Save the Girl Child

As I am standing before you I am overcome by sadness and a sense of failure. I wish to share the same with you and with our health Minister Mr.Suresh Shetty who had agreed to join us today. The latest census data exposes the inadequacy of our efforts and our collective failure which let 7 million girls go missing from our population over the last 10 years. In spite of the activists and all those who are working for the cause shouting hoarse about the falling sex ratio there was hardly any urgency in the efforts of the government to curb the practice of illegal pre-birth sex determination.

Now we have a situation where pre-birth sex selection has ceased to be a phenomenon of a few states or districts. It has almost become a pan India phenomena. Except six states all the others have shown a decline in sex ratio.  Three of the six states Punjab (874), Haryana ( 830), Gujarat ( 886) had only minor improvements and are still far from the national average of 914 girls per 1000 boys.  While we were sure that sex ratio would further decline in Maharashtra, the figure 883 came as a shock to many of us.  Mumbai recording a fall of 48 points and reaching 874 girls per 1000 boys was a shocker.

The media is covering the issue extensively and the government has launched a campaign to Save the Girl Child. Do we really need to be in such dire straits to wake up and put our act together? Do we need the foetuses to float in a nallah to push us into action.  I have a few questions to the Health Minister who is with us today on behalf of all of us. Why did the Maharashtra government take 3 years to constitute the State Supervisory Board? Why are the advisory boards not constituted or called for meetings as per the requirements under the law? Why does the government shy away from treating the issue as one of medical malpractice and illegal business by some doctors? How come whenever we speak of pre-birth sex selection the focus shifts to controlling abortions and monitoring and harassing of women?  Why don’t we try to understand what is it that has changed in our perennially son preferring society that makes the choice of eliminating girls and making a business out of it so easy. We did not have bad sex ratios even when we were a newly liberated country in 1960’s! What has changed now?

Our aspirations have changed thanks to liberalization and the visibility of prosperity all around us. Choices have become accessible and affordable thanks to aggressive marketing of technologies. But unfortunately, nothing much has changed with regard to the status of women. It is such a sad joke that whenever we say mind set change we only think of posters, banners and films. Do they really change our attitudes? Would I like to have a daughter just because I saw a poster, if I am not sure that she would get quality education in safe and sensitive schools which would help her become economically independent? Will I dream of sending her to work if I am not confident of her safety, security and equal opportunities at work place? Will I fight for my unborn daughter if I am not confident of the efficiency of the legal system, sincerity n honesty of the administrative system and support systems available for me – half way homes, child support, career n legal counseling, employment opportunities etc if I chose to leave the abusive family?

Mind sets change when we change the circumstances in which we live, communication helps but it is not adequate in itself. We have some of the most progressive laws but very little financial as well as human investments are made in implementing them effectively.

The shortage of women will only make the atrocities on women increase making girls that much more vulnerable and unwanted, trapping us into a vicious circle. We need the government to be proactive on many fronts and act with sincerity and accountability. It is heartening to that the Govt of Maharashtra has launched the  www.amchimulgi.gov.in  website for online registration of complaints and a help line as well to register complaints as well as to provide counselling services to women facing family pressure to go for sex determination. I request each one of you to be vigilant and complain online whenever you visit a clinic and find that it is not complying with the law or whenever you get to know that somebody had been informed about the sex of the foetus by a doctor.

The things that you need to look into are:

·         A board at an ultrasound clinic saying sex selection is a punishable crime

·         2 copies of the PCPNDT Act should be available

·         Registration certificate of ultrasound machine

·         Registration certificate of doctor/radiologist

·         F and G forms to be filled up correctly

·         The sex of the foetus should not be revealed in any which way

We hope the government works on the complaints with alacrity. We have developed some real good communication material and hope the government uses it to promote the website.

We have launched the Million signatures campaign in 2009 and we have been collecting signatures to demand the government to initiate a few programmatic/policy interventions.

Our demands include:

·         Reconstituting the advisory boards as per law

·         Conduct a social audit of reports submitted by the clinics

·         Make available online data of USG machines sold by companies

·         Institute a special fast track court

·         Appoint a special prosecutor at the state level

·         Initiate legal action against clinics for any violation of the Act

We have received 60,000 signatures so far. These signatures are received through SMSes, emails, and through signatures obtained at various events, colleges and organizations. I am sure many of you have signed the pledge card. Sir, we do not have much time, we need to act and act now. We have to keep our personal, professional and political agenda’s aside and fight for the rights of the girls. . Sir, we do not have much time, we need to act and act now. We have to keep our personal, professional and political agenda’s aside and fight for the rights of the girls. It is not just about her! It is about us as people, us as a society and us as a country.

