JAIPUR: A recent survey conducted by the Family Planning Association of India in and around Jaipur has revealed an abysmal ignorance among the public about the “appropriate authority” under the law prohibiting sex selection of foetus.
Appropriate authorities under the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, are required to ensure implementation of the legislation. They also investigate into complaints of breach of provisions of the Act and take the complaints to the court.
The Supreme Court directed in 2001 that the appropriate authorities are to be appointed at the State, district and sub-district levels. The authorities, whose number depends on the intensity of the problem of sex determination tests, function with the aid and advice of an Advisory Committee.
R.K. Sahni, Member of the All India Council of FPA India, said here on Thursday that the survey, conducted in the Walled City and Jawahar Nagar slum colony in Jaipur and in Bagru town, had disclosed that the general public had no idea about the extent of the problem of female foeticide and the identity of the appropriate authorities.
Responding to the straight question, “Who is the appropriate authority under the PC-PNDT Act in your area?”, the residents of the three areas gave replies as varied as the Jaipur Mayor, Chairperson of the State Women’s Commission, State Health Minister, Collector, Superintendent of Police, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Ward Member and even the erstwhile ruler of Jaipur, Bhawani Singh.
Prof. Sahni said the survey’s results had indicated that the State Government had failed to comply with the Supreme Court’s directive to publish a list of appropriate authorities and create public awareness against sex determination tests and female foeticide through print and electronic media, hoardings and other appropriate means.
“Although it is legal to undergo a medical termination of pregnancy, for every legal abortion taking place seven abortions are illegally carried out,” said Prof. Sahni, an expert on family planning issues, adding that while illegal abortions jeopardised the future reproductive health of women, very little had been done in Rajasthan to overcome barriers hindering access to safe abortion services.