Female Foeticide: Let them see the world

Issues and Concerns

Right from her birth, a girl child is treated by the society, including her parents as a burden because of various traditional belief and misconceptions of the society.  The reaction of the family members is different towards the girl’s rights right from the birth.  Often, the girl is born and brought up in an atmosphere where the family would have rather preferred a boy in her place.  This attitude of acceptance to large extent affects her existence.  Those who survive are also discriminated against and neglected in numerous ways.

The bias is rooted in a complex set of religious, economical, social and cultural factors.  The degree of bias may vary but it definitely exists at various levels at different stages in girl’s life affecting the fundamental rights of the girl child to survival, development, protection and participation.  The mortality rate of young girls of different age groups is much higher than young boys because of the preference for male children, resulting in the neglect of girl children.  The hatred towards a girl child has grown up so much and brought into the system of eliminating the girl child – the vulnerable and unwanted gender, in the womb, before she sees the world. The sex ratio is already precarious owing to the discrimination against daughters.  Abortion of unborn daughters is bound to accelerate the downward slide of female along the demographic ladder.

Thus, in our society where systematic neglect and discrimination against daughters and ‘son preference’ attitude are so deep-rooted, the very birth of the girl children and their survival are at stake leading to declining sex ratio. The pathetic situation is that women are forced to endanger their own species either in the womb by practicing female foeticide or at birth by practicing female infanticide or after birth by way of neglect. This also indicates the denial of women’s reproductive rights as human rights, which recognizes that personal freedom and social entitlements are essential to the advancement of human welfare.

Though the practice of killing female child soon after birth has existed in certain pockets of our country and more in particular communities, female foeticide – the practice of silent killing of female fetuses in womb is wide across regional boundaries and castes.

 Sex Determination Test:

The three major pre-natal diagnostic test that are being used as sex determination test are as follows:

  1. Amniocentesis
  2. Chorionic villi biopsy
  3. Ultrasonography

 After effects of these tests

 Amniocentesis:

  • The test procedure may damage the fetus and placenta resulting in spontaneous abortion and premature labour.
  • The test procedure may also lead to hip dislocation and respiratory complications.
  • Infection which may lead to acute or chronic pelvic inflammation
  • Bleeding during and after abortion, leading to anemia
  • Pulmonary embolism which may lead to death
  • Needle puncture mark on baby
  • Hip dislocation

Chorion Villous Biopsy:

  • Spontaneous abortion ( 4 to 12 per cent)
  • Wrong diagnosis (4 to 6 per cent)
  • Infection
  • Limb defects
  • Growth retardation of the fetus due to bleeding at the site of biopsy

 Ultrasonogram:

The margin of error in the case of sex determination though small leads to sex selective abortion regardless of the accuracy of sex determination.

Risk Factors Associated with Abortion:

Sex Selective Abortions are generally second trimester abortions as the sex of the unborn is known late.

Psychological problem, perforation of uterus, cervical tears, septicaemia, haemorrhage due to incomplete abortion or injury, chronic pelvic inflammation, shock due to haemorrhage, trauma or septicaemia, infection, infertility and even death are some of the abortion risks.

The conditions under which a pregnancy can be terminated:

  • Medical: Where continuation of the pregnancy might endanger the mother’s life and cause grave injury to her physical or mental health
  • Eugenic: Where there is substantial risk of the child being born with serious handicaps due to physical or mental abnormalities
  • Humanitarian: Where pregnancy is the result of rape
  • Failure of contraception

It is hereby requested of the general public to come forward to spread awareness about this social evil together with the Sakina Foundation’s campaign ‘Female Foeticide: Let them see the world’