NRTs: Prof. Vibhuti Patel

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1 New Reproductive Technologies & Pre-Birth Elimination of Women Dr. Vibhuti Patel Director, PGSR Professor and Head, SNDT Women’s University 1, Nathibai Thakersey road, Mumbai-400020 Phone-022-26770227 Mobile-9321040048

Sex Ratio-A Global Scenario:

2 Sex Ratio-A Global Scenario In several Asian countries, globalisation has facilitated easy import of new reproductive technologies leading to selective abortions of female foetuses. In India and China this phenomenon has reached an alarming proportion. Sex ratios in Europe, North America, Caribbean, Central Asia, the poorest region- sub Saharan Africa are favourable to women as these countries neither kill/ neglect girls nor do they use NRTs for production of sons. Only in the South Asia the sex ratios are adverse for women. The lowest sex ratio is found in India .

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3 Europe & North America 105 Latin America 100 Caribbean 103 Sub Saharan Africa 102 South East Asia 100 Central Asia 104 South Asia 95 India 93 Source: The World’s Women- Trends and Statistics, United Nations, NY, 2005 Regions Women per 100 men

Declining Child Sex Ratio :

4 Declining Child Sex Ratio The Census results of 2011 have revealed that Child sex ratio (0-6 years) in India is 914. Increasing trend in the child sex ratio (0-6) seen in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram and A&N Islands. In all remaining 27 States/UTs, the child sex ratio show decline over Census 2001. * Mizoram has the highest child sex ratio (0-6 years) of 971 followed by Meghalaya with 970. Haryana is at the bottom with ratio of 830 followed by Punjab with 846. * Literacy rate has gone up from 64.83 per cent in 2001 to 74.04 per cent in 2011 showing an increase of 9.21 percentage points.

Census 2011:

Census 2011 the increase in the gender ratio, from 933 to 940 women per 1,000 men, got drowned in the alarming decline in the number of girls under 6 years: from 927 to 914 per 1,000 boys. In some states, that ratio went below 800 girls per 1,000 boys. The census figures showed that while the child sex ratio in rural areas is 918 girls per 1,000 boys, the figure is 904 girls per 1,000 boys in cities and urban areas. 5

Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994:

6 Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994 To stop the abuse of advanced scientific techniques for selective elimination of female foetuses through sex -determination, the government of India passed the PNDT Act in 1994. But the techno-docs and the parents desirous of begetting only sons have subverted the act. PNDTs are part of (new Reproductive Technologies) NRTs based on principle of selection of ‘the desired’ and rejection of ‘the unwanted’.

Socio-cultural Background of Son Preference and Neglect of Daughters:

7 Socio-cultural Background of Son Preference and Neglect of Daughters Educated families : small family norm means minimum one or two sons in the family. They can do without daughter. The propertied class do not desire daughter/ daughters because after marriage of the daughter, the son-in-law may demand share in property. The property-less classes dispose off daughters to avoid dowry harassment. But they don’t mind accepting dowry for their sons. Birth of a son is perceived as an opportunity for upward mobility while birth of a daughter is believed to result in downward economic mobility. Though stronghold of this ideology was in the North India, it is increasingly gaining ground all over India.

Female foeticide/ infanticide:

8 F emale foeticide/ infanticide In several states of India- Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Tamilnadu sex-selective abortions of female foetuses have increased among those who want small families of 1 or 2 or maximum 3 children. Communities, which were practicing female infanticide, started using sex-selective abortions.

Declining sex ratio and status of women:

9 Declining sex ratio and status of women The neo-classical logic of Law of Demand and Supply does not apply to the complex social forces where patriarchy controls sexuality, fertility and labour of women without any respect to her bodily integrity. We can’t apply law of DD & SS. In fact, shortage of women in Haryana, Punjab and the BIMARU states have escalated forced abduction and kidnap of girls, forced polyandry, gang rape and child-prostitution.

