If we talk about India, in earlier times as far as our records can be traced in history, from around 200 to 700 AD, young men and women had the freedom to choose their own partners for marriage. However, as the state started intervening it tried to transform the lifestyle and opinion of its society gradually.Continue reading
By Nevin Clinton
The Uttar Pradesh Law Commission recently came up with a draft of a population control bill which vouches for a two-child policy. This bill has been the talk of the country for the past few days and it has turned out to be quite a controversial one. Social media has been abuzz with opinions on the bill as well as the statements made by the Law Commission and the Chief Minister of UP, Yogi Adityanath.
What does the bill say?
The Bill titled “Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilization and Welfare) Bill, 2021” states that for the purpose of population control, all couples in the state must keep up with a two-child policy. The Law Commission clarified that the policy was not mandatory and that couples can decide against adhering to the same. However, not following the policy will result in certain consequences such as the taking away of eligibility in government schemes and subsidies, applying for government jobs, and so on. It is noteworthy here that the bill is now open for suggestions for one week and if the bill is passed, it will become law after one year. Suggestions can be put forth through mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to the UP State Law Commission’s address.
What do the officials concerned say?
Chief Minister of UP, Yogi Adityanath said in a statement that population was the root cause of inequality in society. He further stated that such a bill and policy was necessary for an ‘advanced society’ to be formed. Yet another statement released via a policy document on the government website said that “attempts would be made to ensure there is a population balance among various communities”. Chairman of the State Law Commission, Aditya Nath Mittal explained the bill encouraging all residents of UP to follow the policy so that they can be eligible for all government schemes, apart from the advantages that come with population control.
Incentives available to couples that follow the policy
Section 4 of the draft bill has details on the list of incentives that will be available to the general public if they take up the two-child policy. They are as follows:
- Nominal rates of interest on soft loans for construction or purchase of houses
- Rebate on charges for electricity, water and such services
- Any other incentives that the Government may come up with in the future
Public servants who adhere to the policy will be entitled to two additional increments, subsidies towards purchase of land, maternity or paternity leave of 12 months, increase and pension, and so on. Also, if public servants follow a one-child policy and undergo voluntary sterilization they will have more incentives including preference for their child in education and government jobs. If the same policy and sterilization is followed by the general public who are under the poverty line, they will get a one-time payment of Rs. 80,000 if the child is a boy and Rs. 1,00,000 if the child is a girl.
Disincentives to couples that don’t follow the policy
If couples refuse to follow the two-child policy (which they are entitled to), they will be subject to disincentives such as
- Limiting ration card units
- No part in government welfare schemes
- Ineligibility to contest local body elections
- Ineligibility to apply for government jobs
- Ineligibility to get promoted in government service
Exceptions to the policy
Chapter III of the draft bill deals with general exceptions to the policy. Firstly, in case a second pregnancy results in multiple children being born, the couple will not be deemed to have contravened the law. Similarly, there is no bar on adoption of children and a couple with two or lesser own children and one or more adopted children will not have violated the policy. Another exception is when one of the two children born to a couple suffers from some kind of disability or passes away. In such a case, a third child can be conceived. Married couples who are expecting a child when (if) the Act comes into being will also be exempted. In case of polygamy or polyandry, the male or female respectively will not be deemed to have followed the two-child policy if they have more than two children from all their relationships as a whole.
The draft bill has received mixed reception from the general public. While there have been people and politicians applauding the law commission’s move towards controlling the booming population, others have criticized the bill on grounds that it would lead to further imbalance between different communities in the population. Therefore, it remains to be seen if the bill will indeed be passed and come into force.
The general public thinks about domestic violence usually in terms of physical assault that results in visible injuries to the victim. This is only one type of abuse. There are several categories of abusive behavior, each of which has its own devastating consequences. Lethality involved with physical abuse may place the victim at higher risk, but the long term destruction of personhood that accompanies the other forms of abuse is significant and cannot be minimized.
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Emotional Abuse & Intimidation
- Verbal Abuse: Coercion, Threats, & Blame
- Using Male Privilege
- Economic Abuse
The biological father cannot be charged for kidnapping his own child.
