Consultation on Sex Selection Campaign and Women’s Access to Health Services in Rajasthan – Jaipur, 21 June, 2014
The campaign against sex selection in many states of India, including Rajasthan, has following the Census 2011 results, renewed focus and refined strategies to more effectively curb the practice of prenatal sex selection. New, or renewed, interventions have included regular monitoring of prenatal (especially ultrasound) diagnostic centres; installation of ‘active tracker’ software in many machines under court orders; tracking of pregnancies by health and/or NGO workers soon after their registration; decoy clients seeking sex selection; the legal prosecution of offenders; and a multi-media communication campaign.
Barring their impact on the practice of sex selection, the campaign has not hitherto focussed on the impact of these interventions on provider behaviour with respect to the provision of related services or on the impact on women’s access to health care. There is increasing evidence that in reaction to the problem of sex selection, curbs have been placed on the licensing of health facilities for providing safe abortion services and on the availability of medical abortion drugs in the market. Questions have been raised about how health providers, including gynaecologists, radiologists, nurse-midwives and community health volunteers have adapted to the signals of the campaign; whether women’s access to ultrasound services has changed; and, where applicable, how women have responded to being tracked during early pregnancy.
Objectives of the Consultation
- To review the situation in Rajasthan with respect to women’s access to health services – safe abortions, ultrasound etc. and their likely interconnections with the sex selection campaign
- To gather perspectives on how the campaign has impacted provider and health system behaviour and women’s responses
- To consider ways to make the campaign against sex selection more effective while also ensuring women’s continued access to health services