February 4, 2012

Article on the Status of the Girl Child in India

Saturday, February 04, 2012 Relief Projects India

The following article appeared in today's edition of the New Indian Express newspaper.

Neglecting girl child a shame to India’s past

The New Indian Express
 04 Feb 2012
That the badge of being ancient civilisations cannot always be worn with pride by India and China is evident from the finding of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs that even in the 21st century the female infant mortality rate in these two countries is higher than that of the male infant mortality rate. Not only that, this dubious distinction was ‘achieved’ when the figures were compared with 148 other countries. What is distressing about such statistics is that not only has the advent of the modern, supposedly more enlightened, age failed to improve the condition of girls, but has even caused a worsening as the falling male-female ratio in India shows.

Female foeticide is a main reason for the skewed ratio which can have damaging social consequences. Yet, the fact that it is the well-to-do who indulge in this patent illegality shows how little awareness there is even among the educated classes of either the moral or the social imperatives. Such brazenness is even more shocking than the desperate acts of the poor who often kill their infant girls or abandon them because they look upon the female child as a financial burden. As the continuing instances of dowry deaths have shown, laws are not a solution to the deep-rooted problem, which is related to a traditional bias against women who are expected to remain subservient to their fathers in childhood, husbands in their youth and sons in old age.

If the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostics Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act has not been a notable success, the reason is the hidden social sanction for preventing the birth of a girl child. Hence, the mushrooming of illegal clinics where sex determination tests are done. In addition to further strengthening the punishment for families opting for such tests, it is the overall uplift of the status of women that can save the girl in the womb and ensure her well-being in later life.