In the instant matter, the court was hearing a petition filed by Mumbai’s businessman, Sajid Shah for challenging his extradition request from the Netherlands to India. His estranged wife Nazneen has filed a complaint against him for abducting their 2-year-old daughter from Amsterdam. After kidnapping the daughter he brought her back to India in September 2016. She has accused Sajid Shah of “violently kidnapping their daughter” from her house and also launched an online campaign for the child’s return. Subsequently, an Interpol notice was issued for Sajid’s arrest. Following the Interpol notice, the Netherlands government approached the Indian authorities.
Nazneen and Sajid married in 2011 and got separated in 2016. After the couple separated, a Dutch court awarded Nazneen their daughter’s custody in 2016. Meanwhile, Sajid filed a divorce and custody petition before Bandra family court. Sajid claimed he was trying to protect his daughter from his “abusive wife”.
The MEA, in it’s May 5, 2017, letter, rejected the extradition request. The center in its affidavit submitted “Since the taking away of a child by her biological father does not amount to kidnapping, it is not an extraditable offence.” MEA has rejected the extradition request while stating that Sajid shall not be arrested and no corrective steps will be taken against him and his daughter.
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What is a Marriage License?
In simpler terms, a Marriage License is a legal proof of your marriage. It is a legal document which is issued and authorized by a Church or a State Authority, sanctioning a couple of their marriage. A marriage without a Marriage License stands illegal in front of the Court as well as the Society. So for all the legal family matters, a written and authorized proof of your marriage becomes extremely important. Requirements to get a marriage certificate vary from State to state but some general documents that you should be ready with while applying for a marriage certificate are: Birth Certificate, Photo identification, Social Security number, Proof of citizenship, Divorce decree in case you are divorced, death certificate of your spouse if you are a widow and parental consent if you are underage. Depending on your location, a lot of other jurisdictions might also get applied, so ensure to be well aware of the State’s marriage laws in advance to avoid any issues during this new phase of your life.
Why is it required?
If you are wondering that when and at what circumstances, you might need to show your Marriage license stamp on your marriage? Well, following are some situations when you might need one:
1. Changing your name after marriage legally – A certified copy of your marriage license will be required at the Social security office to authorize you to be able to do the same.
2. Gaining Immigration benefits – To avail the immigration benefits of a country, you would need to have a valid Marriage Certificate.
3. Availing Spouse’s Health Insurance benefits – To be able to take advantage of your spouse’s health insurance benefits, you would need to submit a valid proof of your marriage.
4. Applying for a Divorce – For getting a legal divorce, you would need a legal marriage license.
5. Availing Married Couple rights – To be able to use married couple rights and benefits like visitation rights in hospitals, right to make medical decisions on behalf of your spouse, family memberships related benefits, right to plan a funeral for your spouse as well as receive inheritance even in absence of a documented will, you would require a marriage certificate.
6. Filing taxes – For cases, where you would like to file taxes jointly, you would need to submit a proof of your marriage.
How to request a Marriage Certificate?
To request a Marriage Certificate you should download a marriage certificate form, using the Internet and should follow the below stated guidelines:
1. Generate a marriage certificate request form from an authentic online site.
2. Make sure to enter correct and exact names of the married couple .
3. Specify your Date of Marriage and other details like Town or City and Location.
4. Ensure to first make a phone call to the proper department to confirm the department address, correct amount that may be charged and if credit card information would be enough for the payment or a cheque will be required.
5. Always keep note of this transaction for future reference, in case a second notice is required to be sent.
If you are married and have somehow misplaced your Marriage License, it is recommended that you make a request for one as soon as possible and keep it safely because “It is better to be safe than sorry”.
For more information, please visit http://legalforms.io/
Dowry is a major social menace in India. Every year, countless women are victims to dowry harassment. Some are subjected to torture, while others are found dead in suspicious circumstances.
The Indian legal system, has the following laws in place, which can be used while filing an FIR against the accused-
1- In 1983 section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was introduced to deal with all forms of domestic violence including those which arose from “demand for property from the women and her family”. This in other words dealt with demand for dowry and also included different acts of torture that the in laws indulged in with the wife. These included beating and abusing her, sexual violence, use of cuss words, false imprisonment etc. This can lead to imprisonment for upto a maximum of 3 years.
2- When a woman commits suicide because of dowry related harassment within 7 years of being married section 304-B of the IPC which was amended in the year 1986, should be used to prosecute. The period of seven years has ostensibly been kept to ensure that the limitation period for filing suspected dowry related complaints are high.
