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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Women dying due to poor healthcare, malnutrition and selective abortions in India

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The International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on March 8. In India the Women’s Reservation Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha this year a day later to it. Many leaders opposed the bill and some of them are demanding reservation in reservation on the basis of caste and religion. Let them play the political game and try to break the Indian society into pieces as they always do this   on all fronts for their votes. The only important voice among voices was that “the lives of majority of Indian women are still in trouble even after six decades of independence”.

Poor Healthcare System
It is reported that about 40 million Indian women die due to unavailability of proper healthcare every year. Some of these women remain so malnourished that they die soon after they reach to the site of treatment of a disease. Many of our ladies who exist today are surviving because they have escaped out of the death trap either when they had been in embryonic stage in the wombs of their mothers or after they came out and walked through the vulnerable areas of their childhood. Many of these ladies could see the world just because the chemical administered against them while they had been inside their mothers’ body, could not work properly. Such girls or ladies are living with some or the other type of physical or mental deformities.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released its Asia Pacific Human Development Report entitled “Voice and Rights: A turning point for Gender Equality in Asia and Pacific” on March 8, 2010. It reflects women “outnumbering and outliving men in many countries. The population of women in these countries is a little more than half of the total population. In India, the case is different and painful. Here, women constitute about 48.2 percent of the total population. In Pakistan, their percentage is 48.5, a little better; and 48.8 in Bangladesh, still better.

A number of reports published from time to time have been revealing that only female embryos, girls and women are being eliminated out and societies in some developing countries like those of India and China are getting imbalanced.

The report of The Economist

On March 4, 2010 The Economist published “Genocide- the worldwide war on baby girls” (Technology, declining fertility and ancient prejudice are combining to unbalance societies) which reads - The supposed 'gender imbalance problem' faced by China and to a lesser extent, India, will resolve on its own when their respective economic growth continues to lift millions from abject poverty in the decades to come. But the real issue to be concerned about, has been taking place in the western world over the past few decades, and it is the following: 1). The alarming drop in fertility rates due to radical feminization of the western society. It is shocking to see that the feminine values are now deemed the gospel, carefully orchestrated by the militant feminist movement which had gone completely underground starting in the late 80's and spread its tentacles in every facet of the western society now. Be it in the online/print media, entertainment world, education, career/job opportunities or the law itself, all are unfairly stacked up against the average western male. For e.g., ask yourself a simple question: When was the last time you watched a movie or a TV show where a traditional male role (father/husband etc) is showed in good light for the next generation of boys to lookup to? 2) Unchecked cancerous growth and influence of multinational corporations who have the politicians in their back-pockets and then a) Outsource jobs in male-dominated traditional industries to the developing countries. b) Hire more women workers as they work for less and very rarely demand pay hikes. For these multinational companies only profits matter, societal well-being is not even an after-thought. They have now successfully bought out the conservative-majority Supreme Court, to openly indulge in unlimited campaign spending to buyout elections. From here on, this country has officially become the 'United States of Corporate America'. If the western world doesn't wake up soon to address these issues, it will soon find itself becoming the victim of the real imbalance.

The previous census in India reported that millions of girls “never saw the light of a day. Either they were never allowed to be borne due to sex-selective abortions or were killed shortly after birth”. This was reflected by the data pertaining to the population of children in which in the zero to six year age group of children the number of boys showed a marked increase as compared to the number of girls. This reflection belonged to some of the richest districts of the country. These showed that rich people had and are still having access to the medical technology to eliminate female embryos. Thus the data of 2001 census disclosed one real root of the problem.


Now the government of India has started acting against this evil. The pre-conception and pre-natal diagnostic techniques (Prohibition of sex- selection) Act 2003 which is also known as the PCPNDT Act, is in force to safeguard rights of girl children. This Act along with Rules with amendments (February 14, 2003) lay down following directions –

All persons including the owner, employee or any other persons associated with Genetic Counseling Centres, Genetic Laboratories, Genetic Clinics, Ultrasound Clinics, Imaging Centres registered under the Act/these Rules shall –
(i)   not conduct or associate with, or help in carrying out detection or disclosure of sex of foetus in any manner;
 (ii)   not employ or cause to be employed any person not possessing qualifications necessary for carrying out pre-natal diagnostic techniques/ procedures, techniques and tests including ultrasonography;
      (iii)  not conduct or cause to be conducted or aid in conducting by himself or through any other person any techniques or procedure for selection of sex before or after conception or for detection of sex of foetus except for the purposes specified in sub-section (2) of section 4 of the Act;
      (iv)  not conduct or cause to be conducted or aid in conducting by himself or through any other person any techniques or test or procedure under the Act at a place other than a place registered under the Act/these Rules;
(v) ensure that no provision of the Act and these Rules are violated in any manner;
       (vi) ensure that the person, conducting any techniques, test or procedure leading to detection of sex of foetus for purposes not covered under section 4(2) of the Act or selection of sex before or after conception, is informed that such procedures lead to violation of the Act and these Rules which are punishable offences;
      (vii)  help the law enforcing agencies in bring to book the violators of the provisions of the Act and these Rules;
      (viii) display his/her name and designation prominently on the dress worn by him/her;
      (ix)  write his/her name and designation in full under his/her signature;
       (x)   on no account conduct or allow/cause to be conducted female foeticide;
      (xi)   not commit any other act of professional misconduct. 

In India, following measures have been taken up for safeguarding rights of girl children and for their development –
(i). Campaigns run for the welfare and protection of the Girl Child,
(ii).Incentives given to girls for their education- as an example: Government of Jharkhand is providing bicycles to all school going girls since the last year.
(iii).Fines and punishments against persons misusing technology for sex selective abortions.

The result of success of the PCPNDT Act and different steps taken up are expected to be reflected through the data of 2011 census.The problem associated with girl children is not unique to India. As per the reports published in the Economist, startling data on the situation in China detailed preference for male children, one child policy and the sex selection. These activities have led to a marked difference between the number of young men and women. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has been reported to predict on the basis of studies that by 2020 China would have 30 to 40 million more men less than 19 years of age as compared to women. The current sex ratio in China is reportedly 123 boys to 100 girls (The Hindu, April 4, 2010).

Sociological consequences
The situations with girl children have started leading to serious sociological consequences. One of these consequences is the shortage of brides for marriages. We have hundreds of examples of interstate marriages in this country. Earlier, interstate marriages were arranged due to prevailing system of dowry which differed from region to region. For example, some people from Bihar use to prefer marrying their daughters in U.P. as they had an opinion of fewer dowries in U.P. On the other hand there is very high dowry in some Hindu communities, and this has encouraged to inter caste marriages, though it is not the case everywhere. In Indian states like Haryana brides are reportedly being brought from other states as young men often feel difficulty in finding brides in their own state. This is good if we think about the conditions of divided societies in different castes, sects, religions etc. But it is not good if we consider the sex ratio. Data obtained by a survey in Maharashtra reveal that by 2011 the sex ratio of the state would be 915 women to 1000 men. As many as 28 states in India has been identified with disturbing sex ratios. Let us pray to have daughters and take oath to protect, promote and care them as they are in no way less important or efficient than male children.

Key Words: International Women's Day,Women’s Reservation Bill,Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, political game,reservation in reservation,healthcare, malnourished, UNDP, The Economist, The Hindu, Genocide,feminist movement, cancerous growth, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, PCPNDT Act, selective abortions,brides, Haryana, Maharashtra, inter state marriages, disturbing sex ratios

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