Female Foeticide Must Be Punished Most Strictly

To begin with, there can be no worst humiliation of women other than female foeticide wherein a female is killed by none other than her own parents with the help of doctors who for lure of making quick money resort to this kind of worst unethical practice and that too when she is in mother's womb even before she is born! This has been happening in India since ages yet those involved in it are most unfortunately either not punished at all or even if punished escape with very light punishment thus making a complete mockery of the rights of female child who is killed even before she is born. This is a matter of grave concern and this “Saab Chalta Hain” attitude is squarely responsible for it!

While craving for the exclusive indulgence of my esteemed readers, let me inform them that this most nefarious crime owes its origin to many causes. Among the prominent ones are as follows: -

1. A girl child is mostly considered a liability as parents have to give an exorbitant money in dowry. Therefore in order to avoid it, many want that it should be eliminated right at the beginning so that they don't face any more problems later.

2. A girl child has to be protected always unlike boys who cannot be abused by anyone so easily. Therefore parents in order to avoid the trouble of always being bothered for her safety tend to decide to eliminate her at the foetus stage itself.

3. The wrong perception that only male child can look them well in old age is another strong reason why parents tend to indulge in female foeticide.

4. Last but not the least, again the wrong perception that last rites can only be performed by a male child is one of the major reason for parents indulging in female foeticide.

To say the least, Haryana (820), Gujarat (8780 and Himachal Pradesh (897) are among the worst performing states in India as far as the sex ratio goes. The national sex ratio of 940 also is not very good and it must be improved further which again can be possible only if female foeticide is checked on a large scale especially in rural areas! More awareness campaign should be launched to educate parents that now a girl child is not less to a male child in any manner.

It will not be an exaggeration to say that unwarranted leniency in awarding punishment is one of the major reasons why female foeticide has taken such deep roots in India! Look at 'The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994'. It was amended in 2004.

To put things in perspective, this law was enacted to deter and punish pre-natal sex screening and female foeticide. Look at how no minimum punishment of at least 14 or 10 years or even five years or even lesser prescribed under Section 23 of this Act! Look at how inadequate punishment prescribed which can extend only up to a maximum of three years and not more!

Look at how in fine also no minimum fine prescribed and maximum too is just Rs 10,000 which is just nothing! What is Rs 10,000 for a doctor who makes several lakhs of rupees in a single day? You tell me!

What is even worse is that even for repeated offenders we see that the imprisonment may just extend up to five years only which is just two years more than what is awarded to those who commit the offence for the first time! Not stopping here, even the maximum fine prescribed can extend to just Rs 50,000 only! What is worse is that here again no minimum fine prescribed!

All revolves around the sword of discretion in the hands of a Judge who can decide to use it as per his own unfettered discretion! What message are the lawmakers sending by enacting such lenient sentencing for those engaged in this loathsome and most reprehensible practice of aiding in female foeticide in any manner? Why can't there be zero tolerance for such acts?

Also, why the name of the medical practitioner who indulges in contravening any of the provisions of this Act should not be removed from the register of the Council permanently at the very first place instead of removing his name for just five years under Section 22(2) as we see right now? Why should he/she be allowed to again subsequently commit the same offence before barring him/her permanently? There should be zero tolerance for such abominable practices!

Going ahead, why can't Section 22(3) of the Act also be amended? Why can't the punishment for those who conduct pre-natal diagnostic techniques on any pregnant woman for purposes other than those specified in sub-section (2) of Section 4 be enhanced from three to ten years or at least seven years minimum and fine also enhanced from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh? Also, why similarly for subsequent offence the imprisonment must be for a minimum of ten years and maximum of 14 or life and fine also which should be minimum five and maximum ten lakh?

Where is it written that laws can't be amended to meet the present circumstances? Where is it written that those who indulge in female foeticide can't be sentenced to death or life term? Where is it written that the fine imposed can't be enhanced?

Why can't the jail term prescribed and the fine prescribed be enhanced considerably that may act as a potential deterrent to those in the medical profession to restrain them from doing any such act that can land them in jail for life or at least up to 20 or 14 years and minimum fine also be raised up Rs 5 lakh and maximum up to Rs 50 lakh or even more apart from banning them for life from working anywhere in India as a doctor or in any other capacity in any hospital? Why our lawmakers pay no attention on such an all-important matter? Can it be neglected any longer considering the irrefutable truth that female foeticide is responsible for the huge fall in the population of female?

Needless to say, there should not be weapon of discretion available in the hands of Judge. This concerns directly the birth of a girl child and therefore cannot be taken lightly under any circumstances. How can leniency be shown at all under any circumstances in such cases of female foeticide?

It is this unwarranted and misplaced leniency shown towards such corrupt doctors and heartless parents that female foeticide is flourishing on such a large scale and the population of a female child is going down steadily! One fully appreciates Prime Minister's 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' yojana but unless the large-scale incidents of female foeticide are checked immediately things won't change much and they will be killed even before they are born or are able to be admitted in schools! This deep-seated gender prejudice has to be opposed and fought tooth and nail by all right minded thinking citizens of this country.

Even Section 22 of the Act which prohibits advertisements relating to pre-conception and pre-natal determination of sex and dwells on the punishment for contravention must be amended comprehensively. The imprisonment term which can now extend up to three years must be amended to make minimum punishment up to five years and maximum up to ten years. Why can't this be done? Why can't the fine prescribed which may extend to Rs 10,000 be enhanced further to Rs 10 lakh or at least Rs 1 lakh and the minimum fine also be inserted of up to Rs 50,000? Why our lawmakers can't work on this unitedly?

All said and done, our lawmakers can do anything they like provided they are serious and interested seriously in saving female from being killed in the foetus itself even before being born alive to see the world before them! But it has to be said with deep regret that till now they have not done anything serious in this direction. Only piece meal and cosmetic efforts have been made and the present law are far too much lenient which alone explains why they fail to act as a suitable deterrent!

Before winding up, let me add here that the parents too must be always taken to task strongly for killing their female child in the foetus itself by bribing the concerned doctors! How can they be allowed to go scot free? Why should they not be punished and punished more if they are rich and still indulge in female foeticide? They certainly deserve no leniency if inspite of having enough money to raise a girl child they still prefer to get rid of her by indulging in female foeticide!

Last but not the least, if female foeticide is to be checked effectively, there can be no two opinions that those who indulge in it must be punished with the strictest punishment especially those in the medical field who bring disgrace to this most noble profession by their misdeeds in the most ugliest manner! There should be no mercy for them under any circumstances! Also, the parents too should be taken to task and those who inspite of being wealthy indulge in it must be punished with the strictest punishment! Female foeticide cannot be justified under any circumstances whatsoever!


Sanjeev Sirohi 
on 08 February 2018
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