Dr. Banarsi Lal and Dr. Pawan Sharma
India is celebrating the Beti Bachao, BetiPadhao (BBBP) awareness week from October 9 to 14 in which the several activities are being organised by the various organizations’ to create awareness among the people on the protection of the girl child.The scheme was launched by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi on 22nd of January, 2015 to address the issue of declining sex ratio, enable the women for the education and empower them.The scheme is implemented in the 161 districts of the country where the sex ratio is low.The scheme deals not only on the declining sex ratio but also focuses on females’ education, skill and entrepreneurship development. Efforts to change the attitude of the people towards the girl child are also being made under this scheme by involving the media (both print and electronic) of the country.
Though girl is considered as ‘Lakshmi’ in our society but actually she is considered as a liability. In predominantly male- dominated society, the birth of a girl is still frowned upon and our society is responsible for that. It has been observed that some districts of the country are known for the female infanticide and the parents of the girls live under the shadow of looming dowry which compels them to kill their girl child. The middle class, the upper middle class and rich people like to get rid of girls by using some more scientific methods. One such method is amniocentesis performed by a machine with the help of which a liquid is inserted into the womb with the help of a needle. The liquid produces foam which helps to find out the sex of a child. The Indian Government is making strenuous efforts to create the awareness among the people against this evil and many new schemes/programmes are launched by the Government to eradicate this evil. Both female infanticide and foeticide have led to a declining sex ratio in our country showing an unacceptable trend that the female species has no right to be born and no right to survive. Abandoning girls only perpetuated the ingrained discrimination against girls. Has the so called modern society of ours a right to meddle in the process of God’s creation?
The Census of 2011 revealed that the sex ratio in the 0-6 age group is worst now than in any decade since independence. The child sex ratio in 2011 has registered an all-time low figure of 914 girls per 1000 boys.This decline is more for rural areas from 934 in 2001 to 919 in 2011, and for urban areas it is 906 in 2001 and 902 in 2011.Sex ratio is an important demographic indicator reflecting the socioeconomic structure of any nation.In present era with the advent of modern technology, the practice of female infanticide has been replaced by genocide of millions of women known as female foeticide-denying the girl her very right to take birth. Theuses of ultrasounds and amniocentesis for sex determination followed by sex selective induced abortions have created a situation of daughter drought with tragic consequences.The sociological research has proved that declining female sex ratio in any society is associated with social distress, increased incidences of violence, anxiety and in extreme cases ultimate social degeneration. In India declining sex ratio is a very serious issue and needs an immediate solution.
Both the states of Haryana and Punjab are considered as the most prosperous states of the country. But the data reveals that the states of Haryana and Punjab are famous for the female foeticide and female infanticide, are the worst performers in this category, with the former recording 830 females and latter recording 846 females per thousand males. It has been observed through various studies that education and affluence seems to have positive correlation with a decline in the sex ratio. The decline has been observed more in case of educated women than the uneducated women. Son preference is observed not only in Punjab and Haryana but across the nation. In the patriarchal societies especially in North India son is considered as the joy factor while two are seen as the lifetime celebration. The traditional thinking being that if one dies, at least the son will take care of parents. The girl is considered as an economic burden in the family. This is the reason that some parents go for sex detection which enables them to know the sex of the foetus and abort if it is girl child. It has been found that female foeticide and infanticides is not merely a phenomenon which is associated with poverty and economic burden. Rather it is found more in case of rich and influential families. A son is considered as the controller of the land and hence is preferred in the families. Even after 70 years of the Indian independence son is still considered as the main actor in matters of inheritance of ancestral property and daughters keep on maintaining peripheral roles.
There is dire need to pass a strict law against the misuse of Pre-diagnostic techniques and such laws should be implemented with the spirit. There is urgent need to eliminate this great social evil. The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act came in 1994.The Act whose rules were framed in 1996 and came into force on January 1, 1996, regulates pre-natal diagnostic techniques and covers the use of ultrasound machines. We have Anti-dowry Act, Child Marriage Restraint Act, laws punishing rapists but very few among the offenders are nabbed. They find many loopholes through which they find a safe exit.The disturbing trend has already started influencing the institution of marriage in the society. The current sex ratio in Punjab indicates that there are only four women available for every five men. In many cases the men from Punjab and Haryana are marrying women from outside states. Such marriages represent undocumented type that cannot be explained adequately within the framework of categories available for understanding marriage and non-marriage transactions involving women i.e. sexual trafficking, bride price marriage and buying of women for marriage. Men, who are unable for marriage, buy women from poor families. The persistence and spread of poor sex ratio in Punjab and Harayana states will keep up the demand for brides from other states. Te media sometimes highlight the increasing incidents of sale of girl to the effluents.
Consistent efforts are needed to tackle this menace of declining the sex ratio. Law is the only solution but change of mindset of the people is more important that perpetuates the prejudice against girls and women. A multipronged strategy is needed to remove the prejudices against the girl child. The states should come forward seriously to fight this menace. Review in the states should begin with the review of the quarterly reports. All states are not filling such reports regularly. There is need to contemplate on the long-term consequences if the girl children are denied to born. Those who still have the notion that boy is an asset and girl is liability need to change their mindset. The doctors who are doing this heinous job need to get the punishment. The certain new schemes such as Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP) should be launched so that the girl child can be protected. Liberal scholarships for all level of education may contribute substantially in getting the achievements for the girls. The Parliament and the state legislatures must lead from the front and support the women empowerment. Enforcement based and incentive based measures may have salutary effect. It is really a challenging task to make India a less-male dominated country.
Serving the girl child
Dr. Banarsi Lal and Dr. Pawan Sharma