Lost before Birth – The unborn girls of India. Utter failure of PCPNDT Act.


GIRLCHILDphoto: Akhilesh Kumar, The Hindu.

India is a country of 1.2 billion souls that continues to face the problem of ‘genocide of girls in the womb’. As per the 2011 census  the child sex ratio fell from being 927 girls per 1000 boys in 2001 to 919 in 2011. The social preference of boys over girls in the Indian culture has led to a frenzy of abortions of female fetuses. Newer/earlier sex determination techniques have made this process safer & more reliable leading to more female feticides.

The problem was recognized early on and a Preconception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques  Act (PCPNDT Act ) was passed in 1994 to prevent sex determination in pregnancy and to punish violators. The implementation of this act was entrusted to government agencies which have done an abysmal job thus far. The study conducted by Public Health Foundation of India clearly proved this. Various writ petitions  with regards to the failure of  implementation have been filed in the Supreme Court of India. On the other hand there were efforts to relax these laws by individuals and the planning commission of India that have drawn a lot of public Ire.

The question now remains can Government alone be trusted with the implementation of PCPNDT Act ? The role of Non-Governmental Organizations and general public should be increased in conducting surveys / reporting centers that are involved in violating the law. There should be a change in policy implementation giving more power to people and NGOs to report violators. This policy implementation change will improve the effectiveness of the Act and decrease female feticide in India.


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4 Responses to “Lost before Birth – The unborn girls of India. Utter failure of PCPNDT Act.”

  1. lmeller2013 Says:

    I would like to begin by understanding the reason for female
    infanticide most likely economic, dowry which requires that a bride’s family pay money when a female child is married. Boys on the other hand are viewed as security for parents when they become elderly. To deal with a problem that has deep roots in community behavior, legislation is important for setting a framework. The advent of technology that is able to detect the gender of the fetus prenatally has only shifted the practice of female infanticide to the earlier female foeticide. One solution to tackle a cultural/economic problem like this requires a concerted effort involving all sections of the community. One avenue is because when compared with men, women have fewer opportunities education and vocational training and thus opportunity for employment. A long-term strategy might include priority education for girls and a welfare system that provides for females. Long-term strategies might include education and a welfare system for girls

  2. ryleejen Says:

    I agree with lmeller that all interventions need to cross the socioeconomic model with general support by the national govt. Recent films such as “Girls Rising”that just hit the cinema is one way were advocacy groups are trying to raise the awareness of gender inequity across the globe. Long term solutions need to address the value of female human life by increasing their opportunities for education, work, and self empowerment. Not only does the govt need to support gender equity but it has to come from the shift of the culture by societal/religious and grass roots organizations first within the family unit and then in the community. NGOs also have a unique opportunity here to buttress human rights advocacy groups, religious affiliations, and women support groups within communities.
    As a father of two adopted girls, this subject really softens my heart. I cant imagine a society where they are viewed as worthless, invaluable, and better off not being born.

  3. vgundareddy Says:

    Thank you both for your valuable input. To give some perspective the Indian government did implement various policies to this effect.
    The Anti Dowry Act, Girl Child incentives ( some state governments were giving up to 100000 rupees per girl child born in government hospitals ), there is up to 50% reservation for girls in many Indian states ( similar to affirmative action in US ) in government educational institutes and despite all these policy initiatives the problem of female feticide persists. I agree there needs to be a societal and grass roots change that is needed at the same the question remains are the policies and programs being efficiently implemented. Also changing culture and attitudes of the people is far more difficult than enforcing the rule of law. A better implementation of policy with extensive grass roots education will probably pave way for better society in India.

  4. amishra2013 Says:

    I completely agree that culture and attitudes are more difficult to change than implementing policies and facilitating extensive education. In fact, there are cases where educated families with good financial standing observe the same tradition. The fact that they are educated and are capable of making unbiased decisions does not alter the fact that they still favor boys over girls. The main reason for their behavior is to ensure they are accepted by the society which they are a part of and follow the societal norms that have not changed much in the past. Not to say that this is happening everywhere and all the time but the trend is still prevalent. Times are changing and society as a whole is becoming more aware and conscious of making the right decision. With education and more power rendered to the society, behavior change if encouraged at grass root level may facilitate rapid change in the societal norms. With the behavior change at the individual level, there will be a better chance of it sustaining over time. The ongoing efforts (policies, laws) will further help in maintaining this change. Without change in intentions and behavior at the society level, it is more likely that the old behavior might relapse making the policy and laws ineffective.

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