Fewer daughters for India’s doctors, suggests shocking report

Written by Tejas Mehta |

Fewer daughters for India's doctors, suggests shocking report

(Representational pic)

MumbaiIt is a well-established fact that many doctors across the country have been caught promoting and pushing for gender-selection in favour of the male child. A lucrative, illegal and unethical business. But are they also practising this in their personal lives?A new study published in the American Journal “Demography” and titled “Skewed Sex Ratios in India: Physician Heal Thyself” seems to suggest so. The survey was conducted by collecting data from 946 nuclear families with 1,624 children. Either one or both parents were doctors and students at the Government Medical College and Hospital in Nagpur between 1980 and 1985.

The survey revealed the following:

  • Child sex ratio amongst these families was 907 girls per 1,000 boys
  • This is below the national average of 914
  • Much lower than the regional (Vidarbha) average of 954
  • If the family had only one child, this figure dropped even further to 900
  • If the family had two children and the first one was girl, the ratio dropped to a shameful 519 – chances of the second child being female dropped by 38%

The analysis – done by a team of four doctors in Nagpur – clearly points out that “the heavily skewed ratios in the families of physicians are indicative of a deeply rooted social malady that could pose a critical challenge in correcting sex ratios in India.”

One of the study’s authors, Dr Archana Patel,  says that the idea was to go beyond earlier findings which have shown that though gender selection takes place across most socio-economic groups,  the sex ratio is more skewed amongst the rich than the poor. “I don’t think such disproportionate figures can be achieved without any human interference. The numbers do suggest that doctors too are reflecting the mindset of the society at large,” she told NDTV.

The report also cautions that the study has its limitations given the small sample size taken into consideration and it also does not account for childhood mortality rates.  However, it mentions that the figures are “distressing” and “warrants a closer look at the psyche behind sex-selection practices” and if they pervade across the medical fraternity.

When informed about these startling figures, Maharashtra’s Health Minister Suresh Shetty agreed the data was indicative of the rot having gone much too far. “We will have to examine this report as this is quite serious.  However, when we started taking this issue very seriously two years ago, we faced stiff resistance from doctors and all those who were running sonography centres as they opposed the implementation of the law,” he claimed.

Maharashtra has been grappling with the scourge of sex-determination and female foeticide for years. The epicenter of the malpractice is at Beed, a 7 hour drive from Mumbai, where Dr Sudam Munde and his wife Dr Saraswati allegedly ran a sophisticated abortion racket for several years.  In May 2012, the death of a woman who came to the couple for an abortion spot-lit the magnitude of their activities and led to their arrest.

Both are now facing charges under the Pre-Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act. If convicted they could face a maximum of three years in jail. Mrs Munde is out on bail but Mr Munde’s plea was rejected by the Supreme Court last November. The court directed him to apply for bail after six months.


No bail hope for 6 months for Beed Doctor : Supreme Court

Clara Lewis, TNN Nov 14, 2012 MUMBAI: Taking a strong view on sex selection , the Supreme Court recently not only rejected the bail application of Dr Sudam Munde, accused of killing many female foetuses in Beed, but also directed that he apply for bail only after six months. In one of the cases, Munde and his wife Dr Saraswati Munde are accused of causing the death of a woman while carrying out an illegal abortion of a 24-week foetus at their Beed hospital this May.

The couple was arrested nearly three weeks later when the incident came to light.The SC on November 1 rejected Munde’s bail plea. Saraswati Munde has, however, been allowed bail subject to the satisfaction of the trial court. Parli in Beed district is infamous for female foeticide and families, not just from Maharashtra, but also from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka flock here to carry out sex-determination tests and illegal abortions.

Beed in the backward Marathwada region has also one of the worst child sex ratios in the 0-6 age group. According to the 2011 census, the ratio is a dismal 801 girls for every 1,000 boys. In 2001, it was 894 girls to 1,000 boys. This is not the first case registered against the Mundes, who are accused of running a highly sophisticated abortion racket and feeding the foetuses to hunter dogs on their farms.


