NAC blueprint to tackle decline in child sex ratio

New Delhi: Concerned over decline in child sex ratio, the National Advisory Council (NAC) has come out with a blueprint for a new national policy to tackle the issue, which includes tougher laws to prevent misuse of medical technology for sex selection.

The NAC, chaired by Sonia Gandhi, identified prenatal sex selection as the biggest reason for the decline in child sex ratio and sought strengthening of the current legal regime to prevent misuse of medical technology for sex selection.

The panel wanted the government to develop a legislative framework for the future with a focus on strengthening and effective implementation of the Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (prohibition of sex selection) Act. It also wanted the government to consider the implications from the perspective of sex selection, of new legislation such as the Draft Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Bill, 2010.

The NAC suggested a review current conditional cash and other incentive schemes and plan schematic interventions for poor as well as middle and upper class families. It wanted the government to develop a national communication and advocacy strategy for behaviour change with shared core message content, identified target audiences and multiple platforms.

The NAC also wanted a review of other gender-related laws and policies including the dowry prohibition law, amendments to laws related to rape and connected provisions among others, in order to propose amendments or ways to strengthen implementation.

The advisory panel also stressed on education and sensitisation of students and professionals, public officials, elected representatives, frontline health and other workers by introducing and developing appropriate course curricula and providing training in gender-sensitive counselling.

The provisional 2011 Census report had revealed that the child sex ratio in India (0-6 years) dropped to 914 females against 1,000 males -? lowest since Independence.

A NAC Working Group, jointly headed by Farah Naqvi and A K Shiva Kumar, found that the child sex ratio was directly linked to the practice of prenatal sex selection, which has spread all over India, including to rural areas that were previously out of its ambit.

The child sex ratio was influenced by a number of factors such as under-registration of girls, differential infant and child mortality and age misreporting, it said.