Dr Gauri Rathod, Beed official fights to save girl child

LONE RANGER: Despite regular threatening calls and letters, civil surgeon Dr Gauri Rathod continues her crusade against  sex selection

, TNN | Jun 9, 2012

BEED: The local authorities in Beed have drawn battle lines with the medical community here over the issue of sex selection . And leading the administration’s assault is civil surgeon Dr Gauri Rathod, who, despite threats, political pressure and little support from the community, has vowed to wipe out the scourge from the area.

The 45-year-old doctor took charge in the district, which has the lowest child sex ratio in Maharashtra, about 11 months ago. She was at first reluctant to accept the posting and refrained from joining for about two weeks. But news reports of female feotuses being found at Parli taluka in Beed in 2011 made Rathod change her mind.

She explains that, over the years, Beed has become something akin to a tertiary centre for killing female foetuses. “Everything here was synchronized. The arrangement has clearly evolved over the years,” says the mother of 12-year-old twins, a boy and a girl.

When local lawyers showed reluctance in following her lead, Rathod hired a lawyer from Mumbai at her own expense and got conviction in a PCPNDT violation case last year. She says that she takes every precaution to see that no innocent doctors is harassed. Rathod, who also holds a management degree from the Tata Institute of Social Science, says many government officials are unwilling to work in Beed. “There is an opium mafia, sand mafia and not to mention local goons, who anyone can hire.” For her, threatening calls and letters have become a regular occurrence.

On Wednesday, she filed a complaint with the police over a threat from Dr Srihari Lahane, who has been arrested for allegedly conducting illegal abortions. She recollects an incident that took place a few days after she got uniforms sanctioned for staffers at the civil hospital last year. “I got a letter which said that I may be distributing clothes but I will soon have to think about ‘kafan’ for my children. I broke down, but my staffers stood by me and made me file a police complaint.”

There have been other attempts to derail her crusade.

Malicious doctors, she says, tried disposing of “foetuses in the dustbins of civil hospital”. Besides this, “umpteen RTI pleas have been filed and continue to be filed asking for information about my education, work experience, ultrasonography cases in civil hospital, etc. almost every alternate day. They just keep looking for loopholes”. Rathod recently gave up her financial powers so that allegations of misappropriation cannot be cast against her.

Still, despite her efforts, Rathod feels the government is fighting a losing battle. “Our enemy here is not a handful doctors but the community that refuses to accept the girl child. The irony is that corporators from a political party announced a hunger strike against me for harassing doctors. What is worse is that these are female corporators.”


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Medical council suspends 13 docs over sex tests « Forum against Sex Selection (FASS)

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