Boy or girl? Bangladesh High Court orders restrictions on foetal gender revelation

The government will have to take measures aimed at discouraging hospitals and clinics from revealing the gender of unborn children

Published : 25 Feb 2024, 11:29 AM
Updated : 25 Feb 2024, 11:29 AM

The High Court has ordered restrictions on foetal gender identification tests.

The bench of Justice Naima Haider and Justice Kazi Zinat Hoque on Sunday ordered the government to take measures aimed at discouraging hospitals and clinics from revealing the gender of unborn children.

It also ordered steps to ensure that the health facilities follow the relevant guidelines strictly.

The health ministry will have to save reports of tests on foetuses in a database as per the order issued by the court after the hearing of a writ petition.

Lawyer Ishrat Hossain, who had filed the petition in January 2020, argued for herself while Tirtha Salil Roy represented the Directorate General of Health Services, and Deputy Attorney General Amit Das Gupta stood for the state.

After a primary hearing of the petition, the High Court had asked in February 2020 why the government does not have rules in place to restrict the disclosure of foetal gender identification.

It had issued a rule asking why the failure of the authority in drafting a policy on the issue will not be deemed ‘illegal’.

Foetal gender tests go against the ‘right to life’ and the ‘right to dignity’ of the expectant mother, lawyer Md Abdul Halim had said after the primary hearing four years ago.

He had cited Article 31 of the constitution, which is related to the fundamental right to the protection of the law.

“In many cases, an expectant mother has to endure mental pressure or even physical torture when the third baby is identified as a female foetus, having given birth to two daughters.”

“Sometimes the mother is forced to abort the child after the gender determination test. She faces severe health risks.

“Also, physical development of the unborn child is hampered when the mother goes through physical and mental torture,” Halim had said.

“The gender of an unborn child should be determined only when it is needed for a medical treatment of the child or its mother. As we lack a policy on the issue, the foetal gender is determined and shared indiscriminately.”