Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 16


















That country and that nation which do not respect women have never become great, nor
will ever be in future. -Swami Vivekananda

Today, the world is confronted with many dilemmas affecting the life and health of people.
With the introduction of new technologies and the advent of globalization, privatization and
liberalization these problems have aggravated. The technological advancements appear to be
doing harm rather than bringing benefit to the human society. The situation becomes difficult
when law instead of controlling the situation, creates an opportunity for the perpetrators to
misuse or abuse technology.

Female foeticide and infanticide is a matter of grave concern because both are the worst form
of crime against the womanhood in contemporary Indian society. This is an insidious social
problem which is rooted deeply in Indian ethos since ages. The most shocking fact is that the
innovative and hard end technologies are brutally killing the female foetus and the girl child.
The term female foeticide in itself envelops myriads of meanings, it smacks of the fact that
(a) a girl is killed before she is born; (b) that sex of a foetus is determined to be that of a
female; (c) it acknowledges that there is technology privy to this heinous crime; (d) there are
doctors involved in first determining the sex of the baby, then carrying out abortion; and (e)
there is crime involved in violating not one but many laws: the Pre Natal Diagnostic
Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of misuse) 1994 Act, the section 307 IPC (of attempt
to murder) and along with the crime of abetment of murder etc.1

It speaks of a whole system gone corrupt, a whole society involved in conspiracy against
women, against destruction of half the population of society, at the hands of monstrous
practices becoming more and more rampant in a society fast losing its secular, social and
humanistic fabric. In today's materialistic world a woman is fast being relegated to the rank
of a commodity and marriage has become more of a business alliance than a sacred bond
between two people.

1 http://www.sikhspectrum.com/052006/foeticide.htm accessed on 31st Oct. 2017.

This has been the reason that sex ratio is 1000:914 among 0-6 year old boys and girls which
is declining day by day.2 In the era of science and technology people are being remedied from
rarest of rare diseases by medical science, however, this boon of medical science is being
misused. Today, people are carrying out abortion knowing the female sex by ultra-
sonography, amniotesis and other techniques. If baby girl takes birth, she deprived of love
and affection because she is abandoned to die on canals, coverts and footpath etc. Female
foeticide and infanticide is not the only issues with a girl child in India but also every stage of
life she is discriminated and neglected for the basic nutrition, education and living standard.
According to United Nations report in India 750,000 girls are aborted every year. Moreover,
in India more than 10,000 girl babies are victims of infanticide each year. Panjab and
Haryana are such states where the highest numbers of abortions (80%) are carried out every
year. If the cases of foeticide and infanticide continues, no longer a day will come when
Mother India will have no mothers, potentially, no life.


What are the causes of increasing incidents of female foeticide and

What are the existing legal provisions available?
What are the steps takes to curb such practices?


The Indian Economist and Noble Laureate Amartya Sen in his essay, More Than 100
Million Women Are Missing in the New York Review of Books in 1990, explains the
dreadful treatment of females (life expectancy, child mortality, literacy etc.) and discusses
about the low gender-ratio worldwide but comparatively this phenomenon is lesser in the
developed countries. Even in India some of the most economically advanced regions have
greater inequality than the less advanced regions. One of the main causes is deep rooted
religious and cultural norms which are providing basis to this gender gap. Internationally
there are approximately 105 to 106 boy children to every 100 girls; in India this ratio
2 Dhar, Arti, Apri 1,2011, At 914, Child Sex Ratio Is the Lowest since Independence, The Hindu, New Delhi, pp
drops as low as 100 boys to 86 girls. He further discusses some suggestions which can be
helpful in the elimination of gender-gap. Power within the family can enhance womens
status. Women who play an important role in the household are unlikely to raise conflict
issues regularly and routinely have unequal say to the breadwinner/producer in the
family. This is a crucial factor in continuing gender inequality; therefore, it needs to be
Prem Chowdhrys book The Veiled Women: Shifting Gender Equations in Rural
Haryana 1880-1990 (1994) is a gendered, cultural and economic history of colonialism
and of independent India in which women are both acted on and are agents in society and
history. This book examines the position of women in rural Haryana in north India.
Covering both Colonial and post-colonial periods, the book explores issues such as
participation of women in the processes of production and reproduction, their exclusion
from the control of resources and decision making, the resistance of patriarchal society to
a change in their legal position, their self-assertion and agency against heavy odds as well
as their complicity in the reconstruction of patriarchy.
Dr. Manohar Agnanis Missing Girls though small in size seeks to cover a vast area
of issues connected with female foeticide. It has chapters devoted to what the Census
2001 brought out in terms of states and districts with low sex ratio. For a person looking
for comparisons it gives a good foundation to compare the data now available in the
Census 2011.


