Mumbai News: Health Department Offers Reward To Curb Rising Cases Of Prenatal Sex Determination

Mumbai News: Health Department Offers Reward To Curb Rising Cases Of Prenatal Sex Determination

Latest census reveals Maharashtra's sex ratio to be below the national average, many doctors continue to engage in sex determination practices for financial gain despite laws

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Saturday, September 02, 2023, 12:58 AM IST
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Mumbai News: Health department Offers Reward To Curb Rising Cases Of Prenatal Sex Determination | Representational Image

Mumbai: In an effort to combat the rising cases of prenatal sex determination and subsequent abortions, the health department has announced a reward of ₹1 lakh for individuals providing information about parents or families seeking to determine the gender of a foetus prior to delivery. A dedicated helpline has also been established for citizens to lodge complaints against defaulters. However, no calls related to prenatal sex determination have been received till date, informed a senior health official.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) health department has appointed a special officer to closely monitor such cases, conducting regular visits to hospitals and clinics. Legal actions are being taken against centres found guilty of conducting sex determination tests, which are illegal in India. Medical practitioners found violating the law can be sentenced to three years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of up to ₹10,000.

Poor implementation of PC-PNDT Act

An official said, “Experts had already feared a decline in the sex ratio in Mumbai and other parts of the state because of what they call “poor implementation of the Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC-PNDT) Act.” The Act was designed to ban sex selection techniques after conception and prevent the misuse of prenatal diagnostic techniques for sex-selective purposes.

According to the latest census, Maharashtra's sex ratio stands at 929 females per 1,000 males, below the national average of 940. In 2001, the sex ratio in Maharashtra was reported as 922 females per 1,000 males. An executive health officer at the BMC, Dr Daksha Shah, said, “There was only one complaint from the state government in the last six months, which we have duly replied. We have a special team of doctors to verify that complaint. Also, our doctors regularly visit sonography centres for inspection.”

Preventing fetal sex diagnosis and punishing violators

Doctors performing sonography are required to register and renew their centres with the health department, following any instructions issued by the state's public health department. A senior health official emphasised the importance of the Pre-Conception and Antenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Prevention of Sex Selection Act), 1994 Amendment Act, 2003 as a means to prevent fetal sex diagnosis and punish violators. He added, “In some cities of the state, even today, cases of abortion occur if the baby is found to be a girl after sex determination.”

While some doctors have been duly punished for engaging in sex determination practices, many continue to do so covertly for financial gain, particularly in rural parts of Maharashtra, said an expert.

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