What is Female Foeticide?

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Jun 14, 2022, 5:02

One of the most common manifestations of discrimination against females in society, Female Foeticide refers to the ugly practice of aborting a female foetus in the womb. This is different from female infanticide where a girl child is killed after birth.

An ideal male-to-female ratio is anywhere between 103-107 males per 100 females. A number greater than this suggests Female Foeticide.

Child Sex Ratio - Where Does India Stand?

As per the census, the sex ratio in India in the 0 to 6-year age group has grown from 102 in 1961 to 109 in 2011. The child sex ratio is particularly higher in western areas like J&K, Maharashtra, and Haryana.

The census of 2011 reports the child sex ratio of 113 in Maharashtra, 111 in Uttar Pradesh, and 112 in Gujarat. The data indicates that the sex ratio gets better when people have more children, which results from their practice of having children on the basis of gender.

It also suggests that the abnormality in the sex ratio is also related to socio-economic factors and literacy. Urban areas have a higher child sex ratio as compared to rural regions which mean sex selection is a prevalent practise among rich and educated sections of society.

Female Foeticide - Measures Taken by the Government

In 1994, the government of India introduced the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PCPNDT) to make sex determination and Female Foeticide a punishable offence. Under this law, it is illegal to screen the foetus for gender determination in India.

Female Foeticide is known to be associated with the availability of cheap ultrasound technology in the country in the 1990s.

Ultrasonography can accurately determine the foetal sex at week 12 or later in pregnancy. Estimates suggest that over 10 million female foetuses have been aborted in the country since then.

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Reasons Behind Female Foeticide

Talking about the reasons for Female Foeticide, scholars and researchers have proposed several theories. The most common reason is the preference for a boy child as inherited through the cultural background.

Another reason can be gender inequality which is prevalent today in the country. The socioeconomic condition of the people in India is also sometimes responsible for Female Foeticide and infanticide.

While the dowry system has ended legally, it still continues across the nation and is responsible for several other challenges like Female Foeticide. Practices like dowry and harassment of women result in a general preference for a boy child and girl foeticide.

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To conclude, the abnormal sex ratio resulting from Female Foeticide brings severe consequences for society including increased offences, trafficking, buying of brides, moral decline in families, and more.

The government along with sections of society have come up with different programmes to handle the problem.

Recently, the government has introduced the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme that aims to ensure the protection, survival, and empowerment of females in the country.

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FAQs on Female Foeticide

Q.1 Is Female Foeticide punishable?

Under the PNDT Act, anybody found guilty of Female Foeticide - killing a female foetus is punished with a penalty of up to 50,000 rupees and imprisonment of three years.

Q.2 What is done to prevent Female Foeticide in India?

The Indian government has taken measures for preventing Female Foeticide like the PNDT Act (Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act) which strictly bans sex determination in the country.

Q.3 How is female infanticide different from Female Foeticide?

Female infanticide refers to the practice of killing a girl child after birth, while Female Foeticide refers to the practice of aborting a female foetus in the womb.

Q.4 Which movie is related to Female Foeticide?

The 2003 movie Matrubhoomi describes the impact of female infanticide and Female Foeticide on society.