3- Section 406 of the IPC is meant to protect “stridhan” – wealth given to bride on the eve of her marriage by the family to ensure her well being in the future. If such wealth is misappropriated by the bridegroom and his family, a non-bailable and cognizable offence is committed which can result in imprisonment for three years with fine.
4- Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005) too deals with dowry related violence and provides remedy for the same. Though this is largely a civil suit that orders protective decrees for protecting women, if such decrees are not followed the court can initiate criminal proceedings against the erring party.
5- The Dowry Prohibition Act (1960) is a landmark legislation that exclusively deals with tackling dowry exclusively. Section 2 of this act defines dowry as “give and take of any valuable property”. Section 3 and section 4 of the act deals with the punishment for giving, taking and demanding dowry. The imprisonment ranges from 6 months to 5 years and fine ranges between 10,000 rupees to the amount of dowry demanded.
In case police officials refuse to file an FIR, the State Commission for Women(SCW) can be reached , you can find the telephone and other related details of the respective SCWs over here-
Similarly, when a man or his family, or both have been accused of dowry harassment, they can file a counter FIR under the following legal provisions-
- Sec 120B Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Punishment of Criminal Conspiracy – The husband or the in laws can file a legal case alleging criminal conspiracy from the wife or her relatives.
- Sec 167 Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Public servant framing an incorrect document with intent to cause injury – If you believe that the police authorities are helping your wife in making false complaint and framing incorrect documents you can file a case against them alleging their false framing of documents.
- Sec 182 Indian Penal Code, 1860 – False information, with intent to cause public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person – What usually happens is that the public servant in his power does something which might not be the true, in short, a false information is circulated so as to depress the evidence.
- Section 191 Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Giving false evidence – If you suspect that your wife or anybody is presenting false evidence against you in the court of law or police station, you can file a case alleging that the evidence which are being used to prosecute you are false, which consequently make the whole charges false.
- Section 197 Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Issuing or signing a false certificate – Perjury is a crime, one can’t sign a false certificate and allege it to be true. Hence, if someone suffers because of the wrong certificate, he can prove himself innocent after showing sufficient evidence.
- Section 471 in The Indian Penal Code – Using as genuine a forged [document or electronic record]. –Whoever fraudulently or dishonestly uses as genuine any [document or electronic record] which he knows or has reason to believe to be a forged [document or electronic record], shall be punished in the same manner as if he had forged such [document or electronic record].
- Section 497 in The Indian Penal Code – Adultery – Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case, the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.
- Section 500 Indian Penal Code, 1860 – defamation – Reputation is man’s biggest asset. So if someone tries to defame you by any means, you can drag them to court for the harm suffered by you because of their conduct. They will be entitled to pay you damages to you in terms of compensation.
- Section 504 The Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace – Whoever intentionally insults, and thereby gives provocation to any person, intending or knowing it to be likely that such provocation will cause him to break the public peace, or to commit any other offence, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
- Section 506 Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Punishment for Criminal Intimidation – You can file a case of criminal intimidation against your wife alleging that she threatens you to do harm to you or your family or your property. Yet again, evidence is the only thing which can support your case.
- Section 227 of The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 – If you believe that the complaint registered by your wife is false you can file an application under sec 227 stating that the 498A case filled by your wife is false. If you have enough proofs, or if she does not have enough proof to substantiate the charges, chances are that the judge just dismisses the 498A case as it is a framed one.
- Section 9 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 – Damage recovery case – If she breaks into your home, creates a scene, and goes to ” protection officer ” and lies that you abused her “physically, emotionally or economically”, file a damage recovery case under Section 9 of CPC against her. Legally, you must issue notice on the same day or next day. The suit will continue for a long time. It has no risk.
IMAGE SOURCE- https://www.kannadigaworld.com/news/india/90128.html
Whenever Mahira, who is 25 years old, has a fight or a heated argument with her husband, he takes it out on her in the bed. She is merely a toy for him whom he can use differently every night. He forces himself on her, every single day, even during her periods. Their relationship has never been about ‘consent’ and ‘equality’.
Similarly, many women are subjected to dowry harassment and brutal rape which involves inflictions with torch lights leading to serious injuries.
