Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Has the law helped?(SATYAMEV JAYATE)

Implementing the Act on the ground was another matter, however, and sex determination and female foeticide continued, practically unchecked. Following more protests and a public interest litigation by activists’ groups, the Supreme Court issued a directive in 2001 calling upon all state governments to strictly implement the law. 

Nevertheless, sex determination continued clandestinely – as is reflected in a further anti-girl child skew in the child sex ratio from that year. In 2003, the PNDT Act was amended and renamed as the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994.
Has it helped? Having read so far, cynical readers would imagine that it has not. And they would be right. Families routinely take pregnant women for “check-ups” which are actually sonographies; women are regularly either coerced and forced into abortion, or are given an anasethetic and upon waking find that their pregnancy has been terminated. All this naturally takes an awful toll on their physical and mental health.

Women who try to escape this nightmare don’t have it easy. The law may be on their side in letter, but the enforcers of the law are more often than not on the side of the perpetrators. 

The combination of greed, social attitudes and practices, family pressure, lack of political will and lacunae in the law enforcement setup leads to heavy under-reporting of the crime, and a low conviction rate. In some cases, even when doctors are convicted, they are not imprisoned but released after paying a fine. 
When millions are killed in a relatively short span of time, it is termed genocide. India’s 30 million missing girls are not evoking the same kind of outrage, however, although female foeticide actually meets four out of five criteria to be termed genocide. In the case of female foeticide, the killing has happened before the girls came into this world. The killing has happened over several decades. But the fact remains that the killing has happened, and continues to happen. For this to change, attitudes towards women and girls must undergo a very fundamental transformation on a large scale.

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