Investigative

Volunteers in India go undercover to stop illegal sex-selection abortions

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In 1994, a federal law called the Pre-Conception Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique Act, was passed in India to ban sex-selective abortions. Due to the terminations of an alarming number of baby girls, the ratio in India has dropped to 888 women for every 1000 men. But families throughout the country are still going through with aborting their unborn daughters, and the doctors who perform the procedures are defying the law.

According to WomensENews, prior to 2010, in the state of Rajasthan, 54 sex-selective abortion cases had been filed under the sex-selective abortion law. But by July of 2012, the number of cases had jumped to 562. Twenty-three doctors have lost their licenses and the state has filed charges against 153 medical practitioners. This is thanks to pregnant volunteers who are going undercover to expose the illegal sex-selective abortion doctors.

Each of the volunteers visits a clinic for an ultrasound, telling the doctor that she wants to terminate the pregnancy if the baby is a girl. When the doctor or practitioner agrees, the women call in the team from the state who arrest the doctor. The women are then key witnesses in the court hearings against the abortionists.

These women are taking a huge risk by volunteering. In the time between the doctor’s arrest and the court hearing, many volunteers receive threats from the now free on bail abortionist in an attempt stop them from testifying.

According to WomensENews, one volunteer Rani Singh had a close call when the team that was supposed to enter the clinic and arrest the doctor was stuck in traffic. Singh feared she would have to come dangerously close to having the abortion. But she thought quickly and before they could bring her into the abortion room, she locked herself in the bathroom until the team finally arrived.

“We would not have been able to carry out these operations without the help of such women,” Kishanaram Easharwal, who heads the state unit charged with enforcing the Pre-Conception Pre- Natal Diagnostic Technique Act, told WomenENews. “They play a pivotal role and are our strength. So we do not reveal the identity of the pregnant woman who helps us although we release the news of the inspection and the names of those apprehended by our team.”

The state is currently considered offering financial rewards to the women who bravely volunteer. But for now women like Singh, are just happy to take part in closing down the clinics.

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