By Chetna Choudhry
Gurgaon: Health officials claim to have identified an emerging trend in Gurgaon and some other urban parts of Haryana that may explain why the state continues to perform badly in the much-touted ‘beti bachao’ campaign that seeks to check declining child sex ratio.
If inputs coming in from health workers deployed at different levels are any indication, many couples, especially those from affluent sections of society, are flying abroad nowadays to get gender determination tests — and if required a medical termination of pregnancy — done.
Sources said Thailand, Singapore (both sex determination and abortion allowed) and Dubai (only sex determination is done there), among a few others, seemed to be the most favoured destinations with a number of agents providing dedicated services to couples who want to avoid legal action and social stigma in India. While prenatal gender determination and foeticide are prohibited under Indian laws (Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act), these tests are allowed in these foreign countries.
What comes as more shocking is that health mandarins as well as state authorities are apparently aware of this growing challenge that may undermine all efforts to check female foeticide and boost child sex ratio in Haryana. But, they are not sure how to tackle this growing problem.
“A couple coming from rural areas or belonging to lower income groups pays anything between Rs 15,000 and Rs 30,000 to terminate pregnancy, illegally, in India. On the other hand, the same procedure can be done abroad at almost the same cost. The travelling cost is the only additional expenditure. Moreover, things are done legally abroad and in more hygienic conditions with proper medical back up. So, those who can afford go out of the country to avoid legal hassles here,” a senior health official told TOI.