FE­MALE FOETICIDE

Must be pun­ished most strictly.

Woman's Era - - Contents - Sanjeev Sirohi

To be­gin with, there can be no worst hu­mil­i­a­tion of women other than fe­male foeticide wherein a fe­male is killed by none other than her own par­ents with the help of doc­tors who for lure of mak­ing quick money re­sort to this kind of in­ex­cis­able un­eth­i­cal prac­tice – and that too while she is in her mother’s womb even be­fore she is born! This has been hap­pen­ing in In­dia since ages yet those in­volved in it are most un­for­tu­nately ei­ther not pun­ished at all or even if pun­ished es­cape with very light pun­ish­ment. This makes a com­plete mock­ery of the rights off fe­male child who is killed even be­fore she is born. This is a mat­ter of grave con­cern and the usual saab chalta hain at­ti­tude is en­tirely re­spon­si­ble for it!

This most ne­far­i­ous crime owes its ori­gin to many causes. Among the prom­i­nent ones are: ✿ A girl child is mostly con­sid­ered a li­a­bil­ity as par­ents have to give an ex­or­bi­tant money in dowry. There­fore in or­der to avoid it, many want that this in­no­cent life to be elim­i­nated right at the be­gin­ning so that they don’t face any more prob­lems later.

✿ A girl child has to be al­ways pro­tected un­like boys who can­not be abused by any­one so eas­ily. There­fore, par­ents in or­der to avoid the trou­ble of al­ways be­ing both­ered for her safety tend to de­cide to elim­i­nate her at the foe­tus stage it­self. ✿ There is a wrong per­cep­tion that only male chil­dren can look af­fair the par­ents in their old age. This is an­other rea­son for ruth­less par­ents to in­dulge in fe­male foeticide. ✿ Last but not least, an­other wrong per­cep­tion is that, last rites can only be per­formed by a male child. To say the least, Haryana (820), Gu­jarat (8780 and Hi­machal Pradesh (897) are among the worst per­form­ing states in In­dia as far as the sex ra­tio goes. The na­tional sex ra­tio of 940 also is not very good and it must be im­proved fur­ther which can again be pos­si­ble only if fe­male foeticide is checked on a large scale es­pe­cially in ru­ral ar­eas. More aware­ness cam­paigns should be launched to ed­u­cate par­ents that a girl child is noth­ing less to a male child in any man­ner. It will not be an ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that un­war­ranted le­niency in award­ing pun­ish­ment for this chance is one of the ma­jor rea­sons why fe­male foeticide has taken such deep roots in In­dia! Look at ‘The Pre-con­cep­tion and Pre-natal Di­ag­nos­tic Tech­niques (Pro­hi­bi­tion of Sex Se­lec­tion) Act, 1994’. It was amended in 2004. To put things in per­spec­tive, this law was en­acted to de­ter and pun­ish pre-natal sex screen­ing and fe­male foeticide. Look at how no min­i­mum pun­ish­ment of at least 10 or 14 years un­der Sec­tion 23 of this Act has been en­forced! Look at how in­ad­e­quate pun­ish­ment pre­scribed which can ex­tend only up to a max­i­mum of three years and not more!

Look at how also no min­i­mum fine is pre­scribed and the max­i­mum is just 10,000 which is just noth­ing! What is 10,000 for a doc­tor who makes sev­eral lakh of ru­pees in a sin­gle day? You tell me!

What is even worse is that even for re­peated of­fend­ers we see that the im­pris­on­ment may just ex­tend up to five years only which is just two years more than what is awarded to those who com­mit the of­fence for the first time! Not stop­ping here, even the max­i­mum fine pre­scribed can ex­tend to just 50,000 only! What is worse is that here again no min­i­mum fine to pre­scribed!

All this re­volves around the sword of dis­cre­tion in the hands of a judge who can de­cide to use it as per his own un­fet­tered dis­cre­tion! What mes­sage are the law­mak­ers send­ing out by en­act­ing such le­nient sen­tenc­ing for those en­gaged in this loath­some and most rep­re­hen­si­ble prac­tice of aid­ing in fe­male foeticide in any man­ner? Why can’t there be zero tol­er­ance for such acts?

