Lack of Conviction. That’s What’s Skewing the Sex Ratio
Out of a thousand-odd cases filed against illegal gender tests, only 83 have found doctors guilty. Shonali Ghosal reports
NOT A second daughter,” was Jaya Prasad’s reaction when the midwife predicted a baby girl just by looking at his wife Guddi Devi’s gait. He wanted a sex determination test to confirm the gender of the yet-to-beborn child. Suddenly, Devi felt as if she’d become one of the women she’d been seeking out near her village in Morena, Madhya Pradesh, for the last three years, to save female foetuses.
Devi refused the test and convinced her husband through the NGO she works with. “We told him that both the doctors and the patients involved could be jailed,” says NGO member Jitender. Luckily, Prasad accepted her decision. Her younger daughter is now two years old, and Devi continues to work for women’s rights.
Unfortunately, this is a rare case. Sex determination, often the precursor to abortion and foeticide, is rampant not because of lax laws but poor implementation. The Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PCPNDT Act) was passed in September 1994 “for regulation and prevention of misuse of diagnostic techniques.” More than 17 years on, TEHELKA found that the Act, though strong on paper, serves as no deterrent in reality.
Number of Convictions
Total number of convictions under the PNDT Act till September 2011 (* The remaining 28 states and union territories had either zero convictions or zero cases)