Friday, March 30, 2012
Thursday, March 29, 2012
12 doctors in jail for violating foeticide Act
Akhil Chowdhury Jan 26, 2012, 03.37AM IST
MUMBAI: Twelve doctors were convicted and handed out prison terms in the last year for carrying out sex determination tests and non-registration of sonography machines in the state.
This is the first time that doctors have been sent to jail in the state for violating the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PCPNDT). Ever since the census reports were made public-Maharashtra has a dismal child sex ratio of 925 females per 1,000 males-the state government has taken various steps, including launching the 'Save the Girl Child' campaign, to prevent female foeticide.
The orders for the doctors' imprisonment were issued by judicial magistrate first class of the respective districts. All the convictions have taken place in the rich belt of western Maharashtra. A majority of the cases are from Sangli. The other districts include Solapur, Nanded and Kolhapur. In five cases, the vigilance squad used a decoy (a pregnant lady) to catch the radiologist red-handed while carrying out sex-determination tests and informing the patient about the child's sex. The other cases related to the non-registration of sonography machines.
In the last one year, the civic body sealed 39 sonography machines in Mumbai. Of these, 22 have been released. Officials said the last time doctors were convicted under the PCPNDT Act was in 2002. "Fourteen doctors from Pune were convicted, but were let off after paying a fine of Rs 1,000 each," said an official.
(This young editor was accompanied by Clara Lewis)
PNDT ActNew Delhi: As India celebrates the Day of the Girl Child on Tuesday, a major lapse in the implementation of Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act has come to light.
The Central Supervisory Board set up to monitor implementation of the Act has found that of the 94 doctors convicted under the Act, licences of only 15 have been cancelled by the Medical Council of India (MCI).
While the board has asked the MCI to expedite cancellation of licences, MCI chief Dr K K Talwar said he was not aware why the delay has happened. “We will find out. Our endeavour always is to clear backlog in such matters,” he said. The board has also urged professional bodies to evolve a code of conduct for their members to ensure they do not indulge in sex determination. The Health Ministry, on its part, has asked state governments to identify unregistered ultrasound machine, possessing of which has been made a punishable offence.
“We have taken a large number of initiatives in the last one year to ensure better implementation of PNDT Act. We are about to notify the ban on portable ultrasound machines except in registered medical institutes. We have also maintained that we are in favour of use of technology for the purpose but have not so far started recommending use of active tracker. It is up to the district authorities how they want to do it,” said joint secretary in the health ministry Anuradha Gupta.
The ministry, Gupta added, has commissioned a study on the efficacy of the active tracker on ultrasound machines, which sends data on the use of the machine....
Inexperienced lawyers losing cases booked under PC-PNDT Act: NGOs
By: Priyankka Deshpande
Of 158 cases related to illegal sex determination filed in state last year, conviction took place only in 18
UNTRAINED and inexperienced public prosecutors are responsible for the low conviction rate in cases booked under Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, allege NGOs working to curb female foeticide and sex determination tests.
Earlier, the city bureau of State Family Welfare Department (SFWD) agreed to give training to public prosecutors, but is not yet decided about it even though the year is coming to an end. The SFWD confirmed that 158 cases were filed last year in the state under the PCPNDT Act, but only in four out of 47 cases that were heard were the guilty awarded rigorous imprisonment and fined. In 14 cases, a penalty was slapped on the offenders.
The guilty had been booked for various offences such as advertising about sex determination tests and not maintaining records in their respective hospitals. Overall, conviction took place only in 18 cases last year in the state.
"The state government in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund has taken up the massive task of training judges about this act. Public prosecutors should also be given the same training, which will be useful while fighting the case for those (female foetus) who can't defend themselves in court," said Varsha Deshpande, founder of Satara-based NGO Lek Laadki.
She said that when cases are filed against the offenders, the progress till conviction is slow and majority of the cases are lost by the public prosecutors. "Our NGO has done as many as 35 sting operations in various hospitals of the state where sex determination practices were rampant," Deshpande said.
Kiran Moghe, president of All India Democratic Women Association, said: "Only trained public prosecutors are not enough, they should be experienced too." Moghe blamed the state government for its unwillingness to file cases against those involved in such illegal activities.
In the last 10 years, only in three cases the guilty were awarded both rigorous imprisonment and fine after they were caught red-handed carrying out pre-natal sex determination tests in sting operations. They were in Palwal district of Haryana in 2006, in Karad taluka of Satara and most recently in Pusegaon, Satara, where a doctor was awarded three years rigorous imprisonment and slapped with a fine of Rs 1.5 lakh, which is the harshest punishment till date.