Sex Ratio-1901 to 2011:

10 Year Number of Women per 1000 Men Decadal Variation 1901 972 1911 964 - 8 1921 955 -11 1931 950 -5 1941 945 -5 1951 946 +1 1961 941 - 5 1971 930 -11 1981 934 - 4 1991 927 -7 2001 933 +6 Sex Ratio-1901 to 2011

Attitudes Towards Women’s Health:

11 Attitudes Towards Women’s Health Social discrimination against women results into systematic neglect of women’s health, from womb to tomb. Female infanticide and female foeticide are widely practiced in BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) and DEMARU (Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra) states.

Increasing Female Literacy & Declining Sex Ratio:

12 Increasing Female Literacy & Declining Sex Ratio In West Bengal, the child sex ratio has declined sharply, from a high of 1011 females per 1000 male children in 1951 to abysmal 960 in 2001 and 949 in 2011.This is the lowest child sex ratio for West Bengal in the last 50 years. A major cause for the decline is ‘sex selective abortions”. Rates of discriminatory abortions have increased along with the increase in female literacy rates in West Bengal. In M.P. the rampant practice of sex change surgery on infants in Indore. This gruesome practice is limited to Indore alone but only the tip of a iceberg that has been exposed by The Hindustan Times, 26 th & 27 th June, 2011.

60 lakh Missing girls in 2001:

13 60 lakh Missing girls in 2001 As a result of sex-determination and sex-preselection tests leading to selective abortions of female foetuses, More than 5 million girls have gone missing in a decade, as per the 2011 census estimates — compared to the data from the 2001 national census. In 2001,Sixty lakh female infants and girls were “missing” due to abuse of NRTs. Sex pre-selection techniques prevent arrival of female baby at a pre-conception state. Even anti- abortionists use this method to get baby boys, as it does not involve “Blood-bath”.

Violence and Health Issues of Women Over the Life Cycle:

14 Violence and Health Issues of Women Over the Life Cycle As unborn children, they face covert violence in terms of sex-selection and overt violence in terms of selective abortions of female foetuses after the use of amniocentesis, chorion villai biopsy, sonography, ultrasound and imaging techniques . IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) clinics for assisted reproduction are approached by infertile couples to produce sons. Doctors are advertising aggressively, “Invest Rs. 500 now, save Rs.50000 later i.e. if you get rid of your daughter now, you will not have to spend money on dowry”.

Discrimination & Dehumanisation:

15 Discrimination & Dehumanisation As girls under 5 years of age, women face neglect of medical care and education, sexual abuse and physical violence. As adolescent and adult women in the reproductive age group, they face early marriage, early pregnancy, sexual violence, domestic violence, dowry harassment, infertility, if they fail to produce son, then face desertion/ witch hunt. The end result is a high maternal mortality. Causes of maternal deaths in our country are haemorrhage, abortion, infection, obstructed labour, eclampsia (blood pressure during pregnancy), sepsis, and anaemia. Proliferation of NRTs should be analysed in this context.

New Reproductive Technologies:

16 New Reproductive Technologies NRTs perform 4 types of functions. In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and subsequent embryo transfer, GIFT (Gamete Intra Fallopian Transfer), ZIFT and cloning assist reproduction. Contraceptive Technologies prevent conception and birth. Amniocentesis, chorion villai Biopsy, niddling, ultrasound and imaging are used for prenatal diagnosis. Gene technologies play crucial role through genetic manipulation of animal and plant kingdoms. They are based on the principles of selection and rejection.

Improvement in Quality of Population:

17 Improvement in Quality of Population Genomics is “ the science of improving the human population through controlled breeding, encompasses the elimination of disease, disorder, or undesirable traits, on the one hand, and genetic enhancement on the other. It is pursued by nations through state policies and programmes”.

Political Economy of NRT:

18 Political Economy of NRT New Reproductive Technologies (NRT) in the neo-colonial context of the third world economies and the unequal division of labour between the first and the third world economies have created a bizarre scenario and cut throat competition among body chasers, clone chasers, intellect chasers and supporters of femicide. It is important to understand the interaction among NRT developers, providers, users, non-users, potential users, policy makers, and representatives of international organisations.

