Monday, October 15, 2007


The maid's daughter is six months pregnant. And the foetus is male. And how did she find out? The doctor who conducted her scan told her. Yes.

And me? The ultrasound clinics I went to had large posters with foreboding red lettering which warned me that "Foetal sex determination is illegal and a punishable offence". I had to sign declarations that I wouldn't ask the doctor to reveal the sex of the foetus, and the doctor had to sign in the report that s/he hasn't disclosed the sex of the foetus to me. And this is when I was ready, to welcome with open arms, either sex, be it a boy or a girl.

And the doctor reveals the sex of the foetus to the maid's daughter, she from that class of society, who are more likely than us to treat girls as burdens, and would tend to abort female foetuses. And as I gather, the doctor offered the information just like that. No money seems to have exchanged hands.

Did he offer the information because the foetus is male? Would he have done the same if it was female? But if he had the reputation of revealing the sex of the foetus, wouldn't his silence indicate that it is a female foetus?

In fact, when I was expecting, the same maid asked me if the doctor did not tell me the sex of the foetus, and that in her village, they "take a photo" and tell them the sex of the foetus. But this scan was done right here, in Bangalore. Where is this clinic? "There", with a vague wave of the hand is all the information we get from the maid about the whereabouts of this place.

This tells me how widespread sex determination is. And we scream ourselves hoarse about female foeticide.

Update on Jan 8th: The girl delivered the baby yesterday... and it turned out to be a girl!


chitra said...

Hmmm...this seems to be pretty serious. Are you digging it further?

Altoid said...

Hm, actually this is probably the 3rd case I am hearing about where the parents-to-be are being informed about the gender of the baby, in India. My question had been the same, that its supposed to be illegal in India. Some of my friends said it could probably be that a relative, who is also a doctor, maybe divulged the fact. Still, in this case, its quite bizarre and dangerous too!

Yamuna said...

Statistics reveal that sex determination is more widespread in the developed city areas than in the rural village areas. In fact some of the top 'educated' gynecs in bengalooru regularly do this for money. There is nothing surprising about this happening in the city areas because this trend has been noticed with the spread of the Ultrasound. In fact in Punjab and Harayana which have the least female: male sex ratio, the city areas are flooded with such clinics.

There are several NGOs in the city tackling this menace- I had interned in one by name Vimochana. Occurrence of sex determination is legal under the PNDT Act only when it relates to sex-related disorders especially genetic.

Advancement in science and technology has only helped in this regard! Shows how real education is required and not just degree certificates..

Poppins said...

Hey this is crazy, you're right. They act so hoity-toity with flks like us who would never abort, and promptly tell them who would?

This is crazy !

BTW, did your song tag *gagging from too much mush*

Amodini said...

You write :

"she from that class of society, who are more likely than us to treat girls as burdens"

If by "us" you mean the middle class, I'm not entirely sure that's true. Come northwards and the middle class and richie-rich might sound all liberal, but they abort female foetuses all right.

Viky said...

Hmm - lot of vague thoughts forming up - will leave a comment when they are a bit more coherent.

You should have tried him, though. May be he would have told you, too.

Collection Of Stars said...

I have seen richie rich and educated folks also finding out about the sex of the child - they want only a boy.
One lady I know has 2 lovely daughters and then she had a boy (she claims after they did a lot of poojas and all that crap).
The year the boy was born, they celebrated Ganesh Chathurthi very grandly and she said that this was since they finally had a boy. I have not been able to get the connection...seriously.

Anonymous said...

the rich collect dowry for the sons and hence do advance testss.if it is a girl child they abort.the poor always look for helping hands to feed the large family and hence boys are preferred.
both extremes and diverse but the thought process of the rich and middle class is different , trying to blame all the ills on the women who do the not the doctor equally guilty ? and which strata of society does he belong to ? for the sake of money , he would go to any extent.always easy to preach and blame.

Abhipraya said...


Everyone does this irrespective of class. 2 years ago I met this lady who was pregnant with her second child. While I was beginning to rant of excited congratulations she said in a very disappointed tone that this too is a girl! She was from reasonably well off family and herself a graduate. Every time I see her daughters I cannot help thinking of her disappointed expression. I saw a gut wrenching documentary about Female infanticide where the mothers talked (mostly matter of factly) about how they smothered newborn girl babies. Something that sends shivers down my spine even now!

Anonymous said...

why do you think the doctor is a he :-)

Veena Shivanna said...

