International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences Volvo 1 Issue 1 January 2006 Female Fitted and Infanticide in India: An Analysis of Crimes against Girl Children Seen Lata Tendons and Rene Sharma’s University of Delhi, Delhi, India Abstract Sex selective abortions and increase in the number of female infanticide cases have become a significant social phenomenon in several parts of India. It transcends all castes, class and communities and even the North South dichotomy. The girl children become target of attack even before they are born.
Numerous scholars have observed that the latest advances in modern deiced sciences – the tests like Amniocentesis and Ultra-iconography which were originally designed for detection of congenital abnormalities of the fetus, are being misused for knowing the sex of the fetus with the intention of aborting it if it happens to be that of a female. The worst situation is when these abortions are carried out well beyond the safe period of 12 weeks endangering the women’s life.
This paper theoretically analyses the magnitude of the incidence of female fitted and infanticide in India. Keywords: Fitted; Infanticide; Ultra-iconography; sex selective abortion; crimes against girl children Female Fitted Incidence and Magnitude Sex selective abortions cases have become a significant social phenomenon in several parts of India. It transcends all castes, class and communities and even the North South dichotomy. The girl children become target of attack even before they are born.
Ditz, (1988) states that in a well- known Abortion Centre in Iambi, after undertaking the sex determination tests, out of the 1 5,914 abortions performed during 1984-85 almost 100 per cent were those of girl footsies. Similarly, a survey report of women’s centre in Iambi found that out f 8,000 footsies aborted in six city hospitals 7,999 footsies were of girls (Gangrene, 1988: 63-70). It is reported that about 4,000 female babies are aborted in Tamil Nadia (southern India) every year. Sex determination tests are widely resorted to even in the remotest rural areas.
Since most deliveries in rural areas take place at home there is no record of the exact number of births/deaths that take place. Therefore, it is difficult to assess the magnitude of the problem. However, the fact remains that 1 2 Professor, Department of Social Work, University of Delhi, Delhi – 110007 Department f Social Work, University of Delhi, Delhi – 110007 the right to be born are being denied to the female child. Since all religions treated abortion as immoral, and contrary to divine law, this blanket ban on abortion, resulted in illegal abortions and risking the life of the woman.
Though a series of government circulars banned the sex determination tests from 1977 onwards yet a title study conducted in Iambi by Janssen Giuliani (1986) brought to lag that 84 per cent of the gynecologist admitted to having performed the amniocentesis tests for sex determination. Of these 74 per cent gynecologist had darted performing the test since 1982 and only a few cases of genetic defects were detected. The overwhelming majority of ‘patients’, most of whom were from middle or upper middle class, were only interested in knowing the sex of the fetus.
Interestingly, Bandager (2003: 2075-2081) found that 64 per cent of the abortion service providers were against sex selective abortions; 10 per cent said they were against it but had to do it and the rest about 24 per cent approved the practice of sex selective abortions. Although there was not much variation among service providers irking in public/private health care facilities or rural/urban location but difference was found among men and women service providers. About 28 per cent men approved of sex selective abortion practice whereas it was only 17 per cent in case of women providers.
Thus it was higher percentage of women providers (68 per cent) compared to men (61 per cent) who were against such a practice. Those who disapproved of the practice of sex selective abortions but engaged in it against their principles expressed their compulsions and helplessness for two reasons: 1 . Due to erasures arising out of unhealthy competition in the health care service sector it was said that if they did not provide abortion care services, some others would have provided them, and 2. Implications in terms of persistent abuse and exploitation that the women have to face back home in case they did not get the abortion done.
Many talked of compulsions that women have at their ends to go for sex selection abortions. These arise either out of social norms fostering son preference or because their lives are put at stake in case they do not produce a son. Some also said that unwanted girls ran the risk of severe ill treatment at their natal homes causing them emotional and mental trauma. Hence the service providers empathetic with the woman’s social needs for sex selective abortions (Economic and Political Weekly, 2003). Nearly 10,000 cases of female fitted have been reported from Mohammedan alone (Gangrene, 1988: 63-70).
Additional threat that causes grave concern is the development of new predilection techniques, such as, Electrophoresis, Erection’s method, etc. , which involve prior manipulation of the sex of the child. What will be the future of the female race is a moot question. There is dearth of empirical data on this subject. Sections 312-316 of the Indian Penal Code (PC) deal with miscarriage and death of an unborn child and depending on the severity and intention with which the crime is committed, the penalties range from seven years to life imprisonment for fourteen years and fine.
Legal Provisions Until 1970 the provisions contained in the Indian Penal Code (PC) governed the law on abortion. The Indian Penal Code 1860 permitted ‘legal abortions’ did without criminal intent and in good faith for the express purpose of saving the life of the mother. Liberation’s of abortion laws was also advocated as one of the measures of population control. With these considerations, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act was passed in July 1971 , which came into torte in April 1972.
This law was conceived as a tool to let the pregnant women decide on the number and frequency of children. It further gave them the right to decide on having or not having the child. However, this good intentioned step was being used to force women to abort the female child. In order to do away with lacunae inherent in previous legislation, the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act had to be passed in 1994, which came into force in January 1996. The Act prohibited determination of sex of the fetus and stated punishment for the violation of the provisions.
