Codes reveal gender of unborn baby in illegal tests

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Old 07-Jun-2012
Codes reveal gender of unborn baby in illegal tests

UNP ImageMumbai Unscrupulous doctors in Mumbai are using codes to inform parents about the results of illegal sex determination tests.

If a woman is carrying a girl child, the doctor mails an image of a Barbie doll to parents who go through the tests to determine the gender of the unborn baby. This is just one of many codes to reveal a baby’s gender.

The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994, calls for strict action against sex-selective tests and abortion, but some doctors in the state continue to help parents eager to have a son and ready to abort a female foetus, says a Satara-based activist who has conducted 34 sting operations on sonography centres in the state.

Doctors carrying out sex determination tests are using everyday language and symbols to divulge the gender of the baby to wealthy families, says Varsha Deshpande, founder-member of Lek Ladki Abhiyan, an organisation working against sex determination tests since 2005. She is also the member of National Inspection Monitoring committee set up under the direction of the Supreme Court.

“If the woman is carrying a girl child, the doctor mails an image of a Barbie doll. If it is a boy, there will be a picture of a male doll,” says Deshpande, who has also gathered other codes doctors use. Among them, Monday is for a girl, Friday for boy, the number 16 for a boy, 19 for a girl and 29 for twin girls.

The results are shared mostly via email and are fuelling a business worth Rs15 billion, she says. “This is particularly worrying for a state like Maharashtra which loses 450,000 girls every 10 years, 50,000 every year and 148 every day.”

The serious issue has finally come into the open after the arrests of doctors conducting sex selective tests and abortions in Beed district where two aborted female fetuses were found in a garbage dump on Saturday. The recent crackdown also revealed how chemists were in cahoots with doctors in stocking up and illegally selling abortion pills.

Following this, the Maharashtra government announced the formation of special district-level squads to curb female foeticide cases. The directive was issued by Chief Secretary Jayantkumar Banthia after a video conference with senior health and police officials in Mumbai two days back. Banthia reviewed the recent cases of female foeticide in Beed, Solapur and Latur districts during the meeting. The squads will comprise officials from police, revenue and health departments and conduct inspection of sonography centres and abortion clinics. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to act against chemists.

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