ultrasound machines have been seized and the licences of 327 ultrasound centres have been cancelled. Tightening the noose around the sex selection trade, unfortunately, may lead to a rise in the cases of abandonment, fears Singh.

The way out, say experts, is through education. “To provide dignity to the girl child, law and society need to work in tandem. The law needs to be supplemented with advocacy for social change, “says Jitendra Nagpal, psychiatrist, Moolchand Medcity Hospital, Delhi. “Gender stabilization should become the hallmark of progress. We need to address it with more urgency than economic growth. “

HALL OF SHAME 

Three abandoned baby girls are undergoing treatment at PGIMS in Rohtak.

In the last two weeks, four such babies have been admitted to the hospital

On April 18, an infant with multiple infections was rushed here after she was found abandoned in a park in Bhiwani. She is recuperating

On April 23, a three-day-old girl with acute liver infection was admitted to PGIMS. Her condition remains critical

On April 27, a baby girl, who was found near a bus stand of Dharuhera town was taken to hospital. Her condition is stable A baby girl was delivered in the toilet of the PGIMS and then left there

Last month, an abandoned baby girl was found in Sonipat and bodies of two newborn girls were recovered from a garbage dump in Ambala.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Acid attacks: Haryana women face new form of assault « kracktivist

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