09 February 2011
By Malathy Iyer
Tickets to Dubai are cheap at Rs 4,000 each way and the pink-and-blue test costs around $25. The website of laboratory firm Medsol states that it offers the tests in Dubai , Sharjah , Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. It appears that Sonal and many others have worked out an economical way of beating the Indian ban on sex determination during pregnancy. "Patients come to us with printouts of such online advertisements and ask if these tests are good," said gynaecologist Dr Kiran Coelho,adding that it is wellknown that such genetic tests are banned in India.
Another doctor says that the patients who come with such information rarely return. "They have perhaps gone ahead and done what they wanted in complete disregard of the local rules," the doctor added. Abortion is legal in India till the foetus is 20 weeks old. Doctors call this reverse reproductive tourism. In other words, even though India is a hub of reproductive tourism, Indians are at the same time seeking out similar services abroad.
Infertility specialist Dr Aniruddha Malpani points out that India is at the moment the preferred destination of couples seeking infertility treatment. "Foreign couples come here seeking treatment either because the cost is very high in their country or because the law bans surrogacy. This is called reproductive tourism," he said.
Indian laws don’t permit sex selection because of the poor children’s sex ratio in the country where barely 913 girls are born for every 1,000 boys. An audit is maintained of the scans done on all ultrasonography machines in a bid to check any wrongd oing . Yet fami liescrazy for a boy child seem to be working out new ways to eliminate the girl child. "The gene test can be booked online, but it is not always possible due to technical reasons. So, couples find that going to Dubai or Singapore is an equally affordable option," said a doctor who doesn’t want to be named.
The Indian government can do little. It has banned certain internet sites and is working on banning some more. But, experts point out that such bans don’t work as people can work around such technicalities.