Sex Determination: Charge Husbands, In-laws, Say Pune Doctors
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06 July 2011
Prominent members of the Maharashtra chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have demanded that rather than punish doctors alone, parents and others who seek sex determination tests should also be prosecuted under the law.
This demand has been made by Pune IMA president, Dr Ambrish Shahade, and past president, Dr Avinash Bhondwe.
“Doctors who are found guilty should be prosecuted according to the law; but the in-laws and the pregnant women should also be brought to book and penalised for forcing doctors to carry out sex determination tests,’’ Shahade said.
Speaking to DNA, former IMA president Bhondwe said, “Every time we find that some doctor is named, framed and punished. We strongly feel that doctors are not the only ones to be blamed. The pregnant woman, the in-laws and their husbands too are involved.
The primary aim of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994, is to enhance the declining ratio of females to males. There is a need to change the strategy to fight the declining ratio through awareness programmes where not only government bodies but NGOs and medical associations should come together,’’ he said.
Criminal charges were filed recently against two city doctors, Makarand Ranade of Sadashiv Peth and Nina Mathrani of Laxmi Road, for allegedly carrying out sex determination tests. They were booked after a sting operation was carried out by a social organisation, Janwadi Mahila Sangathan, in association with government authorities.
In a related action, the civic body suspended registrations and also sealed sonography machines of more than nine centres in the city recently. These centres were under close observation for nearly two months on charges of conducting sex determination tests.
Bhondwe suggested that a central registry of all pregnant women should be maintained by the civic body or the gram panchayat. It should be maintained from the time of confirmation of pregnancy in the early stage. The register may be maintained at any of the four places such as the family doctor, gynaecologist, pathology laboratory or a sonography clinic where the pregnancies are detected. The reporting of the pregnancy should be made mandatory to all the doctors involved, he said.
“People not doing the necessary registration of their pregnancy should be denied birth certificates by these institutes. We all know how important the birth certificate is. Hence, the registration will be done by everybody with some probable initial resistance,’’ he added.
Bhondwe suggested that the register must contain the information about the history of pregnancy of the woman, the sex of the previous children and whether it is her first, second or the third pregnancy. Once this information is collected, it will become easy to locate the probable women who may attempt sex determination and the consequences thereafter.
“They may be counselled, made aware and surveillance may be done for such would-be mothers,’’ he explained. Noting that ultra-sonography is not the only technique to diagnose the sex of a foetus, Bhondwe said amniocentesis and chorionic villi biopsy are used for the same purpose.
However, these are totally ignored by the authorities. These procedures are costly and not very handy, but they too should be under surveillance, he stressed.
The Pune IMA has already announced a prize of Rs1 lakh for informers who help nab errant doctors involved in female foeticide and sex determination tests. All 160 IMA branches across the state will participate in this initiative and help identify unscrupulous doctors.