KOLKATA, known to be a bastion of progressive forces, hides in its womb a startling fact: one out of every six pregnancies end in sex selective malpractice — the official term for female foeticide. Evidence emerged when the Department of Health and the State Women’s Commission conducted a survey on pregnant women. Tallying the F-forms (issued by the government to gather details of pregnant women coming for tests) with the present status of would-be mothers, they were shocked to find that in nearly 16 percent cases, the target child was missing — circumstantial evidence that female foetuses are being aborted.
What kind of family still believes that unborn daughters must be sacrificed to make way for sons? … //
… Contrary to popular perception, it’s not poverty and lack of education which lead to this kind of selective abortion. A third of the families engaged in this malpractice are affluent, about 22 percent belong to the middle class.
“Sex determination is rare among slum dwellers,” says Arpita Guha Thakurta, who led the survey with five volunteers. Unborn children go missing here because of the mother’s malnutrition and anaemia. Neepa, a volunteer, was locked up by a family when she asked ‘disturbing’ questions. The city police commissioner had to intervene to set her free.
The survey has identified and indicted many clinics in Kolkata which offered incomplete and anomalous F-forms with false addresses of patients and most strikingly, omitted the reason for conducting the ultrasound. Dr Satyajit Chakraborty, deputy assistant director (clinical health), refuses to admit that these clinics are involved in female foeticide but says vigilance will be stepped up.
Dr Arati Basu Sengupta, veteran gynaecologist and former president of the Bengal Obstetric & Gynaecological Society, – insists that the problem is a grave one, especially when clinics and nursing homes are run by doctors themselves and they fall for the lure of easy money. “But the doctor is also under tremendous pressure from the patients,” she points out. (full text).