The scope of this project is to study and analyze the instances and effects of Female foeticide
and infanticide in India and the steps takes to eliminate it.

To identify the nature and problem of female foeticide.

To explores the causes of foeticide and infanticide.
To examine status of remedial process and legal provisions to control female foeticide
and infanticide.


Approach to research

In this project, the researcher has adopted Doctrinal type of research. Doctrinal
research is essentially a library-based study, which means that the materials needed by
a researcher may be available in libraries, archives and other data-bases. The researcher
has used computer laboratory to get important data related to this topic. Help from
various websites were also taken.

Sources of data collection

Data has been collected from secondary sources like web sources. No primary sources
like survey data or field data were collected by the researcher.



In a "Normal World" the female population equals or slightly surpasses the number of males.
Except in India, that is, where the situation is just the opposite, where the gender ratio-or the
number of females to males is known to be among the most imbalanced in the world
especially among the people representing higher economic order. 3 Biologically for every 100
girls, 105 boys are born. In the first year after birth, through higher death rates among boys,
the figures ever out. So logically for 1000 women there should be 1000 men. UNICEF. 4 As
per 2011 Census, the national allage sex ratio (the number of females for every thousand
males) at 940 represents an improvement of seven points compared with 933 in the 2001
Census. Although this reflects a reversal of the declining sex ratio in many decades, it is
nowhere near the figure of 972 recorded way back in the 1901 Census. However, the "natural
sex ratio" should be above 1000. Socio-cultural factors impinge to distort the natural sex
numbers. According to United Nations, the world estimate of sex ratio in 2000 is 986 females
per 1000 males.

Figure No-1

Sex Ratio of India from 1901 to 2011

Among the feudal communities property/assets are considered to be the reason behind
female foeticide. These families with feudal set up and agriculture base do not meant their

3 Research Report on "Evidence based Causes of Female Foeticide Among Economically Well Off Communities
in Punjab: Strategies to Change the Mindset" by International Union for Health Promotion and Education,
Punjab Chapter, Ludhiana, Pg. No.4.
4 Female Foeticide: Myth & Reality by Anurag Agarwal, Pg. No. 3, 2003, Sterling Publishers Private Limited
property to get transferred to their son-in-law (under right to Property Act) hence, prefer to
get rid of the girl child at the first instance. A new acronym has been coined by Prof. Ashish
Bose which is called DEMARU-Daughter Eliminating Male Aspiring Rage by Ultrasound.
The DEMARU states are Punjab, Haryana, South Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and now Uttar
Pradesh can also be a part of this union. These states have a sharp decline in their sex ratios
from 1991 census to 2011 census as shown in the given table.

Child Sex Ratio in DEMARU States

States 1981 1991 2001 2011

Punjab 908 875 798 846
Haryana 902 879 819 830
Delhi 996 831 868 866
Himachal Pradesh 971 851 896 906
Uttar Pradesh 935 928 916 899
Source: Census of India, different years

It is indeed an irony that some physicians in India have been strong supporters of sex
selective abortions since their inception. Their argument include that it is the family's right to
make this personal decision that the mother will suffer if she has too many daughters. It is
better to get rid of an unwanted child than to make it suffer all its life. For supporters of
female foeticide the test appears to be the solution to a number of problems like population
control, dowry deaths, bride burning, sexual violence, physical abuse etc. They believe that
the reduced sex ratio will lead to an improvement in the status of women and dowry can be
replaced by bride price. The society is heading for a dangerous situation. Estimates suggest
that at least 5 million female foeticide operations are conducted every year in the country.
Female foeticide has its roots in social attitudes. If unchecked, foeticide may eventually
permanently damage the demographic balance in India. Upsetting the delicate balance will
prove to be catastrophic. It will haunt the country for generations.5

5 Female Foeticide: Myth & Reality by Anurag Agarwal, Pg. No. 8, 2003, Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd.


The declining sex ratio among 0-6-year-old children is alarming for future. So
Criminologists, Sociologists are trying to explore the reasons behind foeticide and
infanticide6. In which they have highlighted some major reasons which are following: -

Sex Selection and Technology: Medical technology like amniocentesis and ultrasonography
are being misused in India for knowing the sex of unborn child and subsequently for the sex
selection. Thus identifying female fetuses are aborted. A systematic study in Haryana
documented the inverse relationship between the number of ultrasound machines in an area
and the decline in the sex ratio. Studies have also documented correlations of low sex ratios
at birth with higher education, social class and economic status. Many studies have concluded
that prenatal sex determination, followed by abortion of female fetuses, is the most plausible
explanation for the low sex ratio at birth in India. The steady decline in the sex ratio suggests
that marked improvements in the economy and literacy rates do not seem to have had any
impact on this index. In fact, the availability of new technology and its easy access for the
urban, wealthy and the educated have worsened the trend and harmed the status of women in
Indian society.