A case can be registered against doctors for performing a test and revealing the sex of the foetus to the mother and also for not putting up notices that sex determination tests are illegal, not filling the mandatory F-form and not maintaining records
Only 6% of doctors held for sex-selection practices convictedKounteya Sinha, TNN Apr 20, 2011, 01.15am IST
(Only around 6% of cases filed against doctors involved in sex-selection practices in the 17 states, which have the most skewed sex ratio, have ended up in convictions till date.)
NEW DELHI: Only around 6% of cases filed against doctors involved in sex-selection practices in the 17 states, which have the most skewed sex ratio, have ended up in convictions till date.
According to Union health ministry's latest data — prepared for a crucial meeting of health secretaries of the 17 states on Wednesday — a total of 805 cases have been filed in court against doctors till March 31, ever since the revised Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act ( PC and PNDT Act) came into force. Only 55 convictions have been recorded since then.
The rest of the cases are either in progress or dropped for "poor investigation and insufficient evidence against the accused". Convictions were highest in Haryana (23), followed by Punjab (22), Gujarat (4), Maharashtra (3), Delhi (2) and Chandigarh (1). Interestingly, the highest number of cases against doctors was filed in Rajasthan (161), but none has resulted in conviction.
Maharashtra filed 139 cases, Punjab (112), Gujarat (82), Madhya Pradesh (70), Delhi (61), Uttar Pradesh and Haryana (54), Andhra Pradesh (19), Bihar (10), Uttaranchal (9), Chhattisgarh (5), Jharkhand (3) and Chandigarh (2).
Gujarat leads the pack in sealing of ultrasound machines (168), followed by Haryana (133). While, Maharashtra sealed 82 machines, Rajasthan (76), Orissa (68), Delhi (48), Punjab (26), UP (37), Jharkhand (13) and Andhra Pradesh (12).
"On Wednesday, the meeting will emphasize on following up on court cases, building a strong case for prosecution and putting in place the mechanism for legal assistance and engaging with state legal services authorities apart from training workshops for judiciary and public prosecutors," an official said.
Union health ministry Ghulam Nabi Azad has been very proactive in rectifying the nation's shameful sex ratio.
An official added, "India's conviction rates are shockingly low. That's because doctors who carry out the search and seizure operations aren't good with filing legal cases and presenting a full-proof investigation. Hence, violators go scot free."
On Wednesday, these 17 states will be told by the Union health ministry to identify and map their worst-affected districts, blocks and even localities.
Once identified, vigilance will be heightened in these places on doctors and clinics to "nab those involved in sex selection" in clinics or by use of portable ultrasound machines.
In the meeting — the first since the provisional Census figures were released — the states will also be told to register every ultrasound clinic and machine (portable or stationary) being used as per the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PC and PNDT Act). Violation of any provision in this Act will entail a three-year jail term and Rs 50,000 fine.
"States will be told to approach ultrasound manufacturers as per the Act to identify how many machines have been sold and to whom," sources told TOI.
Pressure will also be intensified on states to get every ultrasound clinic to fill up Form F. According to the Act, every radiologist is required to fill Form F before conducting an ultrasound on a would-be mother. The form has important questions, including the reason for conducting sonography along with details of the patient and the doctor.
Clinics that carry our prenatal selection and selective abortion leave most of the details incomplete, deliberately skipping sections mentioning the doctor's name, signature, the patient's address, age of the fetus and record of the would-be mother's previous children.
"A careful examination of the form — which doctor referred the patient and why, if the ground for an ultra sound test is vague and if it is self referred instead of a doctor — will tell us who is involved in sex determination," an official added.
States will also be told to improve or put in place inter-state, and more importantly inter-border coordination for regulating ultrasound clinics in border districts.
As per the agenda of the meeting, the states will be told to dedicate a PNDT cell in the state, follow up on court cases, set up of a state supervisory board, which will meet once every four months, notify a multi-member state appropriate authority and take action in case of default.
At the district level, some states have given the district collector supreme power, search and seize illegal and unregistered ultra sound machines while other states have put the chief medical officer in charge. Workshops to sensitize judiciary, public prosecutors and advisory committees will also be held.
A ministry official said, "The latest Census figures show that the female girl child is still a curse and unwanted. Their number has fallen to an all-time low since Independence. The sex ratio for 2011 stands at 914 girls — down from 927 girls for 1,000 boys in 2001."
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
I was born in a family where I was wanted. Never was I made to feel unwanted, because I am a girl. I and my sister grew up in a totally sheltered atmosphere. We both did everything and anything that we wanted to. Never were we told that we can’t do something because we are girls.
