Mandatory sex determination may jeopardise Rajasthan’s curbs

Jaipur, Feb 2 : Union Minister Maneka Gandhi has stirred a hornet’s nest, especially in Rajasthan by claiming that sex determination tests, which are banned in India, should be made compulsory to check the killing of female babies.

Speaking at the All India Regional Editor’s Conference here on Monday, the minister for Women and Child Development, said : “It is better that we change the policy. As soon as the woman is pregnant, it becomes compulsory for her to tell if it is a boy or a girl and she has to register. If she registers in the initial stages, you will be able to monitor whether the birth took place or not.”

She however, clarified : “I am just putting out this idea. It is being discussed though there is no conclusion yet. She called it a different way to look at the problem of female foeticide. “We cannot keep catching people doing (illegal) ultrasound,” she said.

Sex determination tests were banned in India in 1994 to check foeticide or the killing of female fetuses in parts of the country where the birth of a boy is considered a boon.

India is among the countries with the worst child sex ratios in the world. The 2011 Census showed that there are 914 girls to 1,000 boys in India.

According to Census 2011, Rajasthan’s positions is more dismal. Rajasthan has 883 girls between the ages of 0-6 for every 1,000 boys. The child sex ratio in 2001 was 909. Alarmed over the skewed sex ratio, Rajasthan government has put in place many steps to curb pre-natal sex determination tests at ultrasound clinics.

Reacting to Ms Gandhi’s bold suggestion, some activists have said that allowing sex determination tests may be a disaster in less developed societies where women are given little choice.

Alarmed over Rajasthan’s dismal sex ratio, the government has put in place a network of professional informers to keep an eye on ultrasound clinics that conduct sex determination tests. For each lead, an informer will be paid Rs.25,000. And if the crime is proven in the court, the informer gets another Rs.25,000. Previously, an individual was given Rs.5,000 if his complaint against an errant ultrasound clinic was found to be true.

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