Regulations and laws can only be deterrents,they cannot bring mature perspectives to the society
13 Mar, 2015

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The PNDT Act is a step towards saving the girl child in India, believes Zahabiya Khorakiwala, MD, Wockhardt Hospitals. She, as an empowered woman and a representative of the healthcare industry in India, shares her opinion about the controversial Act and ways by which it can be integrated in the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign in an interview with Raelene Kambli

What are your observations about the PNDT Act and its implementations?

The declining sex ratio and rampant female foeticide propelled the government to take some strict measures in the form of the PNDT Act. What ensued were stringent measures to ensure that no region in India, prosperous or not, facilitates pre-sex determination, doctors do not follow the practice, no undesired child sex abortion occurs, we have seen a considerable surge in the sex ratio in several areas, which is a good sign. However, one of the technology used for prenatal sex determination, i.e.ultrasound scan, is also used in the determination of ailments related to abdomen, kidney, heart etc., the control procedures on the use of these machines has also brought in some undesirable restrictions affecting the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases.

Do you agree that this act can be a catalyst for curbing sex determination and saving girl children in India? Kindly elaborate your view.

The Act has come up for some honest intentions. Indeed it has the power to curb the act female foeticide and save the girl child in India. However, it also depends on how well it is implemented. Also, this act is not a substitute for the awareness and education of masses about the subject , and incentivising the existence of the girl child in a family so that they are not considered as current or future liability, and is given due respect.

Regulations and laws can only be deterrents, they cannot bring mature perspectives to the society

How can this act be integrated in the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign launched by the Government of India?

The Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign launched recently by the government is a good push to spread the awareness on women safety. It is a good strategy to have synergy with the PNDT Act to reduce female foeticide. However, the programme implementation on the ground needs to be synchronised with a carrot and a stick approach to achieve the objectives.

What are the challenges in successful implementation of such a large scale programmes?

When one observes the sex ratio from several states, it will be noticed that prosperous regions of India has a worse sex ratio than rural areas. The challenge of implementation comes from the danger of losing focus in such elaborate programmes. In my view the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao programme still has a potential to be crispier and focussed , not only to meet some milestones, but also to systemically eliminate the problems.

How can this act be bettered?

Better implementation with increase in penetration is one of the ways. Doctors who were punished under this Act were asked to give lectures to patients and members of the community about how they should not have done what they did and also talk about the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign. That is a good idea to take forward. However, faulty implementation in the past has left a considerable amount of ill will in the medical community. There were cases where the doctors were harassed for some very minor issues of required documentation. In short, effort should be made to make the implementation easy and compliance hassle-free.

What is your message to the industry on this aspect?

If we wish to be considered a developed nation, our mindsets also needs to belong to the 21st century. One cannot ask for a well educated and progressive nation without contribution from females. Regulations and laws can only be deterrents, they cannot bring mature perspectives to the society. What would bring a change in actual are societal interventions and initiatives aimed at changing the mindsets and promoting equality of sexes.

Monday, March 13, 2015. Source: Financial Express

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