Women activists oppose radiologists on the PCPCNDT ACT

We the undersigned representatives of women’s and civil society organizations as well as activists express our deep concern about the fact that sonologists and radiologists have called for a nationwide strike from the 1st of September to press for their demand for amendments to the PcPNDT Act.

An amendment to the law at this stage will not only weaken the PC-PNDT Act but also defeat the purpose of Government of India’s flagship programme – Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) that was launched in January 2015. The proposed amendments being pushed by the medical Associations would allow tens of thousands of medical professionals to continue profiteering from gender-biased sex selection and escape criminal prosecution.

The Child Sex Ratio (CSR) in the age group 0-6 years has been continuously declining since 1981.  According to one estimate, on an average 4.56 lakh girls went missing at birth every year during the period 2001-12. The Sample Registration Survey (SRS) Statistical Report -2013 released by the Census of India in 2015 shows the same adverse trend at birth for most of the states. The Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) was found to be 864 for Haryana, 867 for Punjab, 902 for J&K, 893 for Rajasthan, 911 for Gujarat, 902 for Maharashtra, and 878 for Uttar Pradesh (2011-13).

The Government of India passed the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC-PNDT) Act in 1994 to contain gender-biased sex selection but its implementation remained on paper for several years. On the other hand misuse of technology such as ultrasonography multiplied. And as a result, the heinous practice of gender-biased sex selection continued and made inroads into several parts of the country. It was only after the intervention of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in 2001 that measures and necessary structures for the implementation of the PC-PNDT Act were initiated, and registration of ultrasound centres was started.

However, the recent Census clearly highlights the fact that gender-biased sex selection is still rampant and the situation demands stringent and more accountable implementation of the PC-PNDT Act. The present Act is adequate to create deterrence and deal with the crime of gender-biased sex selection as is evident in the states of Maharashtra and Haryana. Medical professionals indulging in the illegal and unethical practice of gender-biased sex selection have started facing the brunt and recently more than 70 doctors have been convicted under the Act.

Unfortunately, there is a powerful medical lobby which has been pushing to undermine the PC-PNDT Act by opposing its implementation and demanding amendments to certain Sections and Rules of the Act. Regrettably, pressure is also being built by the professional medical Associations on the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India to dilute the strong provisions of the present Act.

We therefore strongly appeal to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that there should be no amendments to the present PC-PNDT Act. In a situation where SRB and CSR are not in favour of girls, the medical profession should be proactively engaged on the issue. The Associations should support the implementation of the Act in its present form and expose those errant medical professionals who are indulging in the practice of gender-biased sex selection.

Our Demands:

No amendment to the present PC-PNDT Act.
Strict implementation of the present Act at block, district, state level.

Kiran Moghe, Sonya Gill – Akhil Bharatiya Janwadi Mahila Sanghatana, Anagha Sarpotdar, Dr. Manisha Gupte – MASUM, Shanta Ranade, Lata Bhise Sonavane – Bharatiya Mahila Federation, Adv . Kamayani Bali Mahabal – Forum against Sex Selection, Adv Assunta Pardhe – Chetna Mahila Vikas Manch, Medha Kale, Achut Borgaonkar – Tathapi, Anand Pawar, Preet – Samyak, Adv. Rama Sarode, Alka Joshi – Abhivyakti, Dr. Nadi Palshikar, Adv. Julie George – Streevani, Purnima Chikkarmane – Kagad Kach Patra Kashtkari Panchayat, Aalochana, Adv Vaishali Bhandwalkar – Bhatke Vimukt Mahila Adhikar Andolan, Nagmani Rao – Shramik Mukti Dal Lokshahiwadi, Sunita Sheel, Sanyogita Dhamdhere, Sadhana Khati and others

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