It is a parody that a nation that aspires to be a world power has no social respect for its women. Various social, economic and demographic indicators provide evidence of a gender bias as well as discrimination against women and girl children. A country where a woman is identified as 'Shakti' ,where Durga, Laxmi, Saraswati, Kali and many more such female deities are venerated as the highest form of God and sometimes even greater than Brahma , Vishnu and Mahesh actually has no place for a girl child.
A century old Indian history shows that in the matter of sheer numbers, the female ratio in total population had always remained unfavourable. In this regard, the number of girls per 1,000 boys in the 0-6 age band, or the child sex ratio as it is called, has dipped to its lowest levels since Independence to 914.
In 27 states and Union Territories, including Delhi, the child sex ratio has declined. The figure has dropped to 866 in Delhi and 899 in Uttar Pradesh. Haryana and Punjab remain at the bottom with child sex ratios of 830 and 846 respectively. In Rajasthan, the figure has sunk from 909 in 2001 to 883 in 2011, thanks mainly to growing no. of sex-determination clinics in the face of lax laws. Despite prolonged campaign by the People's Union for Civil Liberties against sex-determination tests, the authorities have not been able to take the guilty clinics and doctors to task.
In India, this brutal discrimination has become worse due the enduring dowry system: poor families go bankrupt trying to raise the cash or goods needed to get a daughter married. According to them “a boy is a better bet on the future”. Female foetuses are aborted by amniocentesis and ultrasound exams (although the practice is illegal) and if they are alive, they are kept malnourished and less likely to be taken to a doctor when sick.
This issue of the survival of the girl child is really a critical one, and needs systematic effort in mobilizing the community. Actually too many legislations and Acts are not needed, what is needed is to change social behaviours. We know that even the most educated, well paid women are unable to contribute to their parent’s well being. As a result parents consider them only as an economic burden. If some changes in such socio-economic and cultural fundamentals can be improvised then male preference can be reduced considerably. Similarly, there is a need to minimize the age gap between bride and grooms at the time of marriage. This would reduce the widowhood period among women and the motivation to produce sons will be lower.Several other measures can also be taken.
Now the time has come that the state needs to facilitate a change in fundamentals, directing programmes in the spirit that “the woman brings human life up so we all should bring her up”. No other new laws are required. What is required is to actively enforce the older ones.
If we wish to march shoulder to shoulder with the world's top economies and believe in giving equal rights to each one then we must address this problem very seriously and actively.
[source of data used: India Today]