Special Correspondent

Stringent penal provisions likely to curb sex tests, says Anbumani Ramadoss

  • The rich are major defaulters: Dasgupta
  • Remove religious bias: Malhotra

    NEW DELHI: Health and Family Welfare Minister Anbumani Ramadoss on Monday sought the help of parliamentarians in arresting the decline in the country's sex ratio. Pointing out that the Government alone could not address the problem, he said MPs should mobilise opinion in their constituencies against female foeticide.

    Call for introspection

    The Minister was responding to a calling attention motion in the Lok Sabha on the situation arising out of the "increasing incidence of foeticide leading to a decline in the ratio of female to male children."

    With the prime mover of the motion Gurudas Dasgupta (Communist Party of India) criticising the Minister for his written reply describing it as "a mediocre, intermediate class essay" -- Dr. Ramadoss reminded members that few of them turned up for a meeting he had convened earlier this year to discuss the issue. All women MPs and members representing the States with the most adverse sex ratio had been invited, but only one woman MP and 17 other MPs attended, he said, drawing a remark from Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on the need for members to do introspection.

    In his written reply, the Minister said a strong son preference and low estimation of girls, increasing dowry demands, difficulties in bringing up the girl child, and easy availability of ultrasound and abortion services at private clinics were the main reasons for the increase in female foeticide.

    Conceding that sex determination tests were being carried out despite the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, Dr. Ramadoss said the Government was considering more stringent penal provisions.

    For, "invariably the person who seeks the illegal service and the service provider are in agreement to defeat/circumvent the provisions of the law."

    Earlier, Mr. Dasgupta pointed out that it was the rich and the affluent who were the major defaulters and it was the "shining urbanity" which was responsible for the adverse sex ratio. "I appeal to the nation to rise in revolt against female foeticide," he said demanding financial incentives for the girl child.

    Supporting him, Vijay Kumar Malhotra (Bharatiya Janata Party) said the Government should work with religious leaders to remove in-built biases against women in various faiths including Hinduism in which every woman was encouraged to become a mother of sons.