Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The first conviction and imprisonment for female foeticide in India

After five years of litigation a court has sentenced a doctor in Palwal, Haryana to jail for having disclosed the sex of an unborn baby and offering to destroy it. In 2001 a government team had sent a decoy customer to the clinic of Dr. Anil Sabhani's clinic. They had taken an audio recording of the doctor's disclosure of the foetus' sex and his offering to destroy it. Dr. Rekha Mishra and Dr. Paul Mendiratta who form part of the government team told NDTV that they were under pressure from various quarters to drop the case. Hats off to them for persevering. May their tribe increase. The unborn Indian girl child needs friends like Mishra and Mendiratta.

My mind goes back to some incidents I have seen or heard about:

When I was a pre-teen living in a colony of Army officers in Alwar, Rajasthan I remember a middle aged Lieutenant and his family. His age and that of his family members indicated that he had been promoted from the ranks. If I am not wrong when we reached Alwar he and his wife had three daughters. We left Alwar for Shillong three and a half years later. At that time they had seven daughters and no son. Those were the days when we did not have ultrasound machines. I wonder whether he continued trying for the son he wanted so badly .

I remember hearing about another case where a wife was given some medication to destroy a seven month old foetus in her womb. When the dead child was delivered it turned out to be a boy. The ultrasound machine had erred. They had been told that the foetus was female. The poor lady lost her sanity as she had been under immense pressure from her husband and in-laws to deliver a male child after two daughters, or else.

I remember congratulating an acquaintance when he told me that his wife had given birth to a baby girl. He looked at me in a strange sort of way. "You shouldn't have done that," said a friend "he is going through a lot of trauma as he hasn't got a son."

A friend told me that her father was mocked when he distributed sweets when she was born and also when her sisters were born. I went through the same experience when my nieces were born and I distributed sweets. Many were unable to understand why I was distributing sweets but I must say that there were many who were very happy that I did so.

The NDTV link.