These are just a few examples out of the plethora of such cases. These women are all married and they have to go through such kind of violence and forced intercourse. Is a wife merely a tool to vent out sexual and emotional tension and frustration? Marital rape is an oxymoron. Yet marriage and rape have an unfortunate continued relationship in India. Both rape and marriage are considered ways of gaining control over a woman’s body since time immemorial. This was also exemplified in the infamous Imrana rape case where back in 2005, 28-year-old Imrana, a mother of five, was raped by her 69-year-old father-in-law. And the Panchayat (local council) declared her marriage to her husband as void since she had had sex with her father-in-law and by virtue of her physical relationship with her father-in-law she was also told to treat her own husband as her son.
The dictionary meaning of the word “rape” is “ravishing or violation of a woman” which in its generic term “Raptus” implies violent theft, applied to both property and person. Rape is the word for forced or coerced sex. It is when the woman has not had the opportunity to freely give consent or she is unable to give consent. Marital rape is the non-consensual sex committed by the spouse. It is also known as partner rape or rape in marriage.
2. Indirect laws addressing Marital Rape
Marriage in India is considered a holy sacrament between a husband and his wife. When a man marries a woman, it not only brings implied consent of sexual intercourse but also the man’s duty to give due respect to the dignity of his wife. When the husband commits unwanted/ forceful intercourse with his wife, he breaks the confidence of his wife and breaches her trust in him. Lately, Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code i.e. the anti-dowry law is voluminously misused by the women and a considerable number of rape cases reported each year are also false. Proving marital rape and taking bedrooms to courtrooms in such cases is not only a difficult but also a dangerous idea.
As per the Indian penal legislation i.e., Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code- “Sexual intercourse” or “sexual acts” by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.”  Exception to Section 375 of IPC provides immunity to the husband who rapes his wife and declares marital rape as legal and does not consider it as rape. This shows that the concept of marital rape goes beyond the virtues of Article 21 of the Constitution of India i.e. right to live with human dignity. Marital rape prima facie violates Article 14 of the Constitution as it creates a classification between married and unmarried women and denies equal protection of the criminal legislation to the former. Though marital rape violates basic human rights that are attributed to every human being under the purview of these Articles there are not many remedies available to the victim.
Therefore, in India, marital rape can come under cruelty clauses of section 498A of IPC. Cruelty covers physical and mental harassment. Punishment is imprisonment for a maximum period of three years with fine. The remedies for cruelty under the Indian Penal Code take years to reach an outcome. In view of this, victims remain victims. They either give in, or give up.
Another remedy available to the wife is under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 which deals with protection of women from physical and mental cruelties of all forms, including sexual abuse. Family Courts as well as Magistrates provide counselling to the husband under domestic violence laws. But unfortunately, the provisions of this Act provide civil remedies only and a wife who wants to see her husband (rapist) punished finds no solution to that. Instead she is the one who struggles and suffers especially if she has children or is financially dependent or is without family support.
The only lasting solution to the problem of marital rape is legal separation or annulment of the marriage itself. A legally separated wife can only file a complaint for rape against her husband under Section 376A of IPC.
3. Startling Statistics
Marital rape is both common and an un-reported crime. A study conducted by the Joint Women Programme – an NGO, found that one out of seven married women had been raped by their husbands at least once. They frequently do not report these rapes because the law does not support them. According to the UN Population Fund, more than two-thirds of married women in India, aged 15 to 49 years, have been beaten, or forced to provide sex. Bertrand Russell in his book Marriage and Morals saw marriage as one of the most conventional forms of livelihood for a woman where the frequency of undesired intercourse she has to give in to is in all probabilities higher than that endured by a prostitute. 
Still the problem of marital rape has received very little attention from the activists, criminal justice system and the society at large. The concept of rape in marriage got recognition only after 1970s. The right of a husband to have sexual intercourse with his wife was considered to be one of the most natural implications of the contract of marriage.
Article 2 of the Declaration of the Elimination of Violence against Women includes marital rape explicitly in the definition of violence against women. Also the unanimous resolution at the UN conference in Beijing, September 1995 guarantees every woman the right to say no to sex as she wishes, specifically wives. In accordance with these Declarations and Conferences many countries have either enacted marital rape laws, repealed marital rape exceptions or have laws that do not distinguish between marital rape and ordinary rape. These States include Albania, Algeria, Australia (in 1991), Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mauritania, Mauritius (in 2007), New Zealand (under Crimes Act, 1961), Norway, the Philippines, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, Taiwan, Tunisia, the United Kingdom (in 1991), the United States, and recently, Indonesia, Thailand (in 2007), Turkey (in 2005). In England and Wales, the House of Lords held in 1991 that the status of married women had changed beyond all recognition. Lord Keith, compared a marriage of the modern times with a partnership of equals where the wife is no longer the subservient chattel of the husband.
