“She is a daughter, she is a sister, she is a friend, and then she holds a hand. She is a wife, she is a mother, she is the one who struggles, and she suffers from the plight”
Female infanticide is killing a new born girl within 24 hours of baby birth. The responsible factors may include poverty and social abusing against the girl child. But infanticide ratio has been declined with changing trends of modern society. But this evil is still continuing in some remote areas. We know Kerala is most literate state in India but it also accounts most female feticide cases. Every year Kerala records 25,000 female infanticide cases while the other states like Punjab, Bihar and Rajasthan present a far worse scenario. Midwives play a key role in female infanticide when the baby girl is delivered. Some people put salt in the mouth of the girl child, some others bury them alive in the clay. Female infanticide is more in countries like china and India where population is more with less development factors.
The child sex ratio is a powerful indicator of any social concerns of the society. Child sex ratio is number of girls per 1000 boys. It is declined from 976 to 927 in 1961 to 927 as per the 2001 census. Some states have less than 800 girls for every 1000 boys.
The main reasons for high number of female feticide cases in India include ancient traditional son preference, dowry evil, concern for the safety of a girl child and abuse of women and girl children. To improve the female sex ratio, the government has adopted various legislative measures like campaign programmes, awareness programmes for socio economic empowerment of women.
Statistics reveal below interesting facts about female infanticide:
1. 1 out of every 3 girls life is ending at the age of 15 years
2. One third of female infanticide deaths are taking place at the time of birth
3. Every 6th girl child is dying due to gender discrimination
4. 1 out of 10 women is suffering from child abuse in their childhood from their near and dear people only
5. 1 out of 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 4
6. 19% of the abused girls are between the age 4 and 8
7. 28% of abused girls are aged between 8 and 12
8. 35% of abused girls are between the age 12 and 16
9. 53% of girls are illiterates in the age group of 5 to 9 years
10. Every year 27, 06, 000 under 5 years girl child deaths are taking place in India.
Most of the families kill girl babies for financial reasons:
• Earning power: In traditional Indian families, men are usually the main income-earners because they earn more wages for the same work done by the women.
• Potential pensions: In many Indian societies, parents depend on their male children to look after them in their old age. Indian girls leave parental family and join her husband’s family after getting married. But when a son gets married he stays along with his parents and look after them in their old age. This is the strongest reason to support a male child. Some parents who are unable to support large families are also killing their girl child.
• Dowry: Dowry, a traditional system in Indian families, may not be affordable by poor families sometimes as it includes large amounts of money, valuable goods and jewellery as per the family status.
Female infanticide is the growing concern in the society. To stop female feticide, prenatal diagnostic techniques act, 1994 was issued to prohibit and regulate the prenatal diagnostic techniques. Government is spreading awareness campaign programmes through AIR, Doordarshan, Song and Drama Division, Directorate of Field Publicity, Press Information Bureau, Films Division and DAVP. Workshops and seminars have been conducted by NGOs, State, regional, district level voluntary organizations. To discrete the gender discrimination the government has launched “Save the Girl Child” campaign program to reach a balanced sex ratio. The government is taking initiatives from the ground level by forming a vigilant monitoring committee at panchayat level and maintaining the birth and death reports sex wise and age wise.
The other legislations enacted by the government are as follows:
• Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961(Amended in 1986)
• Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
• Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956
• Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1986
• Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
Balika Samriddhi Yojana
Balika samriddhi yogana is launched in 1997 to change the status of the girl child in society. The government offers Rs. 500 post delivery grant to the below poverty line women. Till now 25 lakhs below poverty line families were benefitted through this scheme.
The other services provided by the government are:
• Supplementary nutrition programme
• Preschool education
• Health check-up
• Referral service
• Health and nutrition education
• Early detection and early intervention of childhood disabilities
• Cancer suraksha fund for child patients
The below myths and facts play important roles in female feticide:
Myth 1: A girl child is a burden
Fact 1: A girl child is not a burden. Today government is encouraging girl child by providing education, job opportunities, equality in terms and conditions and inheritance laws.
Myth 2: A boy will look after the parents in their old age; the girl will marry and go away
Fact 2: Due to the changing trends, a girl is also working and earning equally with male. With the changes that have occurred in Indian society over time and establishment of nuclear families, more and more elderly couples are living alone.
Myth 3: Mother is responsible for sex of a child
Fact 3: It is not true that the mother alone is responsible for the birth of a female child. The fact is that the human body has 23 pairs of chromosomes. One of each pair comes from the father and mother of the child, respectively. 22 pairs are responsible for the development of different parts of the body. The last 2 chromosomes are responsible for the gender of the child.
Myth 4: Parents of a girl child feel inferior in the society
Fact 4: This is not true. It is just a psychological feeling.