Govt considering amending law to prevent female foeticide: Ramadoss

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New Delhi, Apr 28 (UNI) In view of the declining sex ratio in the country, the Government today launched a toll free number, to get information and complaints against the violators of Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act and also considering amending the law to ensure its effective implementation, Health Minister Anbumoni Ramadoss said today.

A teleserial titled 'Atmajaa' (a story of a girl) is being launched to reach out more to middle class households in which the problem is acute while PNDT website is being put up for information and awareness, he said while addressing a National Conference on Save the Girl Child.

He said to curb female foeticide by misusing ultrasound machines, the Health Ministry was considering amendments to the PC&PNDT Act like graded punishment, designating District Collectors as appropriate authorities, accrediting qualification for the medical professionals to handle these diagnostic techniques, etc.

Expresing concern over the declining sex ratio, the Minister appealed the medical fraternity to refrain from encouraging sex selection attitude. He also requested the Health Ministers of all the States to give topmost priority to this important national issue and to take measures to reverse the declining child sex ratio.

However, legislation alone cannot solve the problem of sex selection practices and its impact on the adverse sex ratio, he pointed out and said that at the heart of the problem was the deep rooted prejudices and the patriarchal social framework and a value system based on son preference.

''Given the socio-cultural context and deep-rooted prejudices what is needed is a change in the collective consciousness,'' he said. The long-term solution to this problem lies in creating the right environment where sons and daughters are equally valued. This can be achieved by creating awareness about the gender equality through advocacy and communication efforts along with empowering the women suitably.

He enumerated steps taken by the Ministry for strict implementation of the Act as well as for creating awareness and sensitization. Significant ones are release of funds to Members of Parliament at Rs 5 lakhs for their constituency in the vulnerable States, sensitization of judiciary through National Judicial Academy, launching of the campaign to save the girl child by the President. Save the Girl Child programme has been proposed to be included under the umbrella of NRHM for which a comprehensive Action Plan has been drafted.

UNI AJ RC HT1620

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