4. Rethinking of the existing law
In India, the 42nd Law Commission Report (1972) suggested that marital rape should be criminalised. However, actions were not taken to that effect and the 84th Report (1980) was not in favour of the criminalisation. In the year 1996 the Supreme Court of India in Bodhisattwa Gautam v. Subhra Chakraborty classified rape as a crime against the basic human rights and a violation of the victim’s most cherished of fundamental rights, namely, the right to life enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution. However, the Apex Court negated this very pronouncement by not recognizing marital rape. This shows that the Indian courts as well as the law makers have made recommendations and pointed out the need for penalising marital rape several times. Still there has not been any substantial change in this field.
5. The gray areas
There are a lot of loopholes in the Indian legal system when it comes to marital rape. It not only provides immunity to the rapist husband but is also silent with regard to a lot of questions. For example, there are no provisions to deal with the cases of rape which are committed by the husband in collusion with a third person or if rape is committed by both the husband and a third person. Whether the third person will only be punished for rape, or whether the husband, would escape punishment for marital rape owing to his relationship with the victim are some of the many questions which the law has failed to adequately answer.
The honourable High Court of Delhi has rightly pointed out in the case of Meena & Anr. v. State & Anr. on 17 October, 2012 where the Court observed that if a girl who is not the wife of the man but is below 16 years of age (15 as per the Criminal Law Amendment 2013) then even the consensual intercourse between the two amounts to rape. But if the girl is above 16 years and is wife of the man, then even the forced intercourse is not rape. This provision in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 is a specific illustration which shows that the legislature has legitimized the concept of child marriage by keeping a lower age of consent for marital intercourse.
6. The deep scars left from the crime
Marital rape causes both mental as well as physical trauma which has severe and long-lasting consequences on women. The immediate physical and gynaecological effects of marital rape include injuries to private organs, lacerations, soreness, bruising, torn muscles, fatigue, vomiting, miscarriages, stillbirths, bladder infections. It may also lead to infertility and HIV. Rape in marriage has a lot of long-lasting psychological consequences also. It causes anxiety, shock, intense fear, depression, sleep problems, suicidal ideation, etc. 
The concept of marital rape is an oxymoron. It is a rape under the veil of marriage. Marriage is not a licence for sex. Just because a woman says “I do” to marriage it does not mean that she has said “I do” to sex whenever, wherever, and however her husband wants it. Sex is not an implied ‘right’ under the contract of marriage rather it is a clear communication of love, mutual consent, caring and respect between husband and wife.
A recent incident of gang rape and murder of a student on a bus in Delhi in 2012 led to a mass outcry. This outrage took place when the girl was raped by strangers. Had she been raped by her husband, would it have the same effect? If rape is the violation of human rights then it would continue to be a violation whether committed by her husband or a stranger.
The dignity of women either married or unmarried is alike. She cannot be considered as a property or the subservient chattel of the husband In today’s scenario we require generation of awareness along with judicial awakenings. What really needs to be done is to teach both boys and men to not rape and educate them to view women as valuable partners in every aspect of life.
 As per the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013
 Section 375- Definition of Rape
 Article 21 of Indian Constitution- Protection of life and personal liberty
 Article 14 of Indian Constitution- Equality before law
 Section 376A – Intercourse by a man with his wife during separation
 http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/48/a48r104.htm; Usha Badri Poonawalla vs K. Kurian Babu [AIR 2002 Bom 292]
 Refer – Law Commission of India’s 20th Report on Proposal to Amend The Prohibition Of Child
Marriage Act, 2006 And Other Allied Laws
 (1996) 1 SCC 490
 W.P. (Crl.) 1231/2012
A few days ago I had the opportunity to attend a discussion on the skewed sex ratio and the laws related to abortion in our country, as an intern in the People’s Union of Civil Liberties. The discussion was conducted by Dr. Meeta Singh, who is the Chairperson of the Dignity of Girl Child Foundation which works for the prevention of gender bias in our society, both intellectually and demographically. I am presenting the compiled discussion, which was based on the gender bias in our country, its consequences and the difficulties she had to face while implementing the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 2003 (PCPNDT Act) (Earlier, Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994).
