Female Foeticide


Female Foeticide

As part of its 50th anniversary celebrations of the Declaration of Human Rights in 1998, the United Nations launched a global campaign for elimination of gender-based violence. The objective was to influence public opinion and attitudes, policies, practices and legislation to facilitate a violence-free life for women. Female foeticide is one extreme manifestation of violence against women – a social problem that is now spreading unchecked across the country. Female foetuses are selectively aborted after pre-natal sex determination, thus denying girls a 'Right to Life' which is the first right given to all children by the UN Rights of the child 1989. In India where female infanticide has existed for centuries, now female foeticide is on an upswing. The reasons for this evil are the introduction and proliferation of pre-natal diagnostic test / sex determination clinics and cheaper ultra-sound machines that help determine the sex of a child inside the womb. The dramatic reduction of birth rates of the girl child in most states of India is because of a preference given to a male child in the existing patriarchal society. It is also due to lack of principles and ethics in the medical profession that has resulted in escalation of this social problem. This is not a unique sociological phenomenon confined to a particular state; in fact, the trend is catching up all over the country; even in diverse cultural contexts where there has been relative greater gender equality – for example, Uttaranchal.

Where Uttranchal stands.........

According to 2001 Census, children sex ratio (0-6 years) in Uttaranchal is 906 girls per 1000 boys. These statistics need to be publicized so that the awareness can be raised and civil society can initiate appropriate action. Although the government has amended strict rules and legislations in this context, any of the social evil cannot be eliminated, without effective community cooperation. Therefore, every group of civil society, including youth and the voluntary organization must participate to work for this social cause. Media must also work whole-heartedly to fight against this social stigma.

SBMA's Role

Keeping in mind, the escalating figures of female foeticide in Uttaranchal, SBMA started KOPAL: Female Foeticide Elimination Program in Uttaranchal with the help of six district partner NGOs. The financial support is being provided by 'Plan India' and 'Vatsalya' is acting as resource agency for the program.

Our search for truth.........

Dr Fatima (State Homeopathic Dr) went with a pregnant woman to the Khandurie nursing home. She had a tape recorder under her burkha that she had switched on and recorded Dr Khandurie first saying that she did not do sex determination tests and later on call the woman back and say that Rs 600/- were too little she usually charges Rs 1500/-. Dr Fatima then tried to book the Dr under the PPNDT act but she was not allowed to and the CMO himself did not come to support Dr Fatima as the Khandurie nursing home has political backing. Even the media blacked out the issue.After this Kanya Jeevan Dayni and Dr Fatima went to meet the DG Health (Dr Arya) who promised an enquiery into the issue and then he will take action.

Bold PPNDT committee of Dehradun conducted a raid lead by the CMO Shri D.C Dhyani on a clinic run by Dr Chitra Agarwal. They enacted a play and found the clinic guilty of practicing gender testing. The clinic said would charge 900 rupees to disclose the gender of the feotus. When Dr Chitra realised that Mrs Fatima was not pregnant she knew she had been trapped.

The PPNDT committee has started the process of canceling Dr Chitra's registration. This issue has been highlighted in the Amar Ujjala, Dainik Jagran and other state newspapers. The story was reported on the front page.

Concientising our Youths..............

In Pithoragarh at a Mountain Children’s Forum Meeting the issue of gender discrepancy was discussed. Young girls from the village gave an interview saying that despite education nothing had changed in the status of the Girl in the village. It was at this meeting that the boys who were also attending the meeting took an oath that when they went back to their village they would be more sensitive to their sisters and the girls of their village.

"Kunti" striving to make a difference................

Also at the meeting was a young girl called Kunti Rawat from Gairsain Chamoli (the president of the cluster level Bal Panchayat) who is a role model for all other children in the villages and can help stop sex determination. Kunti is a young girl who almost dropped out of school. But with a little motivation from SBMA/Plan she continues her studies and created a Bal Panchayat. This Bal Panchayat is now famous in her village and in Gairsain as well. In Pithoragarh she had the journalists making an exclusive story on her and her Bal Panchyat and the work they did for their village and region. She is an independent thinker, self-confident and is sure that she will make a difference to the way girls are perceived. "A bridge to the gender gap".

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