Mumbai (AsiaNews) -
India's central government has identified about a hundred doctors who will be
sanctioned for carrying out selective abortions and female foeticides in the
The Health Ministry
sent the Medical Council of India a list of doctors who violated the 1994 Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic
Techniques Act, which bans prenatal sex determination tests and imposes
sentences of six months to five years on violators, plus the suspension or
cancellation of their medical license.
This is a positive
step, Dr Pascoal Carvalho told AsiaNews,
because "using strong deterrence measures can help prevent similar forms of
discrimination and punish the guilty."
According to the Children
in India 2012: A Statistical Appraisal, a study released by the Ministry
of Statistics and Programme Implementation, at least three million girls were
missing in 2011 as a result of selective abortions and female foeticide.
"This loss will have
serious moral, social and economic consequences," said Dr Carvalho, who is a member
of the Pontifical Academy for Life. "Choosing the sex [of newborns] is an
expression of the lack of respect for women, and one of the causes of rising
crimes against them."
Sadly, "in India, boys
are preferred to girls for cultural reasons and this is connected to economic factors,"
are educated and raised to become wives, but they can get married only if they
bring a dowry (money, jewels and various material goods). Even when they get
married, women have to give birth to a boy to earn respect.
In addition, in some
regions of India, the practice of sati
still occurs, whereby widows are expected to throw themselves on their husbands'
funeral pyre. Hindu tradition requires women to show devotion to their dead
husbands through voluntary self-immolation, a practice that allows families to
rid themselves of women who have become an economic burden.
A widespread 'culture
of death' underlies "selective abortions and female foeticides," Dr Carvalho
noted. "The Catholic Church instead promotes a culture of life through its
educational and health ministries. This way, it protects the life and dignity
of girls as well as defends, values and encourage young women and opposes all forms
of discrimination and violation of their rights."
What is more and contrary
to widespread belief, selective abortion and female foeticide are also
commonplace among middle and upper class Indians. "A study titled Skewed Sex
Rations in India: Physician, Heal Thyself found that there are more boys than girls in the families of medical
doctors," Dr Carvalho noted.