In order to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face today, October 11 is marked as the International Day of the Girl since 2012. Addressing the country’s disgraceful record on infanticide, our PM Narendra Modi had rightly said, “Women in India should be valued more. The gender ratio in India is at its most unbalanced since 1947, with 1,000 boys for every 927 girls— far lower than the worldwide average of 1,050 females, hence families should stop aborting girl fetuses. Indian society is still largely male-dominated, and women are often looked down upon. The birth of a female child is often regarded as a disaster, and female foeticide is common in most parts of India (despite the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994). When a male child is born everyone rejoices, but when a female child is born many seem dejected and crestfallen, as if a tragedy has occurred. A home is not a home, which does not have a daughter. It is only because of our mothers that we are living in today. Inequality about girl child is a vast problem which includes many areas like inequality in education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, protection, honour and respect, child marriage and so many. India loses an average of 7,000 girls every day through abortions because of a traditional preference for sons.
In our country, the female literacy rate is still 53.87 per cent and one-third of the young girls are malnourished. No doubt, to address the girl child issues associated to their health, respect, education, and nutrition etc. the government has taken various initiatives that have resulted into the improvement in the girl child education status through the free and compulsory primary school education for both boys and girls till the age of 14. Our Constitution entitles women with equal opportunities and rights, but in some parts of the land the rate of female foeticide was high and the gender ratio terribly skewed. Girls are not being sent to school in many places and women face prejudice and discrimination at the workplace.
We Indians call our nation mother India and are great devotees of Mother Goddess in various manifestations. But is this devotion and respect for the country limited to only a few words or do we actually implement these values? No, we all are openly playing a double standard game with our country. On one hand, we say mother India while on the other hand, we are continuously destroying the valuable gift of nature, a girl child.
Latest inventions in the medical field of gender detection have allowed to increase the rate of female foeticide in India. As there are are a few mothers who desire to have an abortion if the ultrasound test detects a girl child. But wait a moment… what can you see in the ultrasound test? Ten tiny fingers, ten tiny toes, innocent face, ready to come out and feel the beauty of nature and love of mother. When you close your eyes and you will hear a sweet voice from within, ‘Mamma’. Will you still abort your unborn girl child? No, you can’t be so cruel, at least not to someone who is a part of you.
Becoming a mother is the greatest gift of God. Treasure this gift whether you have a baby boy or baby girl. Boys and girls are like the two hands of a human body. In the absence of one, the other is incomplete. This is the time to take an initiative to apply a brake on the undesirable practice of girl discrimination. Girls must enjoy the right to birth, right to freedom, and the right to education. Girls are biologically stronger than boys and must receive adequate nutrition, healthcare facilities and education. They must be given opportunities to explore themselves and prove their capabilities. As mothers, they are responsible for imparting values, cultural beliefs and manners in their children. Hence, they must be educated spiritually, emotionally and intellectually.
‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ is a key scheme that aims to address the dipping child sex ratio and empower the girl child in the country. It aims to generate awareness and improving the efficiency of delivery of welfare services meant for women. When today our modern India offers a lot of opportunities to women, this is the one side of the progressing India whereas, on the other side, if one looks at gender decline in the sex ratio, the dark side of the Indian society comes ahead. To be equal to the number of women in the society, people should be aware of saving the girl. On a large scale, the Government of India has taken some positive steps in relation to the safety of girls: Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005, Prevention of child sexual abuse, immoral trafficking (Prevention) Act, proper education, gender equality etc. The sex ratio imbalance is a serious issue and finding a solution has to start with making the girl child valuable.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)