The Saga of Female Foeticide In India by Ashok Jain attempts to highlight some of the issues of and considers preventive strategies regarding female foeticide in India. It consists of six chapters over which it traces the historical context of female foeticide in India, examines some of the data on sex ratio in the country, and scrutinizes some policies and debates on abortion, as well as the new reproductive technologies available to those desiring sex selection. The author also outlines international and national legislations regarding the unborn child and abortion, the Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Act and the related concern of medical ethics. Finally he concludes with suggestions for preventive strategies for the problem of female foeticide. In the first chapter the author examines the historical context of female foeticide/infanticide/devaluation of the girl child and woman in India. In order to do this he endeavours to collate information from the pre Vedic period to the present social period. This is an extremely ambitious historical exercise that covers a very large stretch of time, and would require a much greater amount of scholarship than has been put in. Additionally, while mention has been made of contradictory statements in both the Manu Smriti—Islamic texts as well as in the Vedic period as regards the status of women, the author has not examined such comments in detail.
October 2006, volume 30, No 10