To make your Pledge, do Sign Up for our 1 Million Signature Campaign against Gender Selection at https://bitly.com/PledgeLaadli

Over the last few days, multiple articles on the declining Child Sex Ratio have flooded all newspapers following the revelations of the recent census (2011). Child Sex ratio (CSR) is the number of females per 1000 males in the 0-6 age group. Census 2011 has revealed that the child sex ratio in the country has declined to touch the lowest levels since Independence.

How do we react when we read such articles in the papers? Is it just another piece of news, which is to go down with our morning breakfast and be forgotten? Can we be mute spectators to this senseless discrimination against the girl child? Or can we do something about it?

Looking back we see planned advocacy against pre-birth sex selection started in the early ‘80s in Maharashtra and soon became a national agenda (on paper) when brought to the forefront by a handful of activists. Few years later the PCPNDT Act was enacted to regulate the use and misuse of technology for the purpose of sex selection. Then why do we still see a decline in the sex ratio?

The implementation of the law is becoming extremely difficult as sex detection is done within the doctor-patient confidentiality. The only foolproof method to stop this crime of pre-birth sex selection is to bring about a change in the mindsets of the people. Let good sense prevail and let’s neither practice this crime nor turn a blind eye to it.

We at Population First are working tirelessly towards the cause of the Girl Child and very specifically against pre-birth sex selection through the Laadli Campaign. Today the issue has reached such colossal proportions that a multipronged strategy with the single goal of balancing the sex ratio is the need of the hour. This is not an issue that can be dealt by a few but requires a mass movement. Here is one way you can be part of this movement.

The National Creative Excellence Awards for Social Change provides a platform to share your Communication Ideas to fight the CRIME of pre-birth sex selection.  Log on to www.creative-excellence.org to know more.

For the last few days all those working on the issue of falling sex ratio have been waiting with bated breath for the release of the provisional census data. That the child sex ratio (CSR) i.e the number of girls per thousand boys in the 0-6 age group will register a fall was a foregone conclusion but the anxiety was by HOW MUCH? The data is out, the wait is over and we still cannot breathe easy.

The CSR is an important indicator not only because it reflects the pre-birth elimination of girls but also the discrimination against girls once they are born.  It is true that more girls die during childhood than boys. Some under enumeration also has to be factored in as many families do not report the presence of girls in the family  (Though,let me clarify that it is not a major contributor to the CSR)

At the national level CSR declined from 923 to 914 between the last two censuses. The decline of 13 points from 2001 to 2011 as compared to 18 points between 1991 (945) and 2001(927) may offer some consolation to all those working on the issue. But the fact remains that gender discrimination is continuing to be rampant.

he data shows that the overall percentage of children in the 0-6 age group has reduced by 2.8 %. They constituted 15.9% of the population in 2001 as compared to 13.1% in 2011. This indicates lowering fertility rates- a negative growth rate in this segment of the population. However, it is important to note that if we look at the growth rate among boys and girls which is -2.42 and -3.80, it is clear that girls are not really having a fair chance of survival due to discrimination at birth and during childhood.  As we always said, a small family is desired but a son is a must.

What is worrying is that while there has been some improvement in the CSR of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Tamilnadu, Gujarat, Mizoram and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in the remaining 27 states and UTs the sex ratios have recorded a decline. This shows that the phenomena of discrimination is no longer limited to a few pockets but is almost assuming epidemic proportions. The SRS data of 2007 on sex ratio at birth highlighted this phenomenon and now census has confirmed it.

This poses new set of challenges to the programme managers and civil society organizations. We cannot remain focused on a few districts or states alone any longer. While it is imperative that all that is possible is done to regulate the illegal practice of sex determination there, it is equally important that we regulate the sale and mushrooming of ultrasound clinics and machines elsewhere. The poor records of machines sold, poor compliance of the PCPNDT Act requirements by the clinics, and dismal performance of authorities in regulating these machines needs to be acknowledged and appropriate administrative mechanisms need to be put in place immediately all over the country. It is no longer a problem of “those” states. It is a problem of every district and state.

