Daughters are a bloom forever
Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
10th October is always observed as the International Day of the Girl .Girls are change-makers. Girls are driving good and growth around the world. They are a fundamental source of transformational change for gender equality, and technology is a crucial tool to support their work, activism and leadership.
Our Indian society is still largely male dominated, and women are often looked down upon. A home is no home, which does not have a daughter. It is only because of our mothers that we live today. Inequality about girl child is a vast problem which includes many areas like inequality in education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, protection, honour, child marriage and so many.
India loses an average of 7,000 girls every day through abortions because of a traditional preference for sons. Abortions have also resulted in a severely skewed gender ratio in India, where there are only 927 females for every 1,000 males — far lower than the worldwide average of 1,050 females.
In our country, female literacy rate is still 53.87% and one third of the youngster girls are malnourished. Our Constitution entitles women to equal opportunities and rights, but in some parts of the land the rate of female foeticide was high and the gender ratio terribly skewed. Girls are not being sent to school in many places and women face prejudice and discrimination at the workplace.
In India the population of girls has been decreasing. We need to understand that girls are our fortune. Socio-economic empowerment of women is essential for making informed decisions and for change of the mind sets.
A healthy male-female ratio is a social need. While female foeticide is bad in itself, the fact that millions of girls are “missing” in India has profound human and social implications. A stronger law to deal with those resorting to sex-selective abortions needs to be enacted. The reasons for high number of incidence of female foeticide in India include a deep rooted traditional son preference, continued practice of dowry and concern for safety of the girl child and exploitation and abuse of women and girl children.
In order to curb female foeticide and improve the sex ratio, a strong a multi-pronged strategy that includes legislative measures, advocacy, awareness generation and programmes for socio-economic empowerment of women is needed.
According to a study in India by an Indo-Canadian team of researchers, about 5,00,000 female foetuses have been aborted annually. This estimate appears to be closer to the truth. Atrocities against women are on the rise, and female foeticide is one of the most brutal of them all. Despite a slew of laws to prevent female foeticide and schemes to encourage families to have girl child, the ratio is declining.
Female foeticide is a shocking practice that has grown in the last few decades. Although the media and the government have made attempts to highlight the negative impact of pre-natal sex identification and selective abortion, the practice continues as reflected in the declining sex ratio.
There’s a huge deficit of women because families fear the cost of raising a daughter. It is a commonly practiced tradition (despite being outlawed) that the bride’s family pays a large sum of money to the groom’s family at the wedding. Plus, women are generally not seen as bread-winners and or allowed to inherit wealth like men in some states.
Sex-selection is now spreading to rural areas as the technology gets cheaper and enforcement of the law remains ineffectual. The imbalance in sex ratio may increase violence, including rape, against women. With many men remaining unmarried, prostitution will increase substantially.
Media exposes of doctors providing sex-selection services and offering to abort girls are commonplace, but they have little overall impact because demand is too strong. Doctors and radiologists conducting, or soliciting parents for, sex determination tests can be imprisoned up to five years and fined up to Rs.50,000. Despite the PC & PNDT Act, the conviction rate is low and the selection of male child before conception and female foeticide continue to take place.
Despite rising levels of education, gender awareness and stringent pro-women laws, change has been slow and violence against women is increasing. Visionary leadership, stringent implementation of laws and a united effort to discourage dowry are the need of the hour. Educational programmes encouraging parents to view daughters as no less valuable than sons need to be mounted. Time has now come to formulate an action plan to launch a campaign to change the mindset of people and to promote female child birth rate
We Indians call our nation mother India and are great devotees of Mother Goddess in various manifestations. But is this devotion and respect for the country limited to only a few words or do well actually implement these values.
No, we all are openly playing a double standard game with our country. One way we say mother India and the other way we are continuously destroying the valuable gift of nature, a girl child. The sex ratio imbalance is a serious issue and finding a solution has to start with making the girl child valuable.
(The author hails from Jodhpur Tekra, Ahmedabad)