ABOM­INABLE PRAC­TICES

Also, why should the name of the med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner who in­dulges in con­tra­ven­ing any of the pro­vi­sions of this Act not be re­moved from the reg­is­ter of the Coun­cil per­ma­nently in the very first place in­stead of re­mov­ing the name for just five years un­der Sec­tion 22(2) as we see right now? Why should he/she be al­lowed to again sub­se­quently com­mit the same of­fence be­fore bar­ring him her per­ma­nently? There should be zero tol­er­ance for such abom­inable prac­tices!

Go­ing ahead, why can’t Sec­tion 22(3) of the Act also be amended? Why can’t the pun­ish­ment for those who con­duct pre-natal di­ag­nos­tic tech­niques on any preg­nant woman for pur­poses other than those spec­i­fied in sub-sec­tion (2) of Sec­tion 4 be en­hanced from three to 10 years or at least seven years min­i­mum and fine also en­hanced from ` 50,000 to ` 5 lakh? Also, why sim­i­larly for a sub­se­quent of­fence, the im­pris­on­ment must be for a min­i­mum of ten years and max­i­mum of 14 or life and fine also which should be a min­i­mum five and max­i­mum ` 10 lakh?

Where is it writ­ten that laws can’t be amended to meet the present cir­cum­stances? Where is it writ­ten that those who in­dulge in fe­male foeticide can’t be sen­tenced to death or life term? Where is it writ­ten that the fine im­posed can’t be en­hanced?

Need­less to say, the weapon of dis­cre­tion should not be avail­able in the hands of a Judge. This di­rectly con­cerns the birth of a girl child and there­fore can­not be taken lightly un­der any cir­cum­stances. How can le­niency be shown at all un­der any cir­cum­stances in such cases of fe­male foeticide which like mur­der be­fore birth?

It is this un­war­ranted and mis­placed le­niency shown to­wards such cor­rupt doc­tors and heart­less par­ents that fe­male foeticide is flour­ish­ing on such a large scale and the pop­u­la­tion of a fe­male child is go­ing down steadily! One fully ap­pre­ci­ates the Prime Min­is­ter’s ‘ Beti Bachao Beti Pad­hao’ yo­jana but un­less the large-scale in­ci­dents of fe­male foeticide are checked im­me­di­ately things won’t change much and they will be killed even be­fore they are born or are able to be ad­mit­ted in schools! This deepseated gen­der prej­u­dice has to be op­posed and fought tooth and nail by all right-minded cit­i­zens of this coun­try.

I have even Sec­tion 22 of the Act which pro­hibits ad­ver­tise­ments re­lat­ing to pre-con­cep­tion and pre­na­tal de­ter­mi­na­tion of sex and dwells on the pun­ish­ment for con­tra­ven­tion must be amended com­pre­hen­sively.

All said and done, our law­mak­ers can do any­thing at they like pro­vided they are se­ri­ous and in­ter­ested se­ri­ously in sav­ing fe­males from be­ing killed the foe­tus stage it­self. But it has to be said with deep re­gret that till now dawn­mak­ers have not done any­thing se­ri­ous in this di­rec­tion. Only piece­meal and cos­metic ef­forts have been made and the present laws are far too le­nient which alone ex­plains why they fail to act as a suit­able de­ter­rent!

Be­fore wind­ing up, let me add here that the par­ents too must be al­ways taken to task strongly for killing their fe­male child in the foe­tus it­self by brib­ing the con­cerned doc­tors! How can they be al­lowed to go scot free? Why should they not be pun­ished and pun­ished more if they are rich and still in­dulge in fe­male foeticide? They cer­tainly de­serve no le­niency if in spite of hav­ing enough money to raise a girl child they still pre­fer to get rid of her by in­dulging in fe­male foeticide! We

ONE FULLY AP­PRE­CI­ATES THE PRIME MIN­IS­TER’S ‘ BETI BACHAO BETI

PAD­HAO’ YO­JANA BUT UN­LESS THE LARGESCALE IN­CI­DENTS OF FE­MALE FOETICIDE ARE CHECKED IM­ME­DI­ATELY THINGS WON’T CHANGE MUCH AND THEY WILL BE KILLED EVEN BE­FORE THEY ARE BORN OR ARE ABLE TO BE AD­MIT­TED IN SCHOOLS!

Life is noth­ing but a com­pe­ti­tion to be the crim­i­nal rather than the vic­tim.

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