Honourable Shri. Prithviraj Chavan,
Chief Minister ,Maharashtra State
Forum against Sex Selection (FASS) is a network with over 50 Ngo’s and individual members . FASS has conducted interactive workshops to discuss its perspective and plan strategies to take the FASS campaign forward and to understand challenges to implementing the PCPNDT Act. Apart from improving the sex ratio, the main thrust of the FASS campaign is to strengthen the overall position of women in our State and to enable women to live with dignity, in anon-discriminatory environment.
We appreciate your efforts to stop the violations of PCPNDT Act and the brazenness of the doctors conducting sex determination tests and subsequent illegal abortions.
We are deeply concerned & apprehensive of the dwindling sex ratio all over Maharashtra and demand serious attention of the Government in protecting the girl child and all the women related health issues.
As you are aware the women’s organizations have been trying to draw your attention to female feticide practices in various districts of Maharashtra, in some districts such as Beed, Parbhani, Kolhapur etc. the sex selection has reached to disproportionate heights resulting in alarming discrimination of the girl child. In the light of the heinous crimes being committed against women and the girl child we make following demands and suggestions and request you to give priority to this issue.
a ) We demand that utmost care be taken to implement the PCPNDT Act & punish the guilty persons causing, committing , assisting ins ex selection ; however care should be taken to not punish the victim women.
b ) The Government must carefully examine the registration of sonography machines and the records thereof. The doctors or the hospitals or clinics violating the provisions of PCPNDT act be brought to the Book & due legal action be taken immediately.
c ) The medical shops be directed to not to sell drugs & injections related to abortions & contraception without prescription of authorized doctors.
d) Immediate action against erring be taken. The doctors and clinics whose sonography machines are once sealed may not be allowed to use the same till their cases are over.
e ) More facilities be made available in Govt. and municipal hospitals for pregnant women including sonography, contraceptives, abortions and other medical issues.
f ) The women activists and organizations committed to the cause of prevention of sex selection and reproductive rights of women be included in the committees under PCPNDT Act.
g ) We demand that under no circumstances the right to abortion as stipulated in the MTP Act be curtailed.
h ) We draw your attention to the recent directive issued by State Chief Secretary Jayantkumar Banthia dated 4 June 2012 to curb sex selection cases. We demand that proper discussion be made with women activists and organizations before implementing the same.
I) Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1972. Safe abortion within the provisions of the MTP Act is the right of every woman. Access to safe abortion services has remained a challenge in India. An estimated 6.7 million abortions per year are performed in institutions not recognized by the government India continues to have among the highest maternal mortality rates in the world (254 per 100,000 live births per year). Up to 13% of these are caused by unsafe abortions, which is the third leading cause of maternal deaths
j ) There is also a need to monitor the functioning of Appropriate Authorities and ensure their proper functioning in coordination with the women organizations working on the issue of gender discrimination.
Limiting access to safe abortion methods only pushes women towards unsafe methods, thereby endangering their health and survival. Monitoring women buying pills from pharmacies is regressive as it undermines the confidentiality aspect of abortion and can lead to harassment of women at the hands of officials. Such regulations are discriminatory and curtail autonomy of women over their own body, right to dignity and right to benefit from advances of science, medicine and technology.
Sex selection is a phenomenon which emerges from gender discrimination and socio-economic bias. All efforts to prevent sex selection must seek to address issues of gender discrimination, but not further constrain women’s access to safe abortion services.
We urge the Government to focus on better implementation of the PCPNDT Act with diligent monitoring and supervision of technologies that have the potential to be misused.
We hope you will pay attention to those very urgent demands & take appropriate steps.
ForumAgainst Sex Selection (FASS), Mumbai
Core Group members
Dr. Kamakshi Bhate, Savitribai Phule GenderResource Centre (SPGRC)
Dr. A.L. Sharada, Population First
Dr. Nandita Shah, Akshara
Jyoti Mhapsekar, Stree Mukti Sanghatana
Adv Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Human Rights Lawyer and Activist
Lakshmi Menon, Women Networking
Pramod Nigudkar, Committed Communities Development Trust (CCDT)
Sneha Khandekar, SPGRC
Vaijayanti Bagwe, CCDT