Ha Ha..How much ever advanced we are, people will never stop asking if we know the sex of the baby during the pregnancy period.
If your husband is a doctor(though not sonologist) they will harass you saying, ' don't lie , I know your husband would know and have told you'... I am not sure if he knows, even if he does I have requested NOT to reveal me... Its so nice to think about the baby and wait for the day alva ?

and I guess the foeticide is not more in the class you mentioned because they think they can afford for another baby (even if they need a boy) but the upper class people think lot about affordability and might think of it.

rajk said...

I agree with anonymous.."The doctor doesn't have to be a man!"..
Yet no matter how many women talk about wanting sons or not wanting daughters, I'm pretty sure it's the husbands' opinions and wishes that they are echoing. If the husband and family was welcoming to every child, I can't imagine any woman wanting to kill her own baby.

Shruthi said...

Chitra, I did try. I got the report and got the name of the doc and the clinic. But what can I possibly do after this without any concrete proof?

Altoid, oh that common?

Yamuna, that is a lot of interesting information. Thank you!

Poppins, LOL! And yeah, hmph!

Amodini, many people have told me this, but I just cannot believe it! But dare I say that the instance is more in the lower class of society? What do you think?

Viky, looking fwd for your comment. And no, I didn't want to know beforehand :)

Collection of Stars, I don't know whether to laugh or to cry! :O

Anon at 4 50, like I said, the doctor has not taken any money from them for giving this information. And yes, the doc is the guiltiest of the lot. That is the main issue of this post.

Abhipraya, heartless, should I say, or desperate? Heartbreaking. :(

Anon at 6 31, because the name of the doctor in the report, which the maid showed me, is a very male name :)

Veena, do you know the sex of the baby? :D Hey, you know what, abortions at good, safe clinics might be expensive, but I am sure there are a lot of quacks who do this job, charging very less.

Rajk, like I told anon, I saw the report, and the name was very male :) The doctor is very much a male. As for listening to the wishes, I think the concept of bearing a son is so hardwired in the brains of these people, that women need no external pressure to prefer a son, and hence kill the daughter.

Viky said...

A day later, not much coherence. Much as I bring myself to tone it down, the cynical mood prevails.

1. You did not want to know beforehand. So what difference does it make? You stopped at the red light. Someone else did not. Unless the curiosity of having to know beforehand was much more than the certainty of the law preventing you from doing so, you should not be feeling bad.

2. Are you feeling bad that even if you did not want to know, you signed declarations, and your maid's daughter did not ask for it, and yet got to know?

3. Are you feeling Grrr!!! because the doctor failed his duty by letting the cat out of the bag? Because somewhere, the system has sprung a leak and you are somehow unable to plug it? Because it is due to such signal-breakers that the traffic situation is so bad?

4. The argument of revealing to a certain class or social strata does not hold any water. An offence is an offence. Educated or being middle class and society-fearing is not a yardstick at all. Sometimes the girls who are born into such families prefer being dead while they were still a pound of flesh, rather than leading the lives they are given unto. The opposite is also true - my Ajji's maid's daughter did her Matric, got a typing certificate and got herself a job.

Somehow, I feel, this is more personal than just a doctor breaching the NDA. The discussion, I feel, would have been as hard-hitting and relevant even without the second paragraph. Maybe even the third.

Timepass said...

Gosh..what's happening.. I was told that both the doctors' as well as the scanning centre's license would be cancelled if they reveal the gender of the baby. Here, the clinic seems to be flourishing!!

Shruthi said...

Viky, LOL!

1) The question is not whether I want to know or not. The question is that I did not have a choice - the law was forced upon me. My friend in the US was offered the knowledge, she CHOSE not to know. I want that choice.

2) This one doesn't even figure anywhere

3) I am feeling Grrr because the doctor failed his duty, and has signed on the report that he has NOT disclosed the sex. And that there being no written proof that he has told her the sex of the child, there is little anybody can do about it.

4) From the comments above, and from what my father told me during dinner today, I realize that by saying "that class", I made a mistake. Apparently, female foeticide is rampant in all classes of society. But I don't think I should be blamed for assuming what I did - because I believed that it is the poor who treat girls as burdens - to be married off, etc.

Besides, a law is a law is a law. It has been broken, period. How it has been broken is immaterial, if you think of it from the law point of view - this point too, I realized on hindsight.

No comments on your last paragraph. I wanted to write those paragraphs - I wrote it. If it took away some of the focus from the main issue, so be it.

Timepass, exactly!

rajk said...

Thanks for ur response...The way u painstakingly respond to each comment is impressive!
However I still find it hard to believe, Maybe I don't want to believe, that a mother can willingly kill her child just becos of the sex.But Maybe u are right, it's all in the conditioning!

