Engines of indifference: Sex determination ads and global tech giants

Engines of indifference: Sex determination ads and global tech giants

Submitted by alvin on Fri, 2016-07-15 11:01 Bengaluru: Sex determination is thriving in the country if one goes by the slew of online advertisements thrown up search engines on ways to conceive a baby boy. It was this brazenness that made the Supreme Court recently to slam tech giants Google, Microsoft and Yahoo for advertising about sex determination, with the court directing them to keep off such advertisements from search engines.In 2008, Sabu Mathew George, a child rights activist, filed a PIL against such advertisements in the SC. At that time, the court had directed popular websites to not display such advertisements that would lead to female infanticide. But the ruling obviously did not have any effect, which forced the court to intervene once more.Speaking to Bfirst, Sabu Mathew George says it is unlawful to advertise sex determination kits or any tests related to it. “If they are doing it in India, then they are violating laws of the country. Since they want to reach Hindi speaking audience, they publish more such ads in Hindi too,” he says.It is true. A simple search on Google, Yahoo and Microsoft throws up variety of results on ways to conceive a baby boy. “There is also an option giving feedback that people can choose. Such information or videos or images should not be published in websites in our country as the law does not permit it,” he says. Sabu Mathew says that as per the directions of the SC, a meeting has to be held of technological experts from both sides on ways and means to keep off such ads.Dr Asha Benakappa, Director, Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, says such ads are utterly irresponsible in the current scenario. “The sex ratio in Northern India is so skewed that they come to southern India looking for brides. At present, the sex ratio in North Indian states is 1000:920. In states like Rajasthan and Punjab it is 1000:870. These advertisements will only worsen the sex ratio,” she says.Dr Asha says that “only antenatal detection is allowed” if a mother has had a history of delivering children having genetic disorders. Under the Pre-conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act 1994, if a sex determination test is conducted, the doctor or relatives of a lady will be imprisoned for five years or three years and penalised with Rs1 lakh. For a first time offence, the doctor will be placed under suspension from practicing from five years. For second time, he or she will be banned for lifetime as per Medical Council of India guidelines.According to Dr M Rajani, Deputy Director, (PC