Patriarchy and Prejudice: Indian society is male dominant society which is based on
patriarchy system and where males have key of authority. The system upholds the institutions
of male rule and privilege and mandates female subordination. Patriarchy manifests itself in
social, religious, legal, political and economic organization of society. It continues to strongly
influence Indian society, despite the constitutions attempts to bring about an egalitarian
social order. Patriarchal societies in most parts of India have translated their prejudice and
bigotry into a compulsive preference for boys and discrimination against the girl child. They
have also spawned practices such as female infanticide, dowry, bride-burning and sati. They
have led to neglect of nutrition, health care, education and employment for girls.

Ethical Blindness: The declining sex ratio cannot be simply viewed as a medical or legal
issue. It is embedded within the social construction of patriarchy and is reinforced by
tradition, culture and religion. Female foeticide and infanticide are just tip of iceberg; there is

6 Jacob, K.S., April 29,2011, Sex Ratio, Patriarchy, and Ethics, The Hindu, New Delhi, pp Editorial.
a whole set of subtle and blatant discriminatory practices against girls and women under
various pretext. It is the large base of discrimination against women that supports the
declining sex ratio. Many approach the problem superficially and focus on the declining sex
ratio and its medical and legal solutions. But those who seriously engage with the issues have
found that much unethical conduct that goes on, whether in ones social or work life, happens
because people are fooling themselves. Men, the dominant figures, and older women, who
have lost the battle and have joined hands to form the ruling coalition, overlook many
transgressions because it is in their interest to maintain the patriarchal goals, the ethical
implications of important decisions fade away. Such ethical fading results in engaging in or
condoning behavior that one would condemn if one were consciously aware of it.

Gender Inequality: Gender inequality is a burden on societies and is often socially

determined. The reduction in girl population is not because of the natural population divide
but a state that is arrived through conscious choices and the anti-girl child gender bias. It is
the paradox that it is the modern and globalised society that is promoting heinous practices
like female foeticide, infanticide, sex detection tests and induced abortions of female fetuses.
Womens work is also socially devalued with limited autonomy in decision-making. The
intersections of caste, class and gender worsen the situation. Despite its social construction,
patriarchal culture, reinforced by the major religions in the country, maintains its stronghold
on gender inequality.



India realized this problem during the 70s and started taking preventive measures to improve
the sex ratio, but still till 90s much of focus was not given except making some laws but now

it has been realized important to handle the situation as soon as possible or it would make
whole country to suffer drastic changes in the societies.7

Until 1970, the provisions contained in the Indian Panel Code (IPC) governed the law on
abortions. The Indian Penal Code 1860 permitted legal abortions done without criminal
intent and in good faith for the express purpose of saving the life of the mother. Liberalization
of abortion law was also advocated as one of the measures of population control. With these
considerations, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act was passed in July 1971, which
came into force in April 1972. This law was conceived as a tool to let the pregnant women
decide on the number and frequency of children. It further gave them the right to decide on
having or not having the child. However, this good intentioned step was being used to force
women to abort the female child. In order to do away with lacunae inherent in previous
legislation, the Pre-Natal Diagnostic techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act
had to be passed in 1994, which came into force in January 1996. The Act prohibited
determination of sex of the foetus and started punishment for the violation of the provisions.
It also provided for mandatory registration of genetic counselling centres, clinics, hospitals,
nursing homes, etc. both these laws were meant to protect the child-bearing function of the
women and legitimize the purpose for which pre-natal tests and abortions could be carried
out. However, in practice we find that these provisions have been misused and are proving
against the interest of the females.8

The Indian government has conceded that abortion may be carried out if there is-

Danger to the life of the mother if the pregnancy continues till the child birth,

Danger to the child by or risk of being born handicapped, or

If the woman has conceived the child as a result of rape.

Women are also allowed the right to abortion if they wish to do so in the interest of keeping
the family small. However, abortion has to be done within a specific period when it is I
difficult to identify the sex of the foetus. If the abortion is to be carried out after 16-18 weeks

7 Indian-Decline in Sex Ratio, Group 8 by Daniel Collins, Durgesh Kumar Singh &Yueh-Ting Liao, Pg. No. 15,
2010, Royal Institute of Technology.
8 Female Foeticide and Infanticide in India : An Analysis of Crimes Against Girl Children by Sneh Lata Tandon
and Ram Sharana, International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences, Vol 1, Issue 1, Jan. 2006.
of pregnancy, because of any medical reasons, the opinion of two doctors is a must. Unlike
abortions, female foeticide is usually done beyond the legal period i.e. when the foetus is
much older and developed and is done only because the foetus is a girl.