Kadalabal said...

It is very unfortunate but it true and these things happen statutes will not solve these as it is very difficult to enforce in a vast country like india and now mdical profession is also commercialsied with those who are having money starting hospitals even though they are not professionals in the field so getting treatment is like going to a shop today so anything can happen wanted/unwanted tests etc., etc.,
I understand the determination of sex of child is done on a very larege sacle in North.
let good senses prevail on medical profession but as it looks it is very remote it is not that all doctors do it those who do it are throwing their professional ethics for monetary gains
may be they get their degrees spending huge donations etc., and work in hospitals which insist them to do and pay hefty for these things.
it is a pity and shame that all what I can say


shark said...

I think it's this way.
The doctors won't divulge the sex of the baby to us (educated folks) because we know that's illegal and might question him. He is also not sure if we are trying to con him by asking such questions. So he keeps mum.
On the other hand, with uneducated people.. it's always easy. He can make some quick money and yes if a questioning comes around.. he can always say they are uneducated and hence they are saying something and all.. I didn't do anything.

In this particular case, maybe you can go and talk to the doctor. You cannot file a complaint since you don't have proof.. but atleast you can talk to him and maybe stop him from doing this in the future... you said he didn't even take money for it. Then what is he doing this for?

Anonymous said...

"The question is that I did not have a choice - the law was forced upon me. My friend in the US was offered the knowledge, she CHOSE not to know. I want that choice." The law is forced upon because female foeticide is rampant. Law cannot provide the choice you are asking for to a selective mass of population. It has to be forced upon everyone.

Shruthi said...

Kadalabal, that's true, but what I cannot understand is that the doc in this case did not take money for giving this information.

Shark, yes, that thought came to me too. And, just like you, I don't see what his motive was in this case!
Btw, you haven't done my tag :)

Anon, Exactly! That comment was just in reply to Viky - valid in that context only - and in a world not beset by problems like we have - it is not to be taken as my general opinion.

Sandesh said...

there are somethings which cannot be controlled no matter what you do. This is one such thing along with Dowry, bribery, invasion of Non-Kannadigas in Karnataka specially Bangalore.

There is no solution.

Rohit said...

I will always fail to understand this. Bringing a new life in this world in itself is such a miracle and then to grudge over a minor detail like the sex of the child, it’s so unfortunate, no matter what socio-economic class you belong to

Maverick said...

but you would've enjoyed the suspense didn u?

chitra said...


Not expected of you to differentiate people like "us" and "them".

Well the female foetecide is more in the upper strata . And look at the dowry deaths anfd the harrasment of the daughters in law, there are more prevalent in that rich class and so called middle class.

And even when females are born, i have seen parents yearning for a male child and continue breeding till they get a male son. And in the family, of any class, if there is a boy and a girl, a girl is taught to cook,and it is her duty to get up and serve the guests when the brother (younger/older)just sits.

And unfortunately, the sis also finds nothing wrong in it because she feels it is her duty. doing it out of love is different. And the same sister who later becomes a mother otr mother in law, do you think that person would have any radical thoughts. Or that son would behave differently with his wife or daughter. And Shruthi, I have seen it in my friends and neighbours place and this is a very much part of "our" society.

Shruthi said...

Sandesh, hmm.. no solution? Btw, can you call it "invasion"?

Rohit, miracle it so is! And "minor" to you and me, Rohit.... not for everybody!

Maverick, of course, I didn't actually want to know at all!

Chitra, well, forgive me for not knowing personally ANYONE in my circle who preferred a boy over a girl, enough to want to kill the child if it is a girl. And forgive me for knowing ONLY people from the uneducated class of society who want a boy over a girl. I wrote from my own experience... looks like I have a lot to see yet.
But I am also glad I don't know anyone with such narrow ideas!

Preference for male children is rampant, Chitra - but I am talking about KILLING here. Of course, like I said, perhaps I am just living in an ivory tower.

As for the conditioning about what a girl should do and what a boy should do - it saddens me... I see it so much.... but that's fodder for an entirely different post!

veena shivanna said...


What do I say now :-) wait for another 2-3 weeks.
AND for detecting/disclosing the baby's sex will attract huge fine and imprisonment too....!

Wonder if knowing the sex of the baby is so important before its born..
I guess now people are much worried about the health..alva ?

ps - Have you paid up the royality for picking up the same title which vijay(bangalore blues) chooses to rant his thoughts out :-) Just kidding.

Sandesh said...

It surely is invasion as they are tryin to stand on us. I can give you many incidents like that where they ask us to speak their language here in Karnataka!

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