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Female foeticide and female infanticide

Introduction

Female foeticide is the process of finding out the sex of the foetus and undergoing abortion if it is a girl. Although it is illegal, many people continue to practice it. Besides this, there are some communities which practice female infanticide - the practice of killing the girl child once she is born. This fact is highlighted by the findings of census 2001 which show that there are only 933 women in this country for every 1000 men. Besides this, Census (2011) data showed a significant declining trend in the Child Sex Ratio (CSR), calculated as number of girls for every 1000 boys between age group of 0 - 6 years, with an all time low of 918 in 2011 from 976 in 1961. This decline in sex ratio means that we are not just depriving girls of human rights, we are also depriving them of their right to live.

foeticide

This practice needs to be stopped as both girls and boys have an equal right to live. In order to do this, it is necessary to protect their rights by prohibiting practices like dowry, female unemployment, child marriage and caste discrimination.

What the law says about female foeticide and female infanticide

According to certain sections of the Indian Penal Code, forced abortion, causing death of an unborn child or intentionally preventing a child being born alive are punishable offences. Besides this, the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, considers engaging in sex selective abortion using pre-natal diagnostic techniques as a punishable offence.

Role of panchayat members in stopping female foeticide and female infanticide

Panchayat members should

  • give accurate information on the laws pertaining to this issue
  • find out where it is being practiced in the village and investigate it immediately
  • register all births and deaths under the purview of the panchayat
  • raise awareness about gender sensitivity through public education programmes
  • prevent female foeticide with assistance from the ANM and local mid-wife.

Source : NCPCR Handbook on Safe Childhood Programme for Panchayat members



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