Female Foeticide

One of the greatest threats to our contemporary civilization is the menace of skewed sex ratio. The increasing imbalance between men and women is leading to many crimes such as illegal trafficking of women, sexual assaults, polygamy and dehumanization of society. These acts have been increasing making this world unsafe for women. Female foeticide is one of the most nefarious crimes on this earth; perhaps what is detestable is that the people who commit crime belong to the educated class. To this menace our ancestral and biased view about male child, lack of education, ever increasing population and dowry have been good propellants. Some measures and their enforcement have to happen immediately. The ineffectiveness of the Pre-Natal Diagnostics Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act is very much evident. Hence there needs to be quick reformation in the attitude of people to look beyond the legacy and transform this world as a better place to live in.

Growing menace of Female Foeticide:

The social, cultural and religious fiber of India is pre-dominantly patriarchal contributing extensively to the secondary status of women. The patrilineal social structure based on the foundation that the family runs through a male and makes male a precious commodity that needs to be protected and given special status. Another important pillar of the patriarchal structure is marriage wherein women are given sub-ordinate status having no say in the running of their life or any control over their body or bodily integrity.

Marriage is also considered as a process whereby the burden of the father is passed on to the husband for a very high price. The dowry or groom price is so staggeringly high irrespective of the class structure that generations may have to toil to repay the debts incurred during marriage. All of this has contributed to a low status for women in the society to such an extent that even the birth of a girl child in a family is sought to be avoided. A deleterious fall out of the subjugated position of women is their vulnerability to violence, rape, sexual abuse dowry harassment, domestic violence, trafficking, etc with little or no mechanisms of combating the same either by way of effective laws and implementation or civil society action. Various methods were found to eliminate the girl child after her birth like starving her, crushing her under bed or giving poison etc.

Pertinently the responsibility for killing the child was fixed on the mother/women as she was considered responsible for bringing the girl child into existence. The causes for elimination of girl child indicate that the reasons are similar and different depending upon the geographical location in which female infanticide is practiced. An exorbitant dowry demand is one of the main reasons for female infanticide. Some of the other reasons are the belief that it is only the son who can perform the last rites, lineage and inheritance runs through the male line, sons will look after parents in old age, men are bread winners etc. Strong male preference and the consequent elimination of the female has continued to increase rather than decline with the spread of education.

The recent technological developments in medical practice combined with a vigorous pursuit of growth of the private health sector have led to the mushrooming of a variety of sex-selective services. This has happened not only in urban areas but deep within rural countryside also. Female infanticide in most places has been replaced by female foeticide. Female foeticide or sex selective abortion is the elimination of the female foetus in the womb itself. The sex of the foetus is determined by methods like amniocentesis, chrion villus Biopsy and now by the most popular technique ultrasonograghy. Once the sex of the foetus is determined, if it is a female foetus, it is aborted. The increase in female foeticide has seen the proportionate decrease in female sex ratio which has hit an all time low especially in the 0-6 age group and if this decline is not checked the very delicate equilibrium of nature can be permanently destroyed.

 

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