This blog reflects the situations prevalent in Rajasthan, however the same scenario with modifications is prevalent all over India. The present adult sex ratio of India is 940 and the infant sex ratio is 914 girls per 1000 boys. Even though naturally, more boys are born than girls (the normal infant sex ratio ranges between 105 boys for every 100 girls), the ratio in India has fallen far below this average. This has created a vicious circle resulting in the further fall in the adult sex ratio which can have catastrophic effects on the overall population, as will be evident later. It seems that the Vietnamese proverb “One son is children, two daughters are none” has been verbatim followed in our country too, to the extent that the two daughters have become “none” not figuratively, but literally. Several reasons have been indentified for the same.
A woman has been considered as a liability since ages in the Indian society. It is so not only because she has to be sent to her in-laws along with a lot of dowry, but also because she will have to be brought up till she gets married by spending a lot of money. Moreover the perception that men are the bread earners and add value to the family while women as home makers do not add any economic value augment the reasons behind their ill-treatment. The religious sanctity associated with the supremacy of men and the patriarchal society that we live in, can be cited as other explanations for giving preference to the son.
There can be numerous sub reasons. Another reason, which has been seen in recent times, is the fear in the minds of parents that the girl who will be born, might suffer from sexual abuse. This has been more so in case of people who lack means to tackle such horrendous ordeals suffered by their daughters as and when they arise. It becomes scarier for women who have suffered violence and do not want the same to happen to any of their close ones. Although, logically the solution so thought, doesn’t solve the problem. It was discovered that although these traditions had been going on since ages, the number of females dropped sharply after 1991 particularly. Earlier, people kept procreating until a male child was born. However with the introduction of ultrasound technology in 1990’s, there remained no need to do the same, since the sex of the foetus could be determined before it was born. Since there was no law restricting the same, doctors were freely advertising services of sex selective abortion. The advertisements were a testimony of the fact that education then had little role to play in spreading awareness about the harms of the disparity in the sex ratio.
They read, “Aaj 500 rupay kharch kare aur kal 5 lakh bachayein” (spend Rs. 500 today to save 5 lakhs tomorrow). This meant that a girl child was a liability in the eyes of even the most educated population of India. Before we continue the story further (which will but be in the sequel to this article), let me acquaint you with the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (“MTPA”). It was introduced to combat the great number of deaths of the expecting mothers caused due to unsafe abortions. Population explosion was another reason for bringing in the Act. However, like every other law in India, there were loopholes in this law, which were used to misuse this social legislation. It needs to be noticed that ultra-sonography to detect the gender of a baby can be done only after a certain period of conceiving the baby, which is generally 12 weeks, since the baby does not develop fully till that time for the purposes of sex determination.
One of the conditions under which the MTPA allowed for the termination of pregnancy even after this time period (but before 20 weeks) was the failure of contraceptives resulting in mental anguish to the woman. It is surprising to note the manner in which this provision was misused. Woman used to go for sex detection after 12 weeks and in case she bore a female child, she used to approach the doctor asking for abortion claiming that the contraceptives failed and was causing her mental anguish. The doctor used to abort the baby after the formalities. It is difficult to believe that most of the times it was only after twelve weeks that the woman realized that there had been a failure of contraceptives! Thereafter was devised the PNDT Act, 1994 (amended in 2003 to The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act). It forbade the pre-natal determination of sex of the foetus. It had many clauses which were helpful in delineating the motive of the Act.
The Act made a 4 level monitoring along with the registration of the clinics which carried on the process of ultra-sonography obligatory, even when it was for purposes other than sex determination. Even when these clinics planned to sell these machines, they needed to make sure that the buyer had applied for registration or was already registered. The records of the machine had to be maintained for a period of 2 years. The doctor if found guilty, was restricted from practicing for a particular period of time and if found for a second time, his/her name was struck from the register of the Medical Council of India. The inspectors, who were put in charge of preventing the misuse of these machines, were given the power of secret inspections. These inspectors used to inform the clinics being visited before the so called surprise visits, frustrating the aim of the Act and the visit. To decrease the impact of the worsening situation, E-cells were made in all the districts in Rajasthan. However the population and the number of clinics under the ambit of each E-Cell were huge to be managed efficiently by one. Many NGOs joined the effort of the government to make the Act a success and organized sting operations in collaboration with the police to hatch these rackets. The sequel to this article will depict these operations and continue the story further. ————————————————————-
The implementation of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 (“PNDT Act”) (amended in 2003 to The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act) was a tough knot to untie as was discussed in Part I of this article. This article continues the story left unfinished in the earlier Part. It enumerates the steps taken by the government and various NGOs to achieve the objectives of the PNDT Act. A prize of rupees 1 lakh was instituted for the people who could report about doctors carrying on gross crime of sex-selective abortion. Yet the crime continued unabated and every other day doctors were devising new ways to carry on this practice under the veil. To go undetected, the doctors had employed brokers who used to bring clients to them.
