Debate Sparks Over Maneka Gandhi’s Sex Determination Statement
Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi’s viewpoint on initiating the sex determination of the foetus has sparked a debate about the consequences of lifting the ban on sex determination. While talking about it during the All India Regional Editors Conference in Jaipur on Monday, she said, “It is better that we change the policy. As soon as the woman is pregnant, it becomes compulsory for her to tell if it is a boy or a girl and she has to register. If she registers in the initial stages, you will be able to monitor whether the birth took place or not.”
Maneka Gandhi called this as solely her opinion and said this will help in reducing cases of female foeticide as everything will be registered and a track record will be maintained. She clarified that this is just a suggestion and not a final announcement or decision made by the government.
The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act was initiated in 1994 due to increase in casesof female foeticide. Before the ban, the sex of unborn child was predetermined by the family members of the pregnant woman. Such cases were reported not only from the rural areas, but also from the urban regions of the country.
Though the initiative of keeping a track record seems propitious, what raises doubts is are we totally equipped to handle it? There has been decline in the illegal diagnose of the sex determination due to the fear of law among the people. Once this becomes legal, many people would make adverse use of this law.
For instance, if the sex determination happens, families, who are against girl child, might not care for the mother anymore and force her to abort the child, and name it as an accident or a medical reason. In case, a medical certificate is made necessary for the termination of the pregnancy, corruption is still prevalent in the country and any person wouldn’t mind providing a fake certificate for money.
Moreover, a change of name or address or hospital is enough to create new records and identity. There are still so many villages in the country which lack proper medical and education facilities. How would the government manage to tackle it? And if the government plans to make the records available in all the hospitals, this system would take many years to work proficiently.
Contemplating the criticism over Maneka Gandhi’s point of view, an official statement was released from her office. It stated, “Some of the newspapers have reported that the Minister referred to a Cabinet proposal about tracking female foeticide and registering the sex of the foetus. This is factually incorrect. What was discussed by the Minister was that effective implementation of the PCPNDT Act is one of the ways to check falling child sex ratio.”
So, do you think it’s justified to lift the ban?