Sex Determination: Abuse of Advanced Technologies
Various techniques of sex determination and sex pre-selection have been developed during the last fifteen years (Kotala, 1983, quoted in Vibhuti Patel, 1996). Techniques such as fonography, fetoscopy, needling, chorion biopsy and the most popular one, amniocentesis are increasingly becoming household names in India (Ravindra, 1986, quoted in Vibhuti Patel 1996, p17) Amniocentesis is a scientific technique that was supposed to be used mainly to detect genetic abnormalities, which has become very popular for the detection of the sex of the foetus. For this 15-20 ml of amniotic fluid is taken from the womb pricking the fetus membrane with the help of a special kind of needle. After separating foetic cells from amniotic fluid, a chromosomal analysis is conducted on it. This test helps in detecting several genetic disorders like mongolism, defects of neotube in the fetus, retarded muscle growth “Rh” incompatibility, haemophilia and other types of abnormalities. This test is to be conducted on women above 40 years because there are higher chances of Mongoloid children produced by such women. In
some cases, a sex determination test is required to identify sex specific deformities such as haemophilia, retarded muscular growth, which mainly affect males. These tests have had serious implications, which is evident from the provisional results of the Census of 2001 that were released recently. The sex Ratio for the total population of the country has increased from (927 Females per 1000 Males in 1991 to 933 in 2001). The decline is most prominent in relatively prosperous states such as Punjab and Haryana. The combination of the system of patriarchy and feudalism inherent in the traditional dowry system and medical technology tends to perpetuate discrimination against girl babies.
Taking cognizance of the link between pre-natal sex determination tests and the declining sex ratio among children, the Supreme Court, in a recent judgement, came down heavily on the central and state governments for having failed to implement the prenatal Diagnostic techniques (Regulation for the prevention of misuse Act 1994). The act which came in to effect in 1996 January, Provided for the regulation of the use of prenatal diagnostic techniques for the purpose of detecting genetic or metabolic disorders or chromosomal abnormalities or certain congenital malformations or sex –linked disorders and for the prevention of misuses of such techniques for the purpose of prenatal sex determination leading to female feticide (www.flonet.comaccessed on 2/11/01, Rajalakshmi, 2001, p1) While factors such as poverty and the dowry system play a crucial role in people’s preference for the male child, the bias against the female child among people who are relatively well off needs an explanation. Better living standards do not necessarily ensure a better deal for the female child.
Preventing Female Foeticide
The removal of this practice in Indian society is a serious challenge. It must involve
Ï A move away from religious teachings and the advocacy of a scientific, rational, and humanist approach.
Ï The empowerment of women and a strengthening of women’s rights through campaigning against practices such as dowry, and ensuring strict implementation of existing legislation.
Ï Ensuring the development of and access to good health care services.
Ï Inculcating a strong ethical code of conduct among medical professionals, beginning with their training as undergraduates.
Ï Simple methods of complaint registration, accessible to the poorest and most vulnerable women.
Ï Wide publicization in the media of the scale and seriousness of the practice. NGOs should take a key role in educating the public on this matter.
Ï Regular assessment of indicators of status of women in society, such as sex ratio, and female mortality, literacy, and economic participation.
It is only by a combination of monitoring, education campaigns, and effective legal implementation that the deep-seated attitudes and practices against women and girls can be eroded.
What are the long-term impacts of female foeticide?
The most important impact of female foeticide is the skewed ratio it gives rise to. The dearth of females leads to other complications like female trafficking, kidnappings and in increase in assault and rape against women.
Female foeticide is a horrific and illegal practice that has got to be stopped. The way to do this is by implementation of stronger laws and bringing about a change in the mind-set of our countrymen – uphill tasks, but absolutely crucial nevertheless.
“In order to curb female foeticide and improve the sex ratio, the govt has adopted a multi-pronged strategy which includes legislative measures, advocacy, awareness generation and programmes for socio-economic empowerment of women,” Tirath added.
The legislative measures comprise of implementation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 (PCPNDT), under which sex selective abortions are punishable.
For advocacy and awareness generation and to create national awareness on issues relating to girl child, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has declared January 24 as the National Girl Child Day in 2009.
“Further, to encourage change of mind sets, the govt has introduced on pilot basis, Dhanalakshmi, a scheme for incentivising birth of the girl child,” the Minister stated.
A number of states are also implementing their own schemes to incentivise the birth of a girl child.
The Central government has undertaken a number of initiatives for socio-economic empowerment of women, such as Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP), the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) and loans through the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh. (UNI)
Easy access to ultrasound technology is a key factor in the rise of female foeticide, experts say. Another, they say, is the reluctance of many in India's expanding middle class to pay out a greater portion of their expanding wealth for dowries.