I studied to become a doctor. I got admission in a medical college in Pune. I remember the fear and excitement of going to live alone. All the dreams and excitement which I had while leaving the protected atmosphere of home.
I remember me first Kinetic Honda. I remember friends who always called me a “tomboy”. I remember going to police stations alone, when ever my kinetic was parked in a no-parking area and lifted up. I remember coming late at night from library. Those were the days of a free bird. I wish I could go back to those days. No tensions… no worries…. Only fun and yes a lot of studies.
I remember my love for novels. I remember being different … yes just different. Papa often told me, you go where no one else goes and you do opposite of what everyone else is doing. So yes in a way I was a rebel.
I remember my command on English language. I remember whenever anyone had to write a letter, they would come to me.
One incident which I distinctly remember is when one day overnight I decided to come back home for my study leave. Nothing was planned. I did not inform anyone .I just packed my books (17kgs in all) and climbed into a bus to Mumbai. There was a big traffic jam near LonaVala . We were told we might be stranded for 24 hours. It was before I got my first mobile. Now I am in a fix. No one knows where I am. So I just came down the bus with the bag of books on my shoulder, and walked a good maybe 10 kms to the railway station. There I climbed on the first local train to Mumbai which stopped. I did not have the ticket. The only thing I had with me was my confidence, and confidence on corruption in India, where anyways it would cheaper to bribe than to buy a new ticket. I reached Mumbai, and straight went to airport to buy I ticket to Delhi, only to be told that the fares had increased and I did not have enough money.
Life was fun. My mom and dad never tried to hold me back.
The Laying Stone Of My Struggles
Everything was wonderful, till I got married that is. It was an arranged marriage through newspaper. I do not know why I overlooked so many signs during my courtship period. Signs that my husband was a mama`s boy. Signs that my would be husband is very short tempered, and that my sister in laws are very egoistic, and it is they who rule the house.
I guess the last time I was happy was on the day of my marriage. Till date memories of those days make me cry. They were an end to a carefree and somewhat pampered life. It was the beginning of a struggle which would change me from an over protected daughter to a fighter, from a pessimist to an optimist, from someone who always gave up, to someone who learnt to fight the situations. Marriage was a turn in my life, which would expose me to the stark realities of outside life. Reality that despite all advances women in our society have to struggle, struggle to be born, to live, to eat, to study , even to live with self respect. And the struggle is most of the times with those very people who are supposed to ensure all these.
Reality that life is very different from what me all are made to believe. The stark reality that despite all talks about women empowerment, it is a far off dream, Reality that really no one cares or wants to do anything about it. Everyone is happy with things are, are even if they are not happy it is a “chalta hai “approach, which is running this country.
Reality that laws are there for the common man, so as to speak, still justice is more often than not out of reach of common women. That the very authorities who are sitting there to enforce the so called “women friendly laws” are not willing to enforce them. In fact it is they themselves who tell the women to forget justice as it is a lot of harassment and to learn to live with abuse. A reality that though laws are there, but the implementing system itself makes it a more of a harassment to fight abuse than to live with it. A Reality that most of us have accepted abuse as our way of life, and we do not feel that we can do anything about it.
STARTING OF TOUGH LIFE
MARRIAGE AND SOON AFTER
The day I stepped into my in laws house, I felt unwelcome. After all the rituals, I was shown my room. It was on the top floor of the house. The bed and the minimal furniture which my parents had given in dowry were there. Other than that the room was essentially empty. It had not even been dusted. The mattresses still had their covers on. Thank God at least someone had bothered to cover them up with a torn old bed sheet. This was the room which greeted me, the new bride into the home.
From the next day onwards taunts started appearing. Taunts for insufficient dowry, for not bringing Honda city car, for not getting a flat, and for bringing a used old Santro car in my dowry. I thought things will change with time; they did change but only for worse. A few days after marriage his massiji (mother`s sister) came to our home. She asked my mother in law “what has she got for you all ? After all you have brought a new bahu from a rich family, must have got many gifts” .My husband took her to the place where my undergarments were drying and said “this is what she has brought with her”
They had a maid for their home, but she was turned out on the next day after my marriage as now they had an educated maid, to do all the household work. I never protested, nor was I in a position to. My husband would shout at me for no reason and in front of anybody and everybody. He would get angry with me, if there was even one call from my parents or sister. On other hand sometimes he would demand in the middle of the night, that my parents should pay him a visit as he was now their son in law.