The doctors had no direct exchanges with the patient and even the results of the tests were communicated to these brokers only. Complex rackets were devised which were tough to break. Most of these doctors were influential and had connections with men in power. It was difficult to catch them since they maintained fool-proof official papers regarding the machines they used. Bogey (fake) clients were often used to catch them. The clients were given currency notes (a photocopy of which was kept as a proof with the organization trying to catch them), which they were asked to present to the doctor, while asking for abortion. When the notes were later recovered from the doctor, it was a proof of them carrying this evil process. However these decoy operations were not easy to carry out.
State authority’s permission was taken and an affidavit was signed by the patient which read that the patient was not interested in sex selective abortion. The very first stage of finding the decoy clients was the most difficult. The family members were not willing to send a pregnant lady for such a sting operation in fear of her losing the baby in case it became a prey to the evil eyes of others (which in Hindi is called nazar lag jana- a common superstitious belief in India.). It was also feared that if an influential doctor was caught red handed, he may send people to threaten the woman to take back her statements. Several initiatives have been taken to alleviate the situation (including the amendment in 2003). However a lot more needs to be done. More particularly, even when foeticides have decreased to a great extent, deaths of the female child are happening in the form of infanticides. Giving incentives to doctors to counsel people against sex selective abortions can be another way to stop the crime. Why do we actually need a balanced sex ratio? The increasing number of crimes against women is partially a result of the skewed sex ratio.
There have been instances of villages witnessing a ‘baaraat’ (the procession which a groom takes to the house of the bride) after more than 100 years. The declining number of girls results in practices like polyandry. There have been cases in Haryana particularly, where one woman was married to four husbands. This lady not only has to fulfill the material needs of food and water and carrying out domestic chores, but also the sexual needs of these four men. This results in adverse impact on the mind and body of the woman and also increases the chances of sexually transmitted diseases. Moreover the age at which girls are married off goes down, which is already low in certain parts of India. This is because, because of a lack of number of girls, the parents of the boys want to marry their child as soon as they can find a girl, thus putting a pressure on the girl’s parents. There is also a rise in the crimes against women since many boys are unable to find mates for themselves. For instance presently, there are 60 men out of every thousand, who are not able to find brides for themselves leading to more and more sexual crimes against woman.
Moreover, single men get attracted to terrorist groups and are an easy recruit, since they have little to lose with no family and children. More about this phenomenon can be read in the book ‘Bare Branches’ by Andrea M. den Boer and Valerie M. Hudson. There is also a conjecture that this would lead to a process of reverse dowry. Buying and selling of brides also takes place. What do you think is a long term solution for this? Educating the girls? No, it has been proven time and again that girls seldom take the decision of abortion (although the MTPA allows for it). In a country like India, where patriarchy is imbued even in laws, imagining a girl aborting a child without the permission of her partner, can be nothing but an imagination!
A way out can definitely be to educate the boys to respect girls so that when they grow older, they do not pressurize the women to do the same thing. A brilliant example of this is a campaign in the villages of Rajasthan by Dr. Singh whereby young boys are made gender sensitive and made aware of the consequences which follow the skewed sex ratio and today the results are amazing. The boys not only ensure that no discriminatory treatment is meted out to their sisters or any other women, but also make sure that they get equal rights.
The same boys who were earlier indifferent to what was happening and enjoyed being served hot food by their sisters are now putting up a brave fight to send them to school. I am just hoping that we do not become akin to China in this regard, where after the single child norm and a similar son preference in the society, the only child which can preferably be born is a son for obvious reasons. The situation is such that because of lack of women in the society, the women are abducted and married off, forcefully. These girls are then made sexual slaves. This is happening with girls who have not even attained puberty, making marriages of a teenager with an octogenarian a common sight. It is high time that we wake up and stand for the cause.