New Delhi: With the latest Census figures
throwing up highly skewed statistics of child sex ratio, the
NCW today urged the government to quickly provide "more teeth"
to the PNDT Act, while asking religious leaders to play a role
in weaning the society away from sex selection.
National Commission for Women Chairperson Girija Vyas
termed the figures highly "unfortunate" but said she was
hardly surprised by them.
"It is very unfortunate but honestly speaking we were
anticipating this. This is the reason we have been focusing
on seeking amendments in the PNDT Act to give it more teeth to
achieve a better conviction rate, that is currently abysmally
low," she told reporters here.
The census figures have revealed a national child sex
ratio of 914 girls per 1000 boys, lowest since independence
and down from the previous census figure of 927.
Vyas said the Pre natal Diagnostic Techniques law should
be updated and its definition expanded to meet the changing
requirements of the time like the advances in technology.
"We had, four years back proposed changes in the Act. I
again appeal to the government to bring these proposals in
Parliament in the next session," she said.
She said the law needs to increase its ambit to sex
determination techniques beyond sonography, as well as lay
down a role for police and any third party like the civil
society in achieving convictions -- features that are
presently absent in the law.
"The very low conviction rate under the law is a major
issue... there has been, I believe only one conviction over
the past five years and if the conviction rate goes up the
incidences would naturally come down," she said.
The chairperson, however, welcomed the increase in the
overall sex ration to 940 women per thousand, as also the rise
in literacy levels. The latter, she said, gives hope for
improving the skewed ratio.
While calling for strong efforts on awareness campaigns
targeting both the poorer and well-to-do sections of society,
she also sought a major role for religious leaders in
"Religious leaders have a strong influence in Indian
society and their active role is crucial for achieving success
in this campaign to prevent female foeticide," she said.
The NCW chairperson also said that besides the rate of
births, the mortality rate of girls also needs to be monitored
and state governments should frame and enforce their own laws
to deal with the menace of female foeticide.
"We have asked for state-wise and district wise data
on mortality of girls to monitor and analyse it," she said.
Vyas also said that she was hopeful of a positive
response from a Group of Ministers meeting on the NCW`s
proposed Honour and Tradition Bill to deal with honour