Factors Responsible for Female Feticide Increased availability of advanced technologies, especially ultrasonography (USG), has been the single most important factor responsible for decrease in sex ratios and increase in female feticides. In India over 25000 prenatal units have been registered.  Facilities of sex determination through ìclinic next doorî are now conveniently available with the families willing to dish out any amount that is demanded of them. The easy availability of mobile scanning machines has translated into brisk business for doctors. Sex selection techniques became popular in the western and northwestern states in the late 70s and early 80s whilst they are becoming popular in the South now.  The sex of a fetus can be determined at 13-14 weeks of pregnancy by trans-vaginal sonography and by 14-16 weeks through abdominal ultrasound. These methods have rendered early sex determination inexpensive, feasible and easily accessible. Although various preconception techniques that help in choosing the fetal sex have been described, their use is not widespread due to higher costs.  There are several other factors that have a bearing upon the child sex ratio. Status of women: The most important factor responsible for decreasing child sex ratio is the low status of Indian women coupled with traditional gender bias. The needs with regards to health, nutrition and education of a girl child have been neglected. As mentioned above, in the Vedic Age (1500-1000 BC), they were worshipped as goddesses. However, with the passage of time, their status underwent significant and sharp decline and they were looked down upon as ëslaves of slavesí.  Studies report that women in southern India enjoy a better status irrespective of their literacy in comparison to their north Indian counterparts
According to the 2001 census, there are 933 females per 1000 males. Though there has been a six-point improvement in the female to male ratio from 1991 to 2001, which is an encouraging development after the eighteen-point drop from 1981 to 1991. All these figures explain the extensive female foeticide in India. Most north Indian states and states like Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat have experienced a steep fall in the ratio. In Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat the number of females barely reaches 874, 861 and 921 respectively per thousand males. Kerala is the only state which has 1058 females per 1000 males. This I personally think is because in Kerala, the girl of the family inherits the ancestral property and thus girls are made financially independent.
According to a recent report by the United Nations Children’s Fund, up to 50 million girls and women are missing from India’s population as a result of systemic gender discrimination. There have been several cases of leaving day-old girl-children near the gates of temples, churches leaving the fault-less child’s fate in the hands of God. Selling girl child to child-less parent is another city.
The Girl Child - • 1 out of every 3 girls does not live to see her 15th birthday • One-third of these deaths take place at birth • Every sixth girl child’s death is due to gender discrimination • Females are victimised far more than males during childhood • 1 out of every 10 women reported some kind of child sexual abuse during childhood, chiefly by known persons • 1 out of 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 4 • 19% are abused between the ages of 4 and 8 • 28% are abused between the ages of 8 and 12 • 35% are abused between the ages of 12 and 16 • 1 out of 6 girls will not live to see their 12th birthday • 3 lakh more girls than boys die every year • Female mortality exceeds male mortality in 224 out of 402 districts in India • Death rate among girls below the age of 4 years is higher than that of boys. Even if she escapes infanticide or foeticide, a girl child is less likely to receive immunisation, nutrition or medical treatment compared to a male child • 53% of girls in the age group of 5 to 9 years are illiterate • Every year 27,06,000 children under 5 years die in India. And the deaths of girl children are higher than those of male children.
SOME doctors in Beed are disposing of female foetuses by feeding them to dogs in order to destroy evidence of female foeticide.
The shocking revelation was made by Varsha Deshpande of Lek Ladki Abhiyan, an NGO working against the practice.
Maharashtra's public health minister Suresh Shetty also admitted he had heard of foetuses thrown to the dogs in Beed.
Deshpande's allegation is significant as Beed in Marathwada has the worst child sex ratio -- 801 girls being born per 1,000 boys ( 2011 census) -- in Maharashtra.
The low percentage of females is attributed to rampant female infanticide in the area.
Female foeticide and Female Infanticide : Female foeticide is aborting the female baby in the mothers womb. Whereas female infanticide is killing a baby girl after she is being born. The practice of killing the female child after her birth has been prevailing in our society for many years. But foeticide is the legacy and contribution of the progress made by the medical science. Amniocentesis was introduced in 1975 to detect foetal abnormalities but it soon began to be used for determining the sex of the baby. Ultrasound scanning, being a non-invasive technique, quickly gained popularity and is now available in some of the most remote rural areas. Both techniques are now being used for sex determination with the intention of abortion if the foetus turns out to be female
Girls as young as a year old are being forced to have sex change operations in India by parents desperate for a son.
Surgeons in Indore are reportedly "converting" hundreds of girls a year. They are then pumped full of hormone drugs.
The Hindustan Times said the "shocking trend" involving children between one and five years old was unearthed at the city's clinics and hospitals.
Indian society places a strong value on producing a son and heir, with daughters often seen as an expensive burden to be married off.
Sex determination tests during pregnancy are illegal in India, to discourage the abortion of female foetuses.
In states such as Punjab, the ratio of women to men has dropped as low as seven to ten.
Obsession for son is prevalent in all income groups, education groups irrespective of caste and creed.[sup] , Why there is obsession for son? Continuation of family lineage, performance of certain religious and social functions, performance of last rites, and expectation to provide financial, emotional and social support at old age are some of the factors.[sup]  Hard tasks like ploughing in fields are very difficult for females, and sons are important assets in such situations. Who will look after them when the parents loose their strength with age? Things are no different for service-class retired people in urban areas.
Gender disparities exist throughout the life cycle of the individual from birth to death. At the birth of boy, whole family is excited and jubilant, and sweets are distributed...