Do Women Have A CHOICE ?:

19 Do Women Have A CHOICE ? An argument that prenatal diagnostic tests give women a choice to select a child of desired sex is also unacceptable as women's "Choices" are made within the patriarchal compulsions to produce sons. Women are not taking decision autonomously. Threat of desertion, divorce and ill treatment force them to opt for sex-determination and sex-preselection tests.

Animal Rights Activists & Women’s Rights Activists:

20 Animal Rights Activists & Women’s Rights Activists Efforts to save endangered species such as tigers, crocodiles, hippopotamus, pythons, lions so on & so forth by Animal Rights Activists Women’s Rights activists are asking Who will save a girl-child ?

Are Indian Women An Endangered Species ?:

21 Are Indian Women An Endangered Species ? Can we allow Indian women to be an Endangered Species ? NO. We will have to change the mindset of doctors and clients, create a socio-cultural milieu that is conducive for girl child’s survival and monitor the activities of commercial minded techno-docs thriving on sexist prejudices. Then only we will be able to halt the process of declining sex ratio resulting into deficit of girls/women.

Slogans of Women’s Rights Movement:

22 Slogans of Women’s Rights Movement “Eliminate Inequality, not Women”. “Destroy Dowry, not Daughters”. Daughter is not for Slaughter Say “No” to Sex-determination, Say “Yes” to Empowerment of Women. Say “No” to Sex Discrimination, Say “Yes” to Gender Justice .

PNDT Act, 1994:

23 PNDT Act, 1994 Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act was enacted in 1994 by the Centre followed by similar Acts by several state governments and union territories of India during 1988 (after Maharashtra legislation to regulate prenatal sex determination tests) and as a result of pressure created by Forum Against Sex-determination and Sex –preselection. But there was a gross violation of this central legislation.

Public Interest Litigation by Dr. Sabu ,CEHAT and MASUM:

24 Public Interest Litigation by Dr. Sabu ,CEHAT and MASUM In response to the public interest petition filed by Dr. Sabu George, Centre for Inquiry into Health and Allied Themes (Mumbai & Pune) and MASUM (Pune) and fought on their behalf by the Lawyers Collective (Delhi); the Supreme Court of India gave a directive on 4-5-2001 to all state governments to make an effective and prompt implementation of the Pre-natal Diagnostics Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act (enacted in 1994 and brought into operation from 1-1-1996).

The PNDT Amendment Act, 2002:

25 The PNDT Amendment Act, 2002 The Pre-natal Diagnostics Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Amendment Act, 2002 received the assent of the President of India on 17-1-2003. The Act provides “for the prohibition of sex selection, before or after conception, and for regulation of pre-natal diagnostic techniques for the purposes of detecting genetic abnormalities or metabolic disorders or sex-linked disorders and for the prevention of their misuse for sex determination leading to female foeticide and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”

Advertisement of SD test is Banned:

26 Advertisement of SD test is Banned Another important initiative that has been taken is against any institution or agency whose advertisement or displayed promotional poster or television serial is suggestive of any inviting gestures involving/supporting sex determination. MASUM, Pune made a complain to the Maharashtra State Women’s Commission against Balaji Telefilms because its top rated television serial’s episode telecast during February 2002 showed a young couple checking the sex of their unborn baby.

The PNDT Rules tighten the Screws:

27 The PNDT Rules tighten the Screws all bodies under PNDT Act namely Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratories or Genetic Clinic cannot function unless registered. They have to maintain records and send a complete report in respect of all pre-conception or pregnancy related procedures/ techniques/ tests by 5 th of the following month to the appropriate authorities. Vigilance Committees- Raids Record of the clinics, sonography machines, public education thro’ mass media, training programme, poster- campaign by the state.


28 THANK YOU DOWN WITH DISCRIMINATION Destroy dowry, not daughters SAY “NO” to Sex Selection Eliminate inequality, not women Get rid of prejudices, not girls Daughters are not for slaughter

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