How many more?

The girl child is still not safe in our country. Despite efforts by governments, we still fall short in protecting our women.


Photo credit: Abinkk / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

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Sanskriti Dalmia

Recently, in UP's Badaun district, a man ripped open his pregnant wife's stomach who was carrying a 7-month-old foetus to see whether it was a boy or not, as he already had five daughters.

Why do we still prefer sons over daughters? Why do we still have a bigger celebration when a boy is born? Have our mindsets actually changed? Do we still consider our daughters a liability?

So many female foetuses are still aborted, abandoned and buried alive in India. According to the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund, formerly United Nations Fund for Population Activities) State of the World Population 2020 report, India's sex ratio is worse than that of Pakistan, Nepal and Nigeria. According to a report from 2017, government data indicates that sex ratios are more imbalanced in cities than in rural areas. For every 1000 boys aged between 0-6, there are 852 girls in Mumbai and 832 girls in Delhi.

“In India, girls are not safe and poverty-stricken families are even more vulnerable. Rape, domestic violence and killings of a girl child has been normalized over the years. People innately believe that girls are to be married off and to serve the other household. They are considered to be a financial burden. Educating the girl child is not even considered necessary. This is one of the major reasons for preferring a son over a daughter,” Apurva Gupta, a student, said.

According to the UNFPA’s State of World Population 2020 report, every 50 seconds, a girl child is killed in India, and 4,60,000 girls went missing at birth between 2013-2017. This is because they were not born due to sex selection tests - which are illegal but are rampant across the nation. Even though there are national campaigns like 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' that encourages the education of the girl child, the question here is - how effectively have they been followed? According to the figures released by the Ministry of Women & Child Development (MWCD), up to 91 per cent of the scheme’s funds are spent on the advertisement of the program rather than the actual groundwork.

There are still many women who undergo illegal abortion procedures and sacrifice their own lives while undergoing the procedure. The World Health Organisation states that any woman with an unwanted pregnancy who cannot access safe abortion is at risk of resorting to unsafe procedures and women living in low-income areas are much more likely to do so. According to a report by India Today, “13 women die in India every day due to unsafe abortions and more than 80% of women do not know abortion is legal in India. This in turn contributes to women seeking terminations from backstreet providers”.

If one wasn’t aware, bride trafficking is another malpractice that has already started in Haryana. Here, brides are referred to as "paro" which means “from the far side” or "molki" which means “one who has a price”. From other states, young girls from poor families are being sold as brides to men in Haryana. This is due to the declining sex ratio of the state.

Female foeticide and crimes against women are growing threats in our society today. Harsher steps need to be taken against those who are ready to kill their girl child and those doctors who facilitate female foeticide. A Thomson Reuters Poll of 2018 called India the most unsafe country in the world. Nearly 34,000 rapes were reported in 2018 (these were reported, a majority of the cases every day go unreported). Of these, over 85 per cent led to charges, and 27 per cent to convictions, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report released by the Ministry of Home Affairs. It shows that while cases are registered, most stay inconclusive, providing no justice for long periods of time. The “Crimes in India -2019” report by NCRB shows that crimes against women have gone up by 7.3 per cent last year. The crime rate in 2019 was 62.4 per cent per lakh women, an increase from the 58.8 per cent figure of 2018.

We need to wake up and wake up strong to make our nation truly a safer place for women.

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