#India – Time limit of abortions raised to nine weeks #MTP

New Delhi |April  26 Friday, 2013 5:36:05 PM IST

The time limit for abortions has been increased from seven to nine weeks to facilitate family planning, the Drug Controller General of India has said.

Nozer Sherian, secretary general of the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies (FOGSI), said here Friday: “The Drug Controller General has increased the time limit of abortions to 63 days, that is nine weeks.”

In the last two years, 332,000 medical abortions were carried out, which show that if given a choice, women want to limit their families.

“This is very important as around eight percent of maternal deaths take place due to unsafe abortions,” he said.

FOGSI is promoting medical abortions along with Interuterine Medical Devices (IUD) to help people plan their families.

Hema Diwakar, president of FOGSI, said that women are now given a choice of post-placental IUD as soon as they give birth.

The family planning initiative taken up by the FOGSI and the Population Services International (PSI) is called ‘Pehel’. It is run mostly in urban slums.

It covers 30 districts in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. Ten additional districts in these three states would be covered in the next phase.

“Pehel Phase 3 will continue to complement the government’s efforts to reduce maternal mortality and increase the contraceptive prevalence rate,” said Pritpal Marjara, director of PSI.

According to government data, every year about 78,000 women die during pregnancy, child birth or within 43 days of delivery in India.

Indo-Asian News Service spc/rt/tb


Verse case scenario

Syeda Hameed | February 11, 2012

 Sufi poetry could inspire a change in attitudes to the girl child.

Maulana Altaf Husain Hali was born in Panipat in 1837. Panipat was then the centre of Sufi thought, whose leading light in India was Bu Ali Shah Qalandar. Like most poets Hali began writing on themes of love and nature, but soon decided to use his poetry as a vehicle for social reform. What saddened him the most were two pervasive ills: oppression of women and girl children, and the reduced state of the Muslim community. Like most non-conformists, Hali’s poetic corpus met with initial skepticism, even open disdain. His rejection of traditional themes and conventional language was derided by other elite poets of the time. Hali had chosen to write for the masses in a language that was a blend of Urdu and Hindi. Such non-embellished, often clearly feminist poetry was deemed unworthy both in theme and expression. Interestingly, in his Young India, Mahatma Gandhi struck a different note. He famously wrote that if anyone wanted to learn the “real language” of India, which was neither pure Hindi nor pure Urdu, the best example was Hali’s ‘Munajat-e-Bewa’ or ‘Lament of the Widow. ‘ He called it a ‘model language’ for a new India.

It was a bright winter morning when our President stood in Hali Maidan, Panipat, a couple of weeks ago, and expressed her pain at our declining child sex ratio – as reflected in the steep drop seen in the last decade. She challenged Haryana, a state which has terribly low overall sex ratios, to become the leader not only in India, but in the world, considering that only 150 years ago their very own poet wrote these lines that gave women pride of place: Ai maon, behnon, betiyon duniya ki zeenat tumse hai, Mulkon ki basti ho tumhin, qaumon ki izaat tumse hai (O Sisters, mothers, daughters, you are the ornaments of the world;You are the life of nations, the dignity of civilisations)

As a child I had heard Hali being recited in my home. Hali was my paternal grandmother’s paternal grandfather. He wrote a poem for his six year-old great granddaughter – my father’s younger sister, for whom I was named. My elders made me believe that the poem was written for me;a realisation that made me feel self conscious but secretly happy. As I recounted in Hali’s simple words, of the family’s love for the little girl, that day, I sensed that the audience was identifying with each word praising the innocence and intelligence of a small girl, a lass who was described by the poet as an unending source of happiness for all.

When his famous lines about the status of mothers were recited from the podium, the huge crowd listened with rapt attention. Hali’s poem made a single assertion: that to whatever exalted station men rose, it was to women that they owed their very existence. After all, what were they, at birth, if not but a lump of flesh? This lump of flesh, how would it have been nurtured If the mother had not held it to her bosom, The Sufis, the scholars, the men of God, the Prophets, The intellectuals, the savants, All creatures of God who evolved advanced, The ladders they climbed were held in their mothers’ laps.