I am saddened to note that Maharashtra had a fall of 30 points from 913 to 883 between 2001 and 2011 in CSR. That the political will is lacking is evident from the fact that the State Supervisory Board was constituted recently after almost three years and has shown utter lack of understanding of the issue in its very first meeting. It is demotivating to see the people in power still thinking that Maharashtra is not as bad as others!

The alarm bells are ringing. It’s time for all of us to wake up from our stupor and fight for the girl child.

Please respond by posting your comments.

We are really excited to have received a great response to the NCEA contest. Many film makers, advertisers, photographers, graphic designers and other media people have registered for the event. It is indeed heart warming to see that so many media professionals have come forward to lend their voice to the Laadli Cause.

There are also a number of requests received from media professionals who have not been able to register and upload their entries as yet. Because of the overwhelming response and number of requests received, we are extending the last date of registration and entry submission from 30th March 2011 to 20th April 2011.

So all of you who have not yet been able to join in, have another chance to take part. So register NOW!  Don’t miss the opportunity to enter the contest.

You can register and upload your entries on www.creative-excellence.org. Looking forward to getting all your responses.

 

Don’t miss the Bus!!! “Laadli-National Creative Excellence Awards” closes on 30th March 2011

Don’t hold back. Showcase your creativity while being a part of the cause to help the future of the Girl Child.

Send in your entries for the 2nd edition of the Laadli-National Creative Excellence Awards for social change on the theme:

  • Sex determination is a crime under the PCPNDT Act
  • Squealing is good if it is to protect the Girl Child
  • You can make a difference by being vigilant and lodging complaints on www.hamaribeti.nic.in

Read about the contest on our earlier blogs What’s your big Idea to support the campaign against Sex Selection? and Lets save our Laadli.

Upload your entries on to www.creative-excellence.org. If you find it difficult to upload, you can send your entries via e-mail or in a CD/DVD via post to the following address:

Population First
Shetty House, 3rd Floor,
101 M G Road,
Mumbai [Bombay], PIN : 400 023, INDIA

Telephones: 91-22- 2262 6599 / 6672
Fax: 91 22 2270 2217

E-mail: creative.excellence@populationfirst.org
laadli.creativeexcellence@gmail.com

What are YOU waiting for?? Register Now


The latest figures of girl and boy child ratio across the state have sent alarm bells ringing. Maharashtra is supposed to be the countries most progressive state. But it is shameful that recent figures released by the State Health Mission Resource Centre show that the ratio of female children per 1,000 male children has been declining.

As per the figures, the ratio of female children per 1,000 male children (age group 0-6 yrs) was 946 in 1991, 913 in 2001 and 908 in 2009.

Figures of Mumbai have been 928 per thousand, which is a sharp contrast that the tribal areas like Thane, Nandurbar etc show a better ratio at 950 per 1000.

Alarmingly, the worrisome scenario exists in some of the rich districts. The districts include Pune  895, Satara 896, Kolhapur 854, Sangli 868, Ahmadnagar 852, Aurangabad 888, Jalgaon 857, Solapur 897.

The state government says they will launch a campaign to stop pre-natal sex discrimination.

If this is the condition of  regions where the population is so called prosperous, educated and liberal minded, it is extremely shameful. What message are we sending out to the other states and sections of society?

As part of the campaign, the government has proposed that the tablets used for abortion which are available easily will soon be included in the scheduled drugs list. This is indeed preposterous. Instead of clamping down on the illegal sex testing by clinics and doctors, the legislation aims at clamping on the simple rights of women. Pills are NOT and CANNOT used for sex selection, which the ignorant should know.

QFKZDHPMTDUG

The decision of the Government of Maharashtra to regulate the sale of abortion pills to control sex selective abortions is ill informed, misdirected and regressive.

  1. Abortion pills are not used by the women going for pre-birth selection as the pills are effective only upto a gestation period of 49 days while the sex of a baby can be known only after 12 weeks of pregnancy.
  2. Every year an average of 11 million abortions take place (around 6 million of these are illegal) and around 20,000 women die every year due to abortion related complications.
  3. Monitoring the women buying abortion pills from the pharmacy is regressive as it undermines their confidentiality and rights
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: