People throughout India are shamelessly using the names of the winners at the Rio Olympics to shun female foeticide. While PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik have “earned” their right to live, and proved how women can one day make your family, household and country proud (that’s what they are saying!), without actually doing anything about it, a state in India is taking a significant step ahead to tackle this problem.
Odisha government is all set to launch Biju Kanya Ratna Scheme, an awareness programme to improve the sex ratio in the worst affected districts where the child sex ratio is extremely low.
WHAT IS BIJU KANYA RATNA SCHEME ALL ABOUT?
In India, the Child Sex Ratio is defined as the number of females per thousand males in the age group 0–6 years in a human population.
The child sex ratio in Odisha declined from 967 in the 1991 Census to 953 in the 2001 Census, and to 941 in the 2011 Census. The districts of Nayagarh, Dhenkanal, Angul and Ganjam have child sex ratios of 855, 877, 889 and 908, respectively which is alarmingly low, and hence, this move aims to raise this level and educate people about the importance to save the girl child, in these three districts.
The scheme is expected to create an arena for girls that promotes equal opportunities, eliminates discrimination, and ensures empowerment through changes in societal attitude.
It was announced in the Odisha Budget of 2016-2017 and aims to create a conducive environment for survival and development of the girl child by sensitising the community and panchayatiraj institutions.
“The steadily declining child sex ratio in India has reached emergency proportions and urgent action must be taken to alleviate this crisis”, warned a United Nations (UN) study in 2014.
According to census, the sex ratio is extremely disturbed, as for 1000 males, there are only 943 females, and the child sex ratio was calculated to be only 918 females to every 1000 males. This is the result of the rampant evil of female foeticide still existent in our society.
THE MAJOR CONCERN
“It is tragically ironic that the one who creates life is herself denied the right to be born,” said Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of UN Women said.
Why is it that a girl child is not even given the right to enter the world and is killed in the womb itself? Why do we need women to prove their worth to be allowed to exist in this world, in a stark contrast from their male counterparts? Patriarchy is so deeply engrained in the minds of people that we still need “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” campaigns justifying the need to save the girl child.
Several awareness drives and programmes have been conducted by the government, but a lack of basic education rejects the infiltration of all this information.
You are aware, and so am I, but hasn’t the social media played a tremendous role in it? Well, the people we are focusing on do not have access to these “luxuries”.
They live in a world bound by the patriarchal and misogynistic ideas of the khap panchayats, sarpanchs, who still take a woman to be at fault for everything, and teach them a lesson by beating them up and raping them. Thus, a mother kills her own child as soon as she finds out that it would be a girl, to spare her from the torture. Or she, too, is a perpetrator and not a victim.
So, Odisha is just doing what we all needed. Let’s just hope that Odisha achieves its goal and this awareness drive becomes a huge success, so much so that the whole country adopts it!
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.