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Female foeticide still rampant in Delhi: CSR study

Dec 24, 2013

According to the recent UNICEF report, India has lost over one crore girls since 2007.

New Delhi: Female foeticide is still prevalent in many districts of the national capital region of Delhi according to the results of a campaign conducted by Centre for Social Research (CSR). Centre for Social Research (CSR) has been implementing an action-based research programme against gender based sex selection in all the eleven districts of Delhi from February 2013. The action research project supported by the German Embassy, New Delhi aims to arrest the declining sex ratio by creating awareness among the people against the social malpractice of aborting female foetuses by using sex-determination methods.

According to the recent UNICEF report, India has lost over one crore girls since 2007 and there is a dramatic decline in the sex-ratio ironically in the richest states of India. Lesser women are available for marriages particularly in Haryana state where more than 4,50,000 girls have been trafficked from Jharkhand for marriage (UNFPA, New Delhi, 2007). Serious consequences of this practice include increased sexual violence against women, endangering women’s social and economic independence and increased cases of child abuse and incest. While Delhi, as per 2011 census, recorded a low child sex ratio of 866 girls to 1000 boys, the situation is becoming even worse with some sections of media reporting the child sex ratio of 789 girls per 1000 boys in the last quarter.

In her inaugural address Dr. Rashmi Singh, Director, National Mission for Empowerment of Women, MWCD, said “Sex Selective Abortion was earlier considered an urban phenomenon, however, with easy access to technology these days (ultrasound devices) the problem has become much more wide spread and we are witnessing skewed sex ratio even in rural areas. It is unfortunate that in this case the technology is not being used for the betterment of the society, but for destroying the foetus in a woman’s womb. This skewed sex ratio is in turn leading to increased violence against women in the society”.

Addressing the conference, Dr.Ranjana Kumari, Director, Centre for Social Research said, “Our joint efforts with the German Embassy and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has helped in protecting the lives of thousands of daughters. However, we are still seeking answers to several questions for eradicating this evil practice from the face of our society. Apart from women's rights organisations, the medical fraternity also needs to build pressure on the society to curb this problem. We would need the cooperation of various law enforcement agencies in order  to improve the sex ratio by Census 2021”

Prof. Anand Kumar, Leader, Aam Aadmi Party and Professor at Jawahar Lal University talked about the vision of AAP for ensuring women’s full and equal participation in the society. He said “AAP is committed to giving more power to women by ensuring at least 30% participation to women candidates within the party. Special commando force will also be deployed to protect women from all types of violence. ”

The event was graced by Mr. Michael Steiner, HE Ambassador, German Embassy, Dr. R.P. Meena, Ministry for Health & Family Welfare, Delhi Government and senior officials from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the Ministry of Women & Child Development. Other participants included members from civil society organisations, International organisations working on women and reproductive health issues, child rights, human rights, etc., lawyers, public prosecutors, students from different schools and colleges of Delhi, members from Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs), Cooperative Societies, field level workers, supervisors, counselors, etc.

In the year 2008, CSR successfully implemented its action research project on sex selection entitled ‘Meri Shakti Meri Beti’ (MSMB) in three low sex-ratio districts of Delhi – Najafgarh, Punjabi Bagh and Narela. With the strategy to work simultaneously with the urban rich and elite and the migrant population in slum areas, CSR formed Community Watch Groups (CWGs) and Committees against Female Foeticide (CAFFs) in all the eleven districts of Delhi to check the occurrence of sex selection cases. Apart from that “Public Awareness Campaigns” were also organised at Rajiv Chowk and Kashmere Gate Metro Stations of Delhi to reach out to the masses to condemn gender based sex selection.

A rally consisting of RWA members and community men and women was conducted at Jantar Mantar in October 2013. A ‘Symposium on PC/PNDT Act – Issues and Challenges’ in collaboration with Indian Law Institute (ILI) was organized to address challenges faced in speedy and effective implementation of PC/PNDT Act with the participation of Judges, Public Prosecutors, Lawyers and police officers who deal with this Act. CSR also registered its presence at the ‘Nari Ki Chaupal’, Dilli Haat, under the banner of ‘Vaatsalya Mela’ organised annually by the National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW), Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India.

CSR was also part of the half-Marathon to draw attention of the elite masses to the issue particularly the youth, who are 60% of India’s population. In collaboration with Vishwa Yuvak Kendra (VYK), JNU, Bhaskaracharya College, SRCC, Gargi College, Kamla Nehru College and several other educational institutions, CSR organized a series of Poster & Debate competitions throughout the year to send the message against sex selection among the youth. Under the networking initiative, CSR has also networked with sixteen civil society organisations to strengthen the advocacy and lobbying effort against this mindset and attitude and force an effective implementation of the PC/PNDT Act.

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