Life had changed totally. Now I was living in a constant fear. I was doing everything to please my in laws, to try to niche a place for myself in that house. But how much I ever tried, they were just not happy. Life was so unpredictable; I never knew what is coming next. Weather I am going to be shouted at or be raped. I still tried to love him. Sometimes he became unpredictably loving, at the very next moment he would get violent and starts throwing things around. My mother in law would just say “you keep quiet; women should not speak when their men are angry” I would yearn for those small moments when he showed he loved me. Till date I do not know, why I tolerated all the abuse.
I thought time will change him. I thought my love will improve the things. I thought perhaps children will soften him. I became pregnant. That was a day etched in my memory. I was on duty, when I checked …. And yes the pregnancy test was positive. I called him up and then my mom.
That very evening, I developed bleeding… and I was told to be on complete bed rest. But my husband refused to pick me up. My parents came to pick me, forced me to eat some rice, which I did not feel like, and then dropped me at my matrimonial home. What followed was another bout of shouting and violence. The violence continued and increased once it was known I am carrying twins. Now they wanted to know the gender of the babies. They wanted me to kill one of the babies if not both. I remember falling at mummyji`s feet, and begging her, please do not make my babies feel unwelcome even before they come to this earth.
Even before they were born, people were wishing them to die. I remember shielding my tummy with my hands when Kamal would shout at me, as if that would shield the babies from his shouting, as if that would stop them from hearing. I remember telling them their mother wants them, even if the entire world does not want them. I remember crying myself to sleep often. I was losing weight. One day when I went to my hospital, to give my medical certificate, one of my seniors asked me- what has happened to you, you look like a ghost.
And then after the abuse became too much, I decided to commit suicide. I could not kill my children before birth, I could just die with them. Just before taking the drastic step, I called up my father to bid him a farewell. I told him – forget it that you have 2 daughters, just think you had one. Think that rather than marrying me off, you cremated me. I remember the day and time very well. Kamal was watching t.v. obvious to all the hurt and pain he had been causing me.
I don’t know when papa called him up, and asked him to bring me back home. I just know his coming full of anger into the room, and dragging me into the car. I remember he was so rash , putting a sharp break every 5 minutes , and shouting all the way. Was this death… or was this my life.
After I was back to my parent’s house it was one hospital after another to save my pregnancy. I was now on complete bed rest to prevent an abortion. I remember mummy giving me something to eat every 2 hours even in the night to help me regain the weight lost. I remember crying in the wards, because every woman had her husband besides her, except me. I remember not wanting to go to the hospital, because I would feel jealous and self pity seeing other women so happy and being pampered in their delicate stage by pregnancy.
I also remember Kamal coming home and demanding an abortion. I also remember my mother telling Kamal that my parents will raise our daughters, but let them be born please. I remember Papa losing control over his anger, when I was admitted because of pre term pains and Kamal came there and started shouting for not letting the abortion happen. Papa told him if you can’t be a good husband, be a good doctor at least and leave Mitu alone. Alone he did leave me…. He never visited for weeks …
And then the babies came into this world. On 10th August 2005, I remember telling mummy, that I was having an intuition I am harming my daughters by continuing the pregnancy. The very next day I could not feel the movements. Ultrasound scan showed there was minimal fluid in both bags. My mother took me to the hospital, while my cousin was sent to pick my husband and inlaws from my matrimonial home.
I remember the doctor came to me before the caesarian and told me that if they do not operate right away I am sure to lose one baby as her heartbeat was irregular, and if we operated right away, both will be very preterm and under weight. I decided to go for the surgery. How could I knowingly kill one of my daughters? I was ready to fight for them both.
I remember the feeling when I heard Guddu`s cry when she was brought out. I was so happy. The feeling can’t be explained. But then when Pari was brought out, she did not cry and was taken by the pediatrician immediately to be resuscitated. I remember my heart praying for her to live. I wanted to get up from the operation theater and be with my daughter. Those few moments before she also cried were perhaps the most anxious moments for me.
I remember Kamal and his family left soon after I was shifted to the room. Kamal came to the hospital next morning, when mummy had gone to the temple, and started shouting. The doctor came on rounds just then , heard him shouting and tried to counsel him that in today’s world the gender of the child does not matter. I wish someone could explain him. I remember picking up my courage after the doctor left and I asked Kamal to seek help for his anger otherwise he will lose us three someday. I do not think he cared. In fact perhaps he wanted that.
I remember holding my daughters the first time I went to the nursery. I remember trying to feed them. And I remember crying when it would hurt too much. I remember everything as if yesterday. And then on 9th day all my in laws came to the hospital. Archana was going back to Singapore, and they stopped by. My aunts who were in the hospital at that time congratulated my sister in laws for being aunts of two daughters at one go, but then Archana said- God forbid such a moment comes again in my life, when I become the aunt of girls. To this mummyji replied- do not worry Archana these girls won’t survive, they are born in 7th month. So still they were praying that my daughters do not survive.
