Women Empowerment - Part 2

National Policy for Empowerment of Women, 2001
Thrust areas:
·         Judicial and legal reforms to make the judicial process more gender sensitive to women’s need
·         Social and economic empowerment of women
·         Changing societal attitudes and community practices by active participation and involvement of both men and women
National Commission for Women (NCW)
·         It is a statutory body
·         The apex national level organization of India with the mandate of protecting and promoting the interests of women
·         It has five cells viz. The legal cell, Research and Studies cell, NRI cell, RTI cell, Complaint and investigation cell.
·         It came to picture after the NCW Act 2005

    Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalat (PMLA)

     It is established under the Legal Service Authority Act for the redress and speedy trail of marital disputes and other family disputes. It provides mutual settlement and flexibility in functioning.

Note: The 8th Five Year Plan gave importance to women participation and saw women as partners in the growth of the nation.
The 73rd Constitutional Amendment gave women 33% representation at Panchayati Raj Institutions.
Gender Budgeting: Applying gender mainstreaming to the budgetary process.
Legislative provisions that can be used to curtail Sex Selective Abortion:
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971:
If the very purpose of the PNDT Act is to regulate all the pre-natal diagnostic techniques and for the prevention of the misuse of such techniques for the purpose of pre-natal sex determination leading to female feticide, then PNDT Act should be read with Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971.

The MTP Act Specifies:
1.   The conditions under which a pregnancy can be terminated
2.   The person or persons who can perform such termination
3.   The place where such termination can be performed
The conditions under which a pregnancy can be terminated:
§    Medical: Where continuation of the pregnancy might endanger the mother’s life and cause grave injury to her physical or mental health
§    Eugenic: Where there is substantial risk of the child being born with serious handicaps due to physical or mental abnormalities
§    Humanitarian: Where pregnancy is the result of rape
§    Failure of contraception

The person or persons who can perform such terminations:
§    The Act provides safeguards to the mother by authorising only MBBS doctors having experience in gynaecology and obstetrics to perform abortion where the length of pregnancy does not exceed 12 weeks.
§    Where the pregnancy exceeds 12 weeks but is less than 20 weeks, the opinion of two Registered Medical Practitioners is necessary to terminate the pregnancy
§    Where the pregnancy exceeds 20 weeks, it cannot be terminated except in cases where it is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman

All MBBS doctors have to obtain a certificate from the Chief Medical Officer of the district before performing MTP, otherwise it is considered illegal.

The place where such termination can be performed:
The Act stipulates that pregnancy shall not be terminated at any place other than a hospital established or maintained by the Government or a private place approved for this purpose (MTP) by the Government.

Conducting an abortion is punishable with
-     7 years imprisonment unless done in good faith to save the life of the mother
-     10 years imprisonment if
1.   done without consent of the woman
2.   the woman dies while inducing abortion
Also, the Act provides for 10 years imprisonment for
1.   doing an act intended to prevent a child being born alive
2.   causing the death of  4 –5 months unborn child
Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act 1994:
The main purpose of this Act is to regulate the use of pre-natal diagnostic techniques and to prevent the misuse of such techniques for the purpose of pre-natal sex determination leading to female feticide.

The salient features of the Act:
Ø   The Act compels the registration of all pre-natal diagnostic centres.
Ø   The Act bans the use of medical techniques for the determination of sex of the fetus.
Ø   The test can be conducted only in the registered pre-natal diagnostic centres.
Ø   The test can be administered only by the trained professionals having prescribed qualifications.
Ø   The Act bans the advertising of the availability of facilities for pre-natal sex determination.
Ø   The Act lays down that the pre-natal diagnostic test can be used only for detecting specific conditions, under any one of certain given circumstances, like:
§    The age of the pregnant women should be above 35 years.
§    She must have had a history of two or more abortions or fetal losses
§    She must have been exposed to potentially teratogenic drugs, radiation, infection or chemicals.
§    There must be a family history of mental retardation or physical deformities such as spasticity or any other genetic disease
Ø   The pre-natal diagnostic test should be administered only to detect the following abnormalities:
§ ·      chromosomal abnormalities
§ ·      genetic metabolic diseases
§ ·      haemoglobinopathies
§ ·      sex-linked genetic diseases
§ ·      congenital abnormalities
Ø   The side and after-effect of such pre-natal diagnostic procedures should be explained to the pregnant woman concerned.
Ø   The test cannot be performed without the written and informed consent of the mother.
Ø   A copy of her written consent obtained should be given to her.
Ø         The sex of the fetus should not be disclosed to the pregnant woman concerned or her relatives by words, signs or any other manner.

 NOTE: I have taken the text from various sources available on the internet.


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