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Female Infanticide in India

Five million girls were eliminated between 1986 and 2001 because of foetal sex determination done by unethical medical professionals. The rate of extermination continues to increase after census 2001.Sex determination and sex selective abortion was traced to an Amritsar clinic in 1979 and has now grown into an Rs.1000 -crore country wide industry.

In recent years the misuse of ultrasound has reached remote tribal areas of Rajasthan, Bundelkhand and emerged even in parts of India where women were better treated such as Assam, Kerala and the Kashmir valley. China as of 2000 census was eliminating one million girls annually but present trends suggest that India is likely to overtake China in less than a decade. Son preference has become daughter hatred in India in the recent decades due to the widespread legitimization of this form of violence against women.

In 1994 Parliament responded to the misuse of prenatal diagnostic techniques by enacting PNDT Act. However it was not implemented. The Supreme Court directed the government to implement the PNDT Act in May 2001.Later it was amended to make it more stringent. The health ministry has to be more proactive to stop female foeticide.The ministry surrendered one crore rupees of the meagre funds allocated to the PNDT cell in this budget year. In 2005 the health ministry released full-page advertisements calling female foeticide a sin.

Converting crimes into sins is dangerous as it will only fuel further decline in sex-ratios. There are attempts by some politicians to limit abortion as a means to stop female foeticide. Such anti-women actions would endanger women's health though it may be acceptable to religious fundamentalists.

Efforts of the media have certainly contributed to the increased public discourse on this issue over the years. Today reports of female fetuses found in drains or dug from dry wells or floating in lakes or eaten by dogs are headline news. There have been stories on the consequences like trafficking of women for marriage and emergence of polyandry.

The government of India should set a target date by which the country will have balanced sex-ratios at birth. The coming plan needs to give a fair deal to women by abandoning fertility targets and replacing it with solid commitments to restore sex-ratio at birth. There has to be official recognition that small families are increasingly achieved by eliminating girls.

Excepts from the article: Hidden Genocide by Sabu George

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