In spite of over six decades of Independence, in spite of India making rapid progress in science, technology and other fields, the picture that we see of India as of now is not one that can be appreciated, especially in terms of its treatment to the fairer sex. Discrimination against girl children, parents' neglect of the girl child, illegal abortions and female infanticide are clear instances of this. Female foeticide is one such grave social problem arising out of strong traditional thoughts and patriarchal society that has translated into an obsessive preference for sons and discrimination against girls. Through the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971, abortion in India became legal up to twenty weeks, and under specific conditions. Gender-based abortions have been illegal since 1994 with the Pre-conception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act. On May 16, 2016, the Times of India reported that the BMC data collated from registered medical termination of pregnancies (MTP) centres showed that 34,790 women underwent medical abortion in 2015-16.
Every two hours in India, a woman dies from an unsafe abortion. Each year, 19 million to 20 million women risk their lives to undergo unsafe abortions, conducted in unsanitary conditions by unqualified practitioners or practitioners who resort to traditional but rudimentary means. (Anjani Trivedi, July 19, 2013)
The girl is regarded as an economic disaster to the family; they need an expensive dowry for the groom's family. Though the payment of dowry has been illegal in India since 1961 (Dowry Prohibition Act), the practice of accepting dowry remains widespread across castes, religions, even among the educated. The understanding of parents is that the girl won't continue the family name, and to bring up a daughter is like watering a neighbour's plant. A total of 24,771 dowry deaths have been reported in the country in the past three years. (PTI, New Delhi. Published: July 31, 2015)
Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 provides a remedy for neglected wives to seek maintenance from their husbands. Maintenance cases go on for years, and the amount decided in favour of women can be as low as Rs 500/-. Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code deals with domestic violence and cruelty towards women by the husband or his family. It is recorded that between 2007 to 2013, the number of cases registered under this section has consistently gone up, while the conviction rate of cases has come down.