Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Sudam Munde, the doctor arrested for practicing illegal abortions in the third, fifth, sixth and eighth months of pregnancy, in the district of Beed (Maharashtra) will remain in prison. The women were all carrying girls and a young woman of 28 years died from the surgery. The Indian Supreme Court has denied him bail for at least another six months. His wife Saraswati Munde, his accomplice in illegal abortions, was instead granted bail, yet to be agreed. Pascoal Carvalho, a Mumbai doctor and member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the decision of the judges is a "strong message" that will serve "as a deterrent to those unscrupulous doctors who continue to practice the social evil that is female feticide."
Mr. and Mrs. Munde are infamous for what happened in their "clinic of horrors": the two managed an illegal abortions racket. To destroy the evidence, the fetuses were feed to their hunting dogs. The district of Beed is one of the areas with the lowest sex ratio (number of females per 1000 males) in India in the 0-6 age group: the 2011 census revealed there were 801 girls per 1000 boys. In 2001, the imbalance was 894 to 1000.
"For 2011 - said Dr. Carvalho - at least 3 million girls are missing in India, and we know that female feticide is widespread even among the educated and wealthy couples. Tests for sex determination, used to identify genetic abnormalities, were introduced in the country in the 70s. But these techniques have been exploited for selective female abortions. "
In 1994 the government enacted the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technologies (PNDT) Act, which makes it illegal to use these tests to determine the sex of the fetus. Under the law, doctors must submit a list of patients on which - for reasons of pure health - they have conducted the tests. Those who violate the decree may serve a term of up to three years in prison and to pay a fine of 10 thousand rupees (146 euro). However, the PNDT has not stopped the spread of female feticide and female infanticide.
The member of the Pontifical Academy identifies the causes of this phenomenon in the "patriarchal Indian culture" made of "domination, marginalization, exploitation and exclusion," which "generates a preference for male children." This, he adds, "produces a systematic gender discrimination, which devalues women early in their life, even before a baby is in the world."
Msgr. Agnelo Gracias, President of the Commission for the family of Indian bishops' conference, has termed the Beed episode "yet another case of discrimination and atrocities committed against children." However, he explains, "our indignation, justified as it is, should be directed at the larger issue - not just against abortion of female foetuses, but against all forms of abortion, whether it be the abortion of a male or a female child. Human life is sacred from the first moment of conception. Abortion destroys the respect for the sacredness of life. All should be banned". According to Msgr. Gracias, Auxiliary Bishop of Mumbai, if abortion is justified under the "right to choose" claimed by feminists, then "a woman should have the right to choose whether to have a child or not. Female feticide is the logic conclusion of the 'right to choose'. "