Female foeticide is a punishable offence in our country. The offenders (both doctor and
parents) may be imprisoned or fined or both. Month 3, 4 and 5 is when most female foeticide
take place. It is gross violation of many rights. The first is the right to life of the unborn child.
The second right violated is that of the womans right over her body. Often the decision not to
have the child is taken by the man (husband) or the family and the opinion of the mother who
painfully bears the child is rarely considered. At the macro level, this has an impact on the
sex ratio of the country.

The main law for prosecuting persons who are engaging in sex selective abortion is the Pre-
Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994. The PNDT
Act now stands renamed as the Pre- Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques
(Prohibition of Sex selection) Act from 2003.

It prohibits misuse and advertisement of pre-natal diagnostic techniques for determination

of sex of foetus, leading to female foeticide.

It permits and regulates the use of pre-natal diagnostic techniques for detection of specific
genetic abnormalities or disorders and use of such techniques only under certain conditions
and only by the registered institutions.

It provides for punishment for violation of the provisions given in the act.

The complaint made by any person should be first given to the appropriate authority with
the notice of not less than thirty days for proper action and with the intention to make a
complaint to the court.

The penalties were made up to 3 years in jail and a 10,000/- fine for the first offense and
5 years' imprisonment and 50,000/- for the second.9

Apart from this law, the following sections from the Indian Penal Code, 1860 are also
9 Indian-Decline in Sex Ratio, Group 8 by Daniel Collins, Durgesh Kumar Singh &Yuch-Ting Liao, pg. No. 15,
2010, Royal Institute of Technology.
When death is caused by a person (Section 299 and Section 300).

Voluntary cause a pregnant woman to miscarry the unborn baby (Section 312).

Act done with intent to prevent child being born alive or to cause it to die after birth
(Section 315).

Causing quick death of unborn child (Section 316).

Exposing and abandoning of child below 12 years (Section 317).

Concealing the birth of child by secretly disposing her/his body (Section 318).

The punishment for these offences extends from two years up to life imprisonment, or fine or

The impact of Indian laws on female foeticide and its enforcement is unclear. United Nations
Population Fund and Indias National Human Rights Commission, in 2009, asked the
Government of India to assess the impact of the law. The Public Health Foundation of India,
a premier research organization in its 2010 report, claimed a lack of awareness about the Act
in parts of India, inactive role of the appropriate Authorities, ambiguity among some clinics
that offer prenatal care services, and the role of a few medical practitioners in disregarding
the law. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India has targeted education and
media advertisements to reach clinics and professionals to increase awareness. The Indian
Medical Association has undertaken efforts to prevent prenatal sex-selection by giving its
members Beti Bachao (save the daughter) badges during its meetings and conferences.
However a recent study by Nandi and Deo lalikar (2013) argues that the 1994 PNDT Act may
have had a small impact by preventing 106,000 female foeticides over one decade.10

10 http://iasscore.in/national-issues/female-foeticide-and-infanticide accessed on 31st October, 2017


Women are wonderful! They are graceful!

They have compassion and concern for fellow beings!!

They are care takers of family & society!

They should be appreciated, admired, respected!!

Out of all serious problems and crimes exists in society, Female Foeticide and Infanticide is
also the similar nature of offence which has deeply rooted in our culture. Female Foeticide
is a recent manifesto against female foetus but Infanticide is not new. The history of abortion
has made evident that, the unwanted girl child killed by their own parents with using different
means. Female Foeticide has its roots in the social thinking which is fundamentally based

on certain erroneous notions, egocentric traditions, pervert perception of societal norms, and
obsession with ideas which are totally individualistic and the collective goods. All involved in
Female Foeticide deliberately forget to realize that when the fetters of the girl child are
destroyed, a woman of future is crucified. To, put it differently, the present generation invites
the sufferings on its own and also sows the seeds of suffering for the future generation, as in
ultimate eventuate, the sex ratio gets affected and leads to many fold social problems.

In India, Government has enacted separate social legislation for prevention of Female
Foeticide i.e. PCPNDT Act, but it has not worked out properly because it is not strictly
implemented in its true sense. The object of the law has also defeated due to lack of its proper
implementation. Though the law is a strong and powerful instrument to make social
transformation but it has failed to root out the problem of Female Foeticide from the society.

Though understanding the barriers for the social development and making the legislations is
one issue, its implementation is another one. To make the law successful the mindset of the
people needs change, which is really difficult, but not impossible task. It takes lot of churning
of the society and adaptation to the new definition for the changed role of the woman in
society. So, it is a long-term process, which bears on the attitudinal change. But can we wait
for so long to change? The actions are needed right now to discontinue the demographic
balance, and it can be achieved by eradicating evil practice of Female Foeticide and
Infanticide from society.



Review of Books, 1990
RURAL HARYANA 1880-1990, 1994
Dr. Manohar Agnanis Missing Girls, 2006