It also provided for mandatory registration of genetic counseling centers, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. Thus both these laws were meant to protect the childbearing function of the woman and legitimate the purpose for which pre-natal tests and abortions could be carried out. However, in practice we find that these provisions have been misused and are proving against the interest of the females. Female Infanticide Another form f eliminating the girl child has been the practice of female infanticide.
It is a deliberate and intentional act of killing a female child within one year of its birth either directly by using poisonous organic and inorganic chemicals or indirectly by deliberate neglect to feed the infant by either one of the parent’s or other family members or neighbors or by the midwife. Kowloon (1990) defines infanticide as, “Killing of an entirely dependent child under “one year of age” who is killed by mother, parent’s or others in whose care the child is entrusted”. It is unfortunate that the parent’s also view her as a liability.
This attitude is rooted in a complex set of social, cultural, and economic factors. It is the dowry system, lack of economic independence, social customs and traditions that have relegated the female to a secondary status. The degree may vary but the neglect of the girl child and discrimination goes hand-in- hand. It is reported that female infanticide existed in India since 1789 in several districts of Restaurants; along the western shores in Gujarat – Sugar and Ketch; and among a clan of Ragouts in eastern part of Attar Pradesh.
Ideas (1988) reported that female infanticide was so widespread in Jade (Ragout) implies of Ketch and Sarasota that only five of such families were found who had not killed their ‘new-born’ daughters. There are alarming reports of the baby girls being murdered even in areas where this practice did not exist earlier. Poverty, ignorance of family planning, cost of dowry, etc. Have been reported as the possible causes for this crime (Tendon, 1999: 46-57). Prevalence of female infanticide, in the post independence period, has been reported from Modular district of Tamil Nadia (southern India), Briar, Arioso, Restaurants and Maharajah’s.
According to Chunk and Threat (1997) here is a contagious female infanticide belt’ that starts from Modular, extends across the districts of Dingily, Kara, Erode, Salem, Triumphal to North Arcos districts of Tamil Nadia. Official records indicate that 1,747 female infants have been killed since 1989 in 19 blocks of Salem district alone. Government hospital records show that out of the 600 girl babies born among Scalars, 570 babies vanish every year and out of these, 450 are victims of infanticide (Krishna Kumar, 1992).
Based on researches conducted in 12 villages took Kappa block, rotor N n Arcos Mamboed strict in Tamil Nadia, George et al. (1992) reported that among the 56 deaths, 23 were of males and 33 of females. Out of the 33 female deaths 19 cases were of infanticide and 17 of these occurred within 7 days of birth. Except one, all other cases involved death of a higher birth order child. Normally it was the second or third girl child who became victim of infanticide. In Erode and Salem districts of Tamil Nadia, this practice is found to be widely prevalent.
Out of the 1,250 families interviewed more than 5. 1 per cent were found to have practiced it over the last two years (Cravings, 1992). In Tamil Nadia, the overall Juvenile sex ratio has fallen down sharply from 948 1991 to 939 in 2001 (census of India 2001). Seen (1989: 123-149) estimated that about 30 million women were missing from the Indian population. Such violent criminal acts have attacked the dignity of women as human beings and have left them more vulnerable and fearful (see Utilitarian and Sharked, 2002; and Kaput, 1995: 246-257).
A study conducted by Premier and Raja (1996) in Behind district in Madhya Pradesh and Farmer and Jailers districts in Restaurants found that female infanticide was community specific. Villages that were inhabited entirely or redundantly by Sugars, Hydras (Air) and the Ragouts had the lowest sex ratio. In multi-caste villages the chances of female infanticide reduced very substantially. The twin process of ‘elimination of unborn daughters’ and the ‘slow killing through neglect and discrimination of those that are born has become a matter of concern.
Female Fitted and Infanticide: State-wise incidence Analysis of Crime against Girl Children According to Crime in India (2000) fitted cases reported an increase by 49. 2 per cent over previous year and infanticide cases increased by 19. 5 per cent over previous year. However, state-wise analysis reveals wide variation from state to state. Table I shows that not a single case of fitted or infanticide has been reported from Raunchy Pradesh, GAO, Himalaya Pradesh Maniple, Mozart, England, Tripper and surprisingly even Attar Pradesh.
States of Assam, Gujarat, Jam and Kashmir, Kraal, Megalith, Punjab, Skim, Tamil Nadia, and West Bengal have reported only infanticide cases and no fitted cases have been reported from these states, whereas only fitted cases have been reported from Arioso and Changing. It is worthwhile exploring why crimes against the born and the unborn o not exist in some states and why some states have reported only infanticide cases or only fitted cases. Can it be because of non-reporting of cases or because of cultural and social variations that may be specific to these states?
These are some of the issues that need to be looked into. Among the states/Union Territories (come directly under central government rule) that report prevalence of both infanticide and fitted, the highest rate of prevalence is found in the states of Maharajah’s, followed by Madhya Pradesh, Andorra Pradesh, Restaurants, Harlan, Briar and the Union Territory of Delhi. Table 1: Incidence (l) Percentage Contribution to All India (P) of Crimes Committed Against Children during 2000 (State and UT-Wise) SSL. No.