Easy availability of gender identification kits on net a threat: minister

March 15th, 2008 - 12:03 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Anbumani Ramadoss

New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) The advent of Internet has emerged as a new threat as overseas agencies are posting advertisements for sex determination services and equipment that can be used at home, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said Friday. Ramadoss informed the Rajya Sabha of the websites offering such services - www.4-gender-selection.com, www.pregnancystore.com and others which offer sex determination kits called the ‘baby Gender Mentor Home DNA Test Kit’.

These sites help the customer determine the sex of the foetus through DNA analysis at home.

The house was also told that gender testing kits from the US and Canada were available in certain markets in Punjab for Rs.15-20,000. It was also found that some genetic centres were importing kits online in response to advertisements .

The matter was referred to the Ministry of Communications and IT in order to block the offending websites.

He was told by the ministry that blocking the websites was not totally successful as “they could re-emerge and be available for the viewers again under a new nomenclature and in a new avatar,” Ramadoss said.

The issue has been taken up with the Department of Revenue under the ministry of finance in order to trap the people importing sex determination kits from overseas websites.

The ministry had requested the customs department for details of the individuals and organisations involved in importing sex determination kits to help the government to crack down against them under section 23 of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994, to check female foeticide.

The health ministry has requested the customs department to intercept such articles, he said.

The customs have alerted field officers not to release such imported gender testing kits and to take action against such people.

In another answer, Ramadoss said the census 2001 figures reveal that the child sex ratio is comparatively lower in affluent regions like Punjab, (798), Haryana (819), Chandigarh (845), Delhi (868), Gujarat (883) and Himachal Pradesh (896).

The sex ratio (number of females per thousand males) in India has declined over the century from 972 in 1901 to 927 in 1991. The sex ratio has since gone up to 933 in 2001.

Some of the reasons given to explain the low sex ratio are preference for sons, neglect of the girl child resulting in higher mortality at younger age, female infanticide and female foeticide, the minister said.

“Easy availability of sex determination tests and abortion services may also be proving to be catalyst in the process, which may be further stimulated by pre-conception sex selection facilities,” he said.

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