Prenatal gender testing punishable under law: Dr Rajo
IMPHAL, 12th Sep: Informing that the government is investigating into the cause behind the low ratio of female population in the state despite there being no signs of abortions carried out after conducting sex-determination tests; Health Services director Dr K Rajo has urged the people not to forget that sex determination is a crime and punishable under the law.
A media sensitisation programme on PC & PNDT was organised by Family Welfare Department at the conference hall of the department located along BT Road here Thursday.
Speaking at the programme, Dr K Rajo recalled that Parliament passed the Pre-Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC & PNDT) Act in 1994 with the intent to prohibit prenatal diagnostic techniques for determination of the sex of the foetus leading to female foeticide. The Act was implemented in the state in 2003.
He continued that under this Act, all ultrasound clinics were registered. Presently, there are 158 ultrasound clinics in the state. The government conducts surprise survey from time to time to ascertain if the clinics are conducting sex determination tests or not.
According to the 2001 census, the number of girls to every 1000 boys was 957, while in the 2011 census it was 1000 boys for every 936 girls. Other states of the country often recorded high rate of abortions when the foetus was confirmed to be female via the illegal test, especially as girls are considered a burden to the family with respect to dowry. Because of such practices, the number of females in Haryana dropped to such an extent that it had to trafficked women from other places, he remarked.
Dr Rajo further said that such extreme style of dowry system is not present in Manipur and there are no signs of female foeticide. However, the ratio of female population has dropped considerably and has raised suspicions if abortions are being carried out due to genetic or geographical factors, for which the government is currently investigating, the director informed.
He then said that under the PC & PNDT programme, efforts are being made to ascertain why the ratio of female population is low and also on how to increase the ratio. Further stating that women play a huge role in the upbringing of the children, in financial matters and maintaining the unity of the family, he pointed out that Manipuri society has always tried to empower the women and bring them on equal platform.
Dr Raja further said that as per the PC & PNDT Act, foetal sex determination is illegal except for finding any abnormalities with the unborn baby for which abortion is allowed. The Act prohibits any advertisement for sex determination, requires all ultrasound clinics to register and to maintain detail records. All involved in the sex determination process are liable to a fine and a jail sentence, apart from canceling the registrations.
Informing that a body is present in the state to ensure the implementation of PC & PNDT Act, the director said that the body conducts awareness programmes every now and then to inform the masses. He then urged the people to extend their cooperation, while reminding them that foetal sex determination is a crime and punishable under the law.
Among others, Family Welfare additional director Dr Salamat Ullah and PC&PNDT SNO Dr B Ibomcha Sharma also attended the programme.