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Save the girl child

On » Saturday, April 16, 2011 //
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When God made Adam, he also made Eve. But looking at the current provisional Census data released by the government of India, I really wished God had made provisions for one Eve for every Adam. In a country presided by a woman and where the 'hand' behind the ruling party is that of a woman, the census shows a really shameful face of India when it come to the child sex ratio. The 'Save a Girl Child' campaign has again gained momentum in India. Slogans, campaigns, posters are all over the place. But what remains a major question is that even after 64 years of Independence, why the girl child still craves for her freedom here in India?

save the girl child india
The census did give us a reason to smile with the welcome news that since the last nine decades, India is finally showing a significant slowing of the growth rate. It gives us a ray of hope that India's population will definitely stabilize in the near future. Also the literacy rate has gone up from 64.83 to 74.04 in the last ten years. But what has really shamed the nation is one statistic that shows the 'child sex ratio' has fallen steeply from 927 in 2001 to 914 in 2011! Even though the number of girls per 1000 boys in the age group of 0-6 has been falling continually since 1961, the fall in the last decade is the worst since independence, as the statistics reveal. So are we moving ahead or backwards?

Cynics will still argue that the overall sex ratio in the general population has in fact increased 932 in 2001 to 940 in 2011 and so we should be happy about it. Yes we definitely should be, but only after accepting the fact that the improvement is a mere reflection of the greater natural longevity that the female sex enjoys over its counterpart and also to the recent advances and improvement in the health care sector. It can be my no means be used as a blanket to cover the disturbing reality of the declining child-sex ratio.

The recent census has widened the gap between the northern and the southern India. Though the north-east states show a very healthy picture with Mizoram, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh displaying the most admirable picture of child sex ratio, the rest of the country has shown decline in the stats with even Kerala and Puducherry failing to sustain the upgoing ratio back in 2001. Only a few states like Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram and Andaman and Nicobar have shown improvement.

So where have we actually gone wrong? Everyday most of the dailies have some or the other editor emphasizing the fact that India is evolving into a global superpower. But what piece of wisdom explains the continually plummetting number of girl child as compared to the boys? The reasons are many! People started misusing the concept of the MTP act that was laid down in 1971. It took 23 years for the government to realise this, before the act was amended in 1994 so as to criminalise the practice of getting an ultrasound scan done for the sole purpose of determining the sex of the foetus. But that was certainly not going to be enough. Even the new PNDT act has failed to keep up to it's name and has not been strictly implemented as many studies have revealed.

Looking at the way this issue is handled in this country, it is rightly said that 'The hardest profession one can take in life is to be a girl child.' Right from the time she is in the womb to her adulthood, its not just the male domination in the society that is responsible for the pain and discrimination she goes through but even the elder females in the family contribute to it. Female foeticide, infanticide, early marriage, sex-discrimination and dowry are the social evils that have crippled the society right from the pre-independence era. It has become a norm in the northern and the western states of India that a male child is a must so as to inherit the name of the family for many generations to come.

Ever wondered what would be the consequences if the child sex ratio keeps dipping down in the years to come? If not, dont be shocked that the 'doomsday' has already started showing it's ugly face in northern states like Haryana where people have finally started 'buying' girls from other states like Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa and the North East so as to give birth to their family inheritor. Often the poor girl is 'shared' by men in the same family and once the 'motive' is accomplished the same girl is resold. This 'bride-trading' has become a concept that will be hard to erase unless and until some major stringent action is taken by the competent authorities in near future.

What are the reasons that is pushing this 'global superpower' so behind when it comes to gender equality? Certainly the three main factors are Poverty, Illiteracy and lack of awareness about health resources. Poverty leads to malnutrition. It is said that out of 7.5 crore malnourished children in India 75% are females! It is no surprise that how nutrition wise girls are still discriminated even during their adolescence. This further results in various reproductive disorders. Add to it, the custom of child marriages and early marriages with ill-planned pregnancies and lack of proper health care. Needless to say that dowry and domestic violence are the next social evils that many women in our country have to face with a notion which they are expected to accept that its natural to suffer because of the X chromosome which they have inherited. With 70% of our population coming from the rural setup, this picture is really alarming. 

To all those who are still stuck in this age old ideology of male inheritor, I request you all to please free up your mind. Listen to your inner voice, listen to the unseen face of that beautiful life inside that womb which asks you 'Why?' every time a thought crosses your mind to take away her right to see this beautiful world even before she is born. In the end it's not the 50:50 sex ratio that is important but the equality in the thoughts of each one of us towards a girl child and the acknowledgement in her abilities to stand at par with the male sex that should make the difference. Its not about how one sex is superior than the other or which sex has an advantage over the other. Its all about giving equal opportunities to both of them and not resort to the devils in your mind that doubt the abilities a girl child has, to bring a smile on your face. Its high time that the gender bias should be uprooted from the social ideology and apprehensions towards a girl child be overthrown. 

No wonder why they say, 
"If you educate a man, you educate one person, but if you educate a woman, you educate a whole family!"

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