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Indian government decides to adopt girls to stop female feoticide

February 19, 2007

The headlines which greeted me today in the newspapers were:

Government to ‘cradle’ girl child

There is a report in theThe Guardian about this too.

Renuka Chowdhary, the minister of state for women and child development, estimates the number of either female foetuses aborted or newborn girls killed to be 10 million over the past two decades…A Unicef report last December said 7,000 fewer girls are born in India every day than the global average would suggest…The findings revealed a grisly underside to the economic boom in India. The imbalance in gender ratio has become sharpest in India’s richest districts, where couples can afford the ultrasound examination. Although sex determination tests of unborn babies are illegal, states display neither the political will nor the resources to enforce the law.

Yes the real problem is lack of enforcement of the law. One never hears of doctors going to jail for killing children. Or parents.

But will the government’s solution work? It is asking people to deposit their little baby girls with the government! All those who want to get rid of their girls simply have to deposit them in a cradle under a ‘cradle scheme’ of each district which has a problem with the sex ratio. According to a Times of India report:

India’s sex ratio has been recorded at an abysmal 933 females per 1000 males in the 2001 census. Northern states fare the worse, with Delhi plumbing the depth at 821. In Haryana, the sex ration is 861, while Punjab is only slightly better with a figure of 876

Ofcourse these figures actually paint a rosy picture! And the government knows it only too well. These figures are six years old! The sex ratio has plummeted further, with some districts in the north with just half the number of girls as compared to boys! Female feticide is rampant in India even after all these years and worse, Renuka Chowdhary believes that this evil practice is spreading, not decreasing because of new technologies that are able to detect the sex of the fetus very early in the pregnancy. Why, just last week, almost 400 pieces of bones of newly born female babies were found in Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh! SICK!

And whats even sicker is that parents are defiant and defensive. They do not want to pay dowry so they feel nothing is wrong in getting rid of their girls! Even affluent families are getting rid of their girls – in fact they find it easier as they have the money to scan and pay for abortions. People don’t seem to get it that the girls should live and fight for their rights. Or that the parents can always refuse to pay dowry – not every family pays dowry.

But coming back to the government cradle scheme. Can it work? There are those who feel that giving a girl to a government home is a bad thing. There are some horror stories of what can happen to orphan girls. A recent case is that of the rape of an eight year old girl in Gopalpur. There have been cases where the founders of orphanages commit rape. Some well publicised cases are of an unregistered orphanage near Visakapatnam and another one of the rape and sexual harrassment of several girls in an orphange in Mumbai. And this is just sexual harrassment. Other kinds of harrassment go on in institutions on a regular basis. For any scheme of the government to work, there has to be trust in the system. I can only pray that this scheme will save some lives.

Why doesn’t the government divert its resources to punishing those who commit these crimes? Why, just one man’s will has managed to change the sex ratio in a district in Punjab in just one year! What are also needed are mass sensitisation programmes throughout India to improve the status of women. If women are respected this will never happen. This education has to be given in schools as it is in the family system that stereotypes about women are formed.

Related Reading: Counseling and education can help change society’s regressive attittudes towards women.
One man’s enforcement of the law has saved thousands of girl babies in Punjab
What will the government do with the children in remand homes?
India’s sex ratio
Laws to stop child marraige
Why Indians prefer male children
How the media sees women

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 19, 2007 8:27 pm

    You’re right, these institutions must be forced to maintain the highest standards possible

  2. Sundar permalink
    February 20, 2007 9:17 pm

    Now if this is going to continue for long then there won’t be enough
    brides for men who wish to get married. Now this has already happened in some parts of Rajasthan . There are already some communities in Rajasthan which have started the practice of polyandry . The main reason cited was that they weren’t able to pay the bride-price . Sad isn’t it?

    As a resolution I have decided not to demand/take dowry when I get married.

  3. February 21, 2007 5:15 am

    Thats wonderful Sundar! You should refuse dowry. You will go up in the estimation of your future wife and her family.

  4. Jaspal permalink
    February 22, 2007 2:44 pm

    I don’t think the plan of government of adopting a girl child is going to work because there is a social stigma attached to it.i think in a affluent state like Punjab problem is not about cost of rearing a child but the lack of awareness and strong desire to have boy child.So better option is the enforcement of law to stop female foeticide.

  5. December 13, 2007 7:41 pm

    Some parents desert their girls in orphanages because they don’t want to spend money for dowry and some telugu TV serials also showed such stories. Running orphanages, prostitutes rescue homes and beggars rescue homes etc is a variety of money making scheme for NGOs in the name of charity.

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