Pregnant teenage girls are taking potentially fatal abortion pills and tablets purchased illegally from the Internet, the Maharashtra government informed the Legislative Assembly on Friday, expressing “deep concern” over the development.
Maharashtra’s acting Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection Eknath Khadse said that sellers, mainly operating from foreign countries, were using e-shopping sites to sell drugs to teenage girls too terrified to tell their parents that they are pregnant.
These drugs cannot be sold without prescription and can be fatal if taken in the wrong dosages.The trend appears to be especially disturbing in urban centres. In Mumbai alone, abortions among teenage girls in the age group of 15-19 spiked up to 1,785 in 2014-15, Khadse informed.
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Further, abortions among girls below the age of 15 accounted for 185 instances. According to data collated by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, 111 girls below the age of 15 had undergone an abortion in 2013-14. There were 30,000 abortions among women aged 19 and above in 2014-15.
While Khadse announced that the state government will crack down on such illegal online activities and claimed that instructions regarding such a drive had already been given to authorities, he said that norms governing FDA come under the Centre, and also pointed out that in some cases, investigators have also found that the online shopping sites and the sellers of such drugs operates from offices situated abroad.
“We have written to the Centre seeking their guidance in both matters,” Khadse said.
Khadse also announced that the government had initiated a toll free number 1800 222 365, where complaints against such activities could be registered.
Khadse informed the house that the government had registered cases against two e-shopping sites, namely Snapdeal.com and Shopclues.com, after receiving complaints about such sales, and confirming them.