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The prime minister's office (PMO) on Monday took serious note of the report in HT that exposed scores of surgeries being performed by Indore doctors, promising to convert girls as young as one to five years — apparently with gender ambiguity — into boys.
The surgery, known as genitoplasty, is done on the premise or pretext that these children have internal organs that don't match their external genitalia.
"The PMO has taken note of the serious issues that arise from the story on doctors in Indore turning young baby girls into boys, which appeared under your byline in the Hindustan Times on June 26, 2011,” said a senior official in the PMO in a mail to this reporter.
Earlier, speaking to HT on the phone, the PMO official said a National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) team would be sent to Indore soon to investigate the matter. He said new laws could be framed, if necessary, to deal with such medical processes.
"It has been decided to obtain reports from the ministries of women and child development, health and family welfare about this. The ministries have also been requested to see if laws are being violated and if there are adequate legal safeguards against genitoplasty on young children. One cannot subject infants to any such surgery,” the official said in his mail.
The NCPCR took suo motu cognisance of the HT report, saying the practice "amounts to child rights violations in terms of perpetuation of the age-old preference for boys and biases against the girl child …”
The commission asked the Madhya Pradesh government to get the matter investigated by a team of doctors known for their professional competence and ethical standards and to submit a report in 15 days.
The report has to cover the facts, figures and circumstances of the cases; the list of doctors and hospitals involved in the surgeries and actions taken or planned against them, and awareness campaigns to be planned by the state on the effects of sex-change operations.
The state has also been asked to take necessary actions, including cancellation of licences and registration of doctors and hospitals involved and initiating criminal cases against them.
Mahendra Hardia, minister of state for medical education, said, “If this is indeed happening, it is absolutely wrong. I have asked the joint director, health, of Indore to look into the matter and fill me in with details. Only then can we decide on what action is to be taken.”