Dr Gauri Rathod, civil surgeon, Beed government hospital, who has been at the forefront of the drive against sex selection  in the district said there were two more cases filed against Dr Munde under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prevention of Sex Selection) (PCPNDT) Act. In 2010, Satara-based social activist Varsha Deshpande had carried out a sting operation at the Mundes’ hospital that allegedly exposed illegal sex determination tests being conducted there. A case was registered against them but they were granted bail in 2011 on the condition that henceforth they would not conduct sex-determination tests . However, in May this year, the doctors allegedly carried out the abortion of a sugarcane worker Vijaymala Patekar, who was in the second trimester of pregnancy, at their hospital in Parli, which resulted in her death. Following this, district civil surgeon Gauri Rathod had appealed at the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court to cancel the couple’s bail as they breached the law again. The high court then cancelled their bail and ordered a non-bailable warrant against them, but Parli police did not issue it. The court also issued a show cause notice to the inspector of Parli police station asking why the warrant was not issued earlier against the doctors.


Beed-Suspect doc’s son surrenders to police


After being on the run for more than two months, Venkatesh alias Papa Sudam Munde (27), whose doctor parents Sudam and Saraswati Munde are the main suspects in a major foeticide racket, was arrested by the Beed police on Thursday.

Ambejogai taluka’s divisional police officer Swati Bhor said Papa Munde and four of his friends surrendered at the police station at 6 am on Thursday.

“Five persons including Venkatesh Munde and his accomplices Bahiram Salve (39), Nitin Deshmukh (29), Parameshwar Ankushe (27) and Sanjay Soni (30) were arrested.”

Investigations into his alleged role of aiding his parents in the female foeticide racket are on. Baliram is a farm labourer, Parameshwar a driver and Sanjay and Nitin his business friends,” said Bhor.

In the last week of May, Beed resident Vijaymala Patekar died while under the care of the Mundes. The doctor couple was accused of carrying out an illegal abortion on Patekar, who was in her second trimester as she was carrying a girl child.

Investigations revealed that the Mundes had offences registered against them in the past of running an illegal sex determination racket.

On Thursday afternoon, the five suspects were produced before the court of Judicial magistrate (first class) RR Kale and were remanded in police custody till Tuesday.

Assistant public prosecutor Atul Tandale argued that the suspects were absconding from the time the offence was registered and after a month they had voluntarily surrendered. “The police have seized the vehicles used for transporting the pregnant women. During investigation it was revealed that the suspects own an illegal sonogrophy machine that needs to be recovered from them. They should be remanded in police custody for a week.”

The Munde couple absconded when the police began inquiring into allegations about the Mundes feeding female foetuses to dogs or burying them on their farms. They surrendered to the police in mid-June. Venkatesh is believed to have helped his parents evade arrest and also helped them while they were on the run.

Beed Doctor duo slapped with culpable homicide – Illegal abortion case

, TNN | Jun 19, 2012,

MUMBAI: A day after Beed doctors—Sudam Munde and his wife Saraswati—surrendered before the Parli police, the state government is contemplating hiring Ujjwal Nikamas the public prosecutor to argue the state’s case against the couple.The Parli magistrate court on Monday sent the doctor couple, accused of conducting illegal abortions, to police custody till June 30.

The police have booked the couple for culpable homicide under section 304 of the IPC. However, the health department has asked the police department to also add the charge of death due to negligence under section 304 (A) of the IPC against the couple.

On Monday, public health minister Suresh Shetty met principal secretary (law) Vijay Achaliya, health secretary Bhushan Gagrani and family welfare commissioner Vikas Gharge. The meeting was held to build a strong case against the couple. According to health department officials, hiring a top lawyer for the case was discussed at the meeting. “Ujjwal Nikam is one of the names being considered by the department. Also, appointing a senior lady police officer to conduct further investigations was discussed,” an official said.

Senior NCP leader and PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal too has demanded slapping of stringent sections against the Munde couple.

Spelling more trouble for the Mundes and those who helped them, the health ministry has decided to also ask the police to find out who sheltered the couple, who were on the run for the last one month. “Cops should take the driver, who brought the couple to the police station, into custody and find out where all the doctors visited over the last three weeks,” a senior Mantralaya official said. “The government has also decided to club all cases against Munde to prepare a stronger case,” the official added.

