CURTAIN RAISER

CONFERENCE ON PRENATAL SEX SELECTION IN INDIA: ISSUES, CONCERNS AND ACTIONS

Dated: 11th October, 2010

There is no denial of the fact that sex selection, in particular, the deliberate elimination of girls through abortion, infanticide and neglect has resulted in skewed population sex ratios in a number of countries, specifically in Asia. The worst form among them is prenatal sex selection whereby female foetuses are selectively aborted after prenatal sex determination, thus shunning the birth of girls. India is no exception to this as it is increasingly becoming a common practice across the country to determine the sex of the unborn child or foetus and eliminate it if the foetus to be a female.

Being deeply concerned about the prenatal sex selection practice, the National Human Rights Commission is going to organize a one day Conference on "Prenatal Sex Selection in India: Issues, Concerns and Actions" at India International Centre (Main Auditorium), New Delhi at 9.30 a.m. on 12 October 2010

The National Human Rights Commission considers prenatal sex selection as a violation of women's human rights. In fact, the act of sex selection constitutes discrimination against women as a community. The practice has serious consequences for surviving girls and women in terms of physical and sexual violence, restriction on mobility and bride trafficking. Often it is considered that a woman, who may be forced to opt for sex selection, may go ahead with it, given her own powerlessness in the family where she will be deserted, divorced or abandoned, should she not give birth to a male child. Similarly, a man's right to marry leads him to purchase brides or assist in trafficking. But as a basic human rights principle, the rights of an individual cannot undermine the rights of the community. In short, a rights bearer cannot take human rights hostage to commit human rights abuses. The need of the hour therefore is to bring about a change in the mindset of the people whereby both girls and boys are treated at par. Along with changing the mindset of the people, it is also important to strengthen the implementation of the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994. In this endeavour, there is a need to involve other key stakeholders as well so that the practice of prenatal sex selection is eliminated.

The main objectives of the Conference are to:-

" critically analyze the existing problem of prenatal sex selection and declining number of girl children in India;
" create awareness about related issues, concerns and actions among key stakeholders;
" share the findings of the study entitled 'Research and Review to Strengthened Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act's Implementation Across Key States' jointly undertaken by NHRC and UNFPA; and
" discuss strategies for strengthening the implementation of the PCPNDT Act.

About 200-250 participants comprising senior and middle level government officers from the Ministries/Departments of Health & Family Welfare, Women & Child Development, Social Justice & Empowerment, Panchayati Raj Institutions, other allied Ministries/Departments; Chairpersons and Members of the National Commission for Women, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, other National Commissions; academicians, technical experts, social activists and senior/middle level representatives of international and voluntary organizations will attend the Conference.

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