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Can Aadhaar bring an end to female foeticide?

Ultrasonography is used to determine the sex of the fetus and aid illegal termination of pregnancy by an unethical minority of the medical fraternity. Violators managed to find loopholes in the system despite the legislations, and have thwarted attempts to bridge the gender gap arising out of discrimination at birth or before.

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The gender-determination was made illegal by the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994. However, nothing much has changed in nearly 25 years. As per the 2011 census, the Child Sex Ratio dropped from 945 in 1991 to 914 across many states.

Digitisation of medical records and linking it to a centralised database like the Aadhaar can be an alternative to tackle the issue. Bringing together all stakeholders — the government, judiciary, doctors, and citizens on one page to fight the crime with the help of technology, it would be a simple, effective, accurate, cost-effective and environment-friendly solution.

Union minister Maneka Gandhi gave a similar idea of linking medical records to Aadhaar, which was shot down by women activists.  It would be physically impossible for the government to monitor or follow up every pregnancy case when the ministry was not able to monitor a few thousand machines, they argued.

However, the argument doesn’t hold in the digital age of the centralized system. Every scan, medical details and delivery can be updated in the system from wherever the tests are done if a patient’s Aadhaar details are linked with the ultrasound scan report while ensuring privacy and security. The link will dissuade the illegal and unethical players, besides helping the government monitor women’s health status. With the genuine contact details from Aadhaar, the ‘at-risk girl child’ can be tracked, any abortion can be compulsorily documented, and failure to comply with such simple and effective linking could imply clandestine activity, attracting penalty.

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