Hospital of horrors has beds in every corner

Sumitra Deb Roy | TNN

Mumbai: The look of the four-storeyed Munde hospital at Parli taluka in Beed may give away little about the horrors that were unfolding inside. Virtually called a den for ‘killing’ baby girls by locals, officials said the fact that the 114-bed ‘maternity’ hospital had only two cribs spoke a million words.
A recent report by civil surgeon Dr Gauri Rathod to the public health department stated how the hospital had sections, sub-sections and beds squeezed in every corner. Beed collector Sadanand Koche told TOI that as per official records, the hospital had 14 beds. But, there were beds in the corridor, under staircases and even in the tiny space between his residence and the hospital building. Police inspector Ramrao Gadekar said rooms in his residential building had cots where patients used to stay.
The report spoke about how hospital owner Dr Sudam Munde developed ways of shielding his work. In violation of the code of conduct, he had a huge stock of printed prescriptions with names of same medicines on hundreds of them. “He used codes that only he and the pharmacist would understand. Most prescriptions had names of routine drugs used for cold or fever printed on them,” said Dr Rathod.
The report highlighted how biomedical waste at the hospital used to be dumped in buckets and not plastic bags of different colours.
Parli’s locals said Munde’s hospital was known for illegal abortions. “People used to come from even neighbouring Gujarat and Karnataka,” said Rathod. Officials did not find a sonography machine at the hospital, but detected a portable machine, which he tried to hide when the police searched the place.
In 2010, he was caught in a sting operation talking  about how he performed illegal abortions. Last year, the foetus of a girl child was found in a plot owned by Munde. Soon after, 14 sonography centres were sealed. Varsha Deshpande of Lek Ladki Abhiyan said every time Munde was in the spotlight, he increased his fees for the abortions. Munde, who used to charge Rs 500, increased it to Rs 5,000. After last year’s episode, he increased it to Rs 30,000.
The Parli court issued orders for Munde to surrender before July 3 or his property will be sealed. The Beed police sent letters to over 70 doctors, radiologists and gynecologists that they would be held responsible for sex determination on their premises.

Our family never longed for male child- Really ?

TOI Speaks To Neelabai Patekar, Mother-In-Law Of Vijaymala, Whose Death Exposed Illegal Abortions In Beed

Sumitra Deb Roy | TNN

Vijaymala Patekar (23), whose death while undergoing termination of pregnancy exposed the thriving market of illegal abortions in Beed district, was pregnant for the sixth time. Local health reports showed she had aborted a child two years back but this time she was not as ‘lucky’.
Her daughters Rohini (11), Tejaswini (10), Rutuja (9) and Rama (2) are staring at a bleak future now. With their mother gone and father in jail for pushing their mother to abort the foetus, the girls are all but “orphaned”. Vijaymala’s death took place at Munde hospital in Parli.
When TOI visited the Patekars on Wednesday at their village Bhopa, around 100 km from Beed town, the family looked dazed about the turn of events and refused to acknowledge that she had aborted another child in 2009. Reports said she had attempted two abortions before.
This was confirmed by reports maintained by the local anganwadi.
“She had stopped coming to the anganwadi for her quota of food after her fourth month of pregnancy. This was in April 2009, when she would not even turn up for vaccination. When we asked her about this, she said she had a miscarriage. Most women say that after they get an abortion done, but it would be unfair to blame them,” said anganwadi sevika Ranerasha Vitthal Rao, who has been running the anganwadi
in the area since 1994.
Vijaymala’s mother-in-law Neelabai (67) showed discomfort when asked about the abortion that killed her daughter-in-law. “We know nothing about it. My son and his wife left for the hospital on the morning of May 18 for a ‘check-up’ for backache. We then got a call from my son saying she was no more,” she said.
Neelabai said the family never longed for a male child.
“We are happy with our girls. Of course, we have no avenues to raise these children,” she said.
Vijaymala and husband Mahadev used to migrate to Karnataka for sugarcane cutting for six months every year and got a measly amount of Rs 25,000-30,000. Mahadev’s parents, both above 65, said they did not have resources to fight for their son’s release. The Parli police complained how the Patekars have not lodged any complaint against Dr Sudam Munde.
June 5: Teams of government officials and police, while conducting raid on hospitals, find Dr Madhav Sanap of Bhagwan hospital carrying out sex selection tests
Sanap’s registration cancelled for five years by Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) six months ago as he was illegally running it under the name of his anesthetist, Dr A Dahiphalkar
Both doctors absconding
Three incidents in Beed and one of its talukas, Parli, have highlighted the flourishing industry of illegal abortions and female foeticide DOC COUPLE GETS COURT NOTICE
May 18: Vijaymala Patekar (22) dies of bleeding while undergoing illegal abortion in sixth month of gestation at Munde hospital
Dr Sudam Munde and doctor wife Saraswati claim patient died of excessive bleeding but absconded after details of female infanticide surface
Police investigations reveal 40 bank accounts, 120 acres of land and deposits of over Rs 1 crore
Parli court issues notice directing doctor couple to surrender before July 3 or else property will be sealed 2 BOOKED FOR DUMPING FOETUSES
June 3: Two female foetuses found in dry basin of Bindusara river Administration and cops trace back foetuses to Sanap hospital run by Dr Shivaji Sanap
Police say foetuses belonged to unmarried girl from Pune and married woman from Georai tehsil. Both abortions illegal as they were performed beyond five months
Mangal Masu Dhighe (29) and Manisha Vilas Javle (28), ayahs at Dr Sanap’s hospital, booked for dumping foetuses
Police find another unmarried girl in hospital whose foetus was also aborted at Sanap hospital
Aborted female foetus taken to Kakad-Hira village of Patoda tehsil by the girl’s parents. Police recover foetus and bring it for post-mortem
Dr Sanap remanded to police custody till June 12.
Police arrest father-inlaw Dr Srihari Lahane on June 6 (With inputs from Atul Kulkarni)

