FEMALE FOETICIDE: DENIAL OF RIGHT TO BE BORN OF A FEMALE CHILD

Female feticide–the selective abortion of female fetuses–is killing upwards of one million females in India annually with far-ranging and tragic consequences. Foeticide is an act that causes death of the fetus. In a legal context it is referred as ‘Fatal Homicide’ or ‘Child destruction’.  India is the only country of world where the ratio of woman to man has been dwindling over the years. Sex selective abortion is responsible for the death of almost 7,000 unborn baby girls in India every day. The Maharashtra Government estimated 45,000 abortions were carried out in Greater Bombay region only in the year of 1985. At least 16 districts across the country have a sex ratio of less than 800 women for every 1000 men. The reason is patriarchal society where sons are considered to offer security to their families in old age and can perform the rites for the souls of deceased parents and ancestors, daughters are perceived as a social and economic burden.

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Women’s are not only facing inequality, they are even denied right to be born whereas Constitution of India provides right to life, equality, no discrimination on the basis of sex and positive discriminatory provisions for women. And Indian Penal Code (sec 312 -318) deals with the offences against unborn child. And female foeticide is an offence against unborn child. The Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 (PNDT ACT) specifically prohibits advertisement relating to pre-natal sex and provides punishment and penalties for violation of provisions of this Act. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 provides provisions relating to termination of pregnancy.  Pregnancy may be terminated by registered medical practitioner only if he in good faith believes continuation of pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the woman and there is a substantial risk that child will born with some physical or mental abnormalities. Sex determination test is one of the most important reasons of Female foeticide in India. The pre-conception and pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition to sex selection) Act (PCPNDT ACT) 2003 was enacted with the purpose of preventing the misuse of ultrasound technologies that enabled determination of sex of a child before it is born.  While abortion is legal in India, it is a crime to abort a pregnancy solely because the foetus is female.

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Post Contributed By:

RUPA PRADHAN

ASST. PROF. OF LAW

Indian Institute of Legal Studies

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