God knows how I spent the next almost three years trying to manage twins, Kamal`s anger outbursts , and the total rejection of the children by their paternal Grandparents and aunts. I know if my parents had not stood by me and supported me, I would have committed suicide.
I understand why so many female feticide do take place. When parents refuse to support their daughters , take her back into the very home where she was born and brought up- what choice is the poor women left with. The Indian society is also not very kind to separated women. It is a woman who is always at fault, if she moves out of the marriage. Even if she is not at fault, she is seen as an easy prey by the men.
I remember settling in the rented accommodation, which was taken on the advice of S.H.O . I remember shopping for everything from broom to spoon…. making the house as comfortable as possible for children and Kamal. I did not know what was in store for me. He threw me out …. HE HAD ENOUGH OF ME. HE WANTED SONS. I WAS A FAILURE. I DID NOT GIVE HIM SONS…. SO HE WANTED A NEW WIFE.
I remember the night he threw me out. Guddu Pari slept oblivious to the turmoil around them. They did not know our lives had changed for ever. They did not know their own father had disowned them. HE WANTED NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM. I remember his dialogue you and your daughters stay with your parents now. I do not want to see you all again. I have no relationship with either of you.
What happened after I moved out of my in-lawsà reactions and counteractions?
- After I was turned out of the rented accommodation I went to the Vikas Puri, police station. Reaction of the police man on duty- it is a family matter, try to settle it by talking in the family. You want get anything if you come here. As it is your matter is being pursued in Crime against women cell- so we will send the matter there. There is therefore no use in giving any complaint here.
- In crime against women cellà during mediation –
Filling a complaint against your in-laws or trying to go to the courts will be harassment for you only. It is like walking along the beach with sand in hand. You will continue to feel everything is in your hands, and will never even realize when your hands become empty. So do a settlement and go back to your husband.
They are ready to give you a flat and 45 lakhs in each daughters name if you give him a mutual divorce. Forget all this- no one has got anything by going to courts, laws are written in books only. Forget it, take the money and be happy.
- During mediation in courtsà so what if you and your daughters get killed, your parents can use the law then. Try to save your marriage, go and live with your husband.
- In the office of C.D.M.O (where my complaint under P.N.D.T act was pendingà so what if your husband wants a son, give him one. This is not a reason to destroy your own life and your daughter’s life. You young people take steps in the enthusiasm of youth and repent all your life. This is such a big hospital, if we seal the ultrasound machine, and some casualty occurs, you will be responsible for it. So better forget this P.N.D.T. complaint and re-unite with your husband and give him a son.
- A.C.P. Tilaknagarà My own brother was assaulted by goons, I Never filed a complaint. Going to police / courts will give you nothing except harassment. Dr. I can give you guarantee, even if you die, you will not get any justice.
- A lady leader of B.J.Pà You forget about the courts. If you are interested in doing something for the girl child, open a N.G.O. in all of our lives, there comes a moment which changes the path of our life. Perhaps your marriage was such a moment. Take it as that, forget about it, open a N.G.O and live peacefully with your husband.
- A senior official from N.C.W. – your daughters are alive. Forget about the P.N.D.T complaint. Do not dig graves of old matters. You will suffer. File a complaint under domestic violence act and withdraw your complaint under P.N.D.T act.
- Different Judgesà
- If you want to save your daughters from harassment, withdraw your cases and do a settlement with your husband. Otherwise I will see to it that you have to bring your daughters to the court on every hearing.
- Laws are meant only for books and lectures. Do not think you will get anything from the courts.
- Tell your price à what you will take to withdraw your cases.
- You are enemy of your daughters; you are destroying their life only because of your ego….
The problem cannot be solved by making laws , unless and until the law enforcers change their mindset.
Today I am a complainant under the P.N.D.T act , my husband and in laws deceived me into a fetal ultrasound. (details on mitukhurana.wordpress.com and savedaughters19.wordpress.com). Every authority from police, to district medical officer, to our Honorable Judges, are treating me as the culprit and all the accused as victims. According to all of them, desire for a son is something very natural, and a woman dragging her in laws to court for this is unthinkable.
the only support I have is from my parents and a handful of individuals. There is no support from any authority/public/civil society.
How can any women/mother dare to save her daughters. The fight to save my daughters, which started as a fight against my husband and inlaws , has become a fight against the authorities.
There are two petitions which have been started after ABC(American Broadcasting Company) telecasted in 20/20 -
the reason for declining sex ratios- http://tehelka.com/story_main51.asp?filename=Ne040212Lack.asp