The reports coming from Beed indicate a strong nexus between the sex determinationabortion industry and the administration. The Mundes’ hospital seems to have fed on this nexus and prospered. How else does one explain the administration not knowing what seems to have been common knowledge in the entire belt? And how else does one explain the doctors’ burgeoning practice despite being under the scanner? The state and local administration appear to be equal partners in this crime with the doctors.

Drug inspectors raid seven medical stores in Beed

, TNN | Jun 6,2012

BEED: The crackdown in and around Beed has exposed how chemists are hand-in-glove with doctors in stocking up and illegally selling abortion pills. Twelve Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drug inspectors, who have been raiding medical stores since Sunday, nailed seven stores for illegally selling, purchasing and stocking injections and pills that can induce abortion.

Activists say the crackdowns should have been more frequent in the district with the lowest sex ratio in the state (801 girls to 1,000 boys). But the FDA maintained that lack of manpower makes it practically impossible for them to keep a constant vigil on chemist shops. Beed collector Sadanand Koche told TOI that the post of assistant commissioner (FDA) for Beed has been lying vacant for three years. “One official has been taking care of Beed, Latur and Osmanabad, and the work pressure is understandably high,” he said.

The team inspecting chemist shops found that many with dubious records were attached to maternity centres with licences to carry out abortions. For instance, Priya Medical was housed inside Sanap Hospital, where the abortion of three foetuses was traced back. The hospital owner, Dr Shivaji Sanap, was arrested and remanded to judicial custody that ends on Wednesday.

Assistant commissioner Suhas Mohite, who is heading the team of inspectors raiding shops, said it had lost its licence to carry out medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) in August 2011. “Yet, it had more than 1,000 packs of Vecredil, each containing two 100 bottles of the drug that is commonly used for second trimester abortions,” he said, adding that the FDA was taking steps to cancel its licence.

Mohite explained that the team questioned wholesalers about their main retail buyers and nabbed chemists. He said the raids would continue for a few days in neighbouring areas like Majalgaon and Shirur too. On the other six chemists, he said most tried to mask the actual sale or purchase of injections or kits, the use of which can induce labour in 20-40 hours. “The sale or purchase of such kits or injections without a bill is strictly prohibited,” he said.

A chemist from Parli, infamous for housing the hospital where foetuses were allegedly fed to dogs, was illegally stocking up abortion pills. The chemist has links with Dr Sudam Munde, who was recently found guilty of female foeticide and is on the run. Reports said that Munde had purchased Vecredil injections worth over Rs 20 lakh in 2011. FDA officials claimed that they were getting additional manpower from other states to look into the menace in Beed.

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