Commitment, mindset change need of the hour: POCSO Judge
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Commitment, mindset change need of the hour: POCSO Judge

December 10, 2023

Preventing female foeticide, sex determination tests

Mysore/Mysuru: Even though determining the sex of the foetus before birth is illegal in India, sex-selective abortions persist due to a predominant cultural preference for sons.

With the passing of the 1994 Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, India made it illegal to reveal the sex of an unborn child except for strictly medical purposes, said Additional District and Sessions Judge Shayma Khamroz. She presides over the Fast Track Special Court (FTSC)-1 that hears Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Bill (POCSO) cases.

Speaking at a workshop organised to ‘Prevent female foeticide, the legal angle and the techniques used to combat the menace,’ she said, combating female infanticide and the misuse of sex determination tests requires sustained efforts at individual, community and societal levels.

The event was jointly organised by the Mysuru District Administration, Zilla Panchayat (ZP), District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) and District Health and Family Welfare Department at ZP Hall in city on Thursday.

Shayma Khamroz said, it involves challenging deep-seated cultural norms, improving education and economic opportunities for women and enforcing stringent legal measures.

A comprehensive approach that addresses the root causes and consequences is essential for creating lasting change, she opined.

“There are laws to prevent female foeticide and stringent provisions are present in the legal system. But the need of the hour is total implementation as female foeticide has a profound impact on the social structure,” Shayma Khamroz said.

Proper enforcement

Those in the legal and Police system must enforce and strengthen laws against sex determination and ensure strict penalties for those involved in these practices. There must be an increase in surveillance and monitoring of medical facilities to prevent illegal sex determination tests.

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In many households in India, girls are viewed as a social and financial burden, as their parents are often expected to spend substantial sums on dowries for their weddings. While social initiatives, awareness and combined with strict laws are making a significant impact in transforming people’s mindsets on women’s rights and female foeticide, India, with its vast size and diverse population, still has a long road ahead in achieving true gender equality, she added.

Calling upon the administrators to conduct workshops and seminars in communities to discuss the importance of gender equality and the negative consequences of female infanticide, she said that engaging community leaders and influencers will be a novel step against these practices. Cultural programmes must be organised to promote gender equality and challenge traditional norms that favour male children.

“Enforcers of the stringent provisions of law and other authorities concerned must establish anonymous hotlines for reporting cases of female foeticide and illegal sex determination tests. Also, we must leverage technology to track and identify regions with high incidences of these practices,” she added.

District Health Officer (DHO) Dr. P.C. Kumaraswamy, Family Welfare Officer Dr. Gopinath, District Surgeon Dr. T. Amarnath, Reproductive and Child Health Officer (RCHO) Dr. M.S. Jayanth,  Taluk Health Officers, Health Workers, Doctors from the public and private health sectors, and representatives from scanning centres were present.

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