That day Panipat perhaps stood poised to lead the country in reclaiming its girl child. A poet, a president and a populace is a formidable combination. It can break vicious mindsets. Hali was indeed born to break all stereotypes – the one about ‘Maulanas’, especially their antipathy for women’s rights;the stereotype about self-indulgent poets;and finally, the stereotype about Haryana, especially. Jo ilm mardon ke liye samjha ha gaya aab-e-hayat, Tehra tumhare haq mein roh zehr-e-halahal sar ba sar, Aaya hai waqt insaaf ka nazdeek hai yaumul hisaab, Dunya ko dena hoga in haq talfiyon ka wan jawab. “ (Learning, which for men was considered the elixir of life, For you it was considered lethal, venomous The day of judgment dawns, justice will smite, The world will then answer for depriving you of rights).

(The writer is member, Planning Commission), 11th feb, TimesCrest,

Silent Observer” not a quick fix solution to dwindling child sex ratio

A new device called a “Silent Observer” — hailed as a solution to curbing the practice of aborting female babies in India — has drawn criticism from activists who say the technology is more a government eyewash than an answer.

Despite laws banning expectant parents from doing pre-natal tests to determine the gender of their unborn child, the practice of female foeticide remains common in parts of India, where a preference for sons runs deep.The “Silent Observer” — also known as an “active tracker” — is a large electronic device which can be fitted into sonography machines to allow authorities to monitor and record the pre-natal ultrasound scans taken by doctors.

The device, currently part of a pilot program in western India, sends scans to police who will monitor and crackdown on doctors believed to be conducting these gender tests, which result in abortions of thousands of female fetuses annually.

“The 2011 census is staring us in the face. We have lost many girls due tos ex selection  , but now everyone is looking for a quick-fix solution. The tracker appears to be this … almost like a quick pill to fix the gender crisis we are facing in the country.

India’s 2011 national census has revealed that while the overall female-to-male ratio has marginally improved since the last census in 2001, fewer girls were born than boys and the number of girls under 6-years-old plummeted for the fifth decade running.

“Silent Observer” Pilot Program Cannot Determine Doctors’ Intent

A May study in the British medical journal Lancet found that up to 12 million Indian girls were aborted over the last three decades — resulting in a skewed child sex ratio of 914 girls to every 1,000 boys in 2011 compared with 962 in 1981.

Sons, in traditionally male-dominated regions, are viewed as assets — breadwinners who will take care of the family, continue the family name, and perform the last rites of the parents, an important ritual in many faiths.

Daughters are seen as a liability, as families have to pay substantial wedding dowries. Protecting their chastity is a major concern as pre-marital sex is seen to bring shame and dishonor on families.

The “Silent Observer” currently is being tested in western India’s Maharashtra state. The device has been installed in hundreds of ultrasound machines in clinics and hospitals of Kolhapur district, which has a child sex ratio of 845 girls to 1,000 boys.

No cases involving the tracker have been registered against doctors so far, said activists, who believe the application and implementation of the device is unlikely to act as a deterrent to sex selection

We need a technical person to read the images and moreover what images emerge only reveal that the doctor is viewing the genitalia (of the baby), which he or she is expected to do to detect congenital deformity.This device cannot identify or pinpoint the real intent of the doctor to prove that he or she is contemplating sex determination and sex selection.Device is useless in smaller and increasingly common portable ultrasound devices

The trackers are large rectangle instruments which can only be attached to large trolley-type sonography machines, said Singh, adding that many illegal abortions were being carried out based on information provided by smaller unregistered laptop and palmtop ultrasound machines.

Activists are concerned the tracker will be adopted by other states such as Punjab, Goa and Haryana, which also have highly skewed sex ratios, as a “band aid” or excuse not to tackle the underlying problem of lack of enforcement of the law.

There have been 486 cases registered against doctors conducting gender tests and this has resulted in around only 7 convictions. While the tracker may help in providing evidence, the figures say it all  and  enforcement of the PCPNDT ACT  is what is  needed.

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