| Brinda Karat at the launch of Sondori Kamala, the latest album of the all-women band Madal, in Calcutta. Picture by Aranya Sen
New Delhi, Sept. 14: Members of Parliament are ever ready to pay lip service against female foeticide, but don’t have the time to attend a meeting to discuss a law that curbs the practice.
All MPs from Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Rajasthan and Gujarat and all women MPs were special invitees to a meeting hosted by the health ministry for improving implementation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act.
Brinda Karat was the only woman MP out of 60 who was present. Out of 100-odd MPs from the states where female foeticide is rampant, a total of seven turned up.
“The number of special invitees who showed up reveals the sincerity of parliamentarians who apparently want to stop female foeticide,” said a ministry official.
“There is a complete lack of will at every level whether among politicians, doctors or radiologists,” a member of the Central Supervisory Board set up under the PNDT Act added.
At the meeting organised by health minister Anbumani Ramadoss and women and child development minister Renuka Chaudhury, it was also clear that few present were ready to deal sternly with doctors.
“Some of the MPs are actually promoting the doctors,” said Karat, who is a CPM MP.
Tarlochan Singh, an Akali Dal MP, had a heated argument with Sabu George, an activist with the Centre for Women’s Development Studies, after he said family members and pregnant women should be held responsible for female foeticide. Furious, George asked Singh if his son was a doctor in Punjab.
Singh was echoing what Indian Medical Association president Sanjeev Malik told a recent meeting to sensitise doctors to the declining sex ratio, health ministry sources revealed. “What he virtually said was that if there was a demand for pre-natal sex determination, then the doctors have little option other than to supply it,” an official said.
Punjab, Haryana and Delhi have the worst sex ratio in the country, which is continuing to dip despite amendments to the PNDT Act and surprise raids on clinics. Recently, a large number of female foetuses were found in a well behind a nursing home in Punjab.
“We seal the clinics and then the owner approaches the chief minister or the health minister and gets the clinic reopened. We are back to square one,” an official said.