NEW DELHI – Every year, on 24 January, India celebrates its National Girl Child Day, focusing on female oppression and abuses, including sex-selective abortion, malnutrition, and domestic violence. In honour of the National Girl Child Day, ADF India has organized a week-long campaign called the Girl Child Week to address the problematic situation of women in the country. The Girl Child Week especially raises awareness of the illegal but widely accepted practice of sex-selective abortions.
“In our country, 50,000 babies are aborted every month for one reason: they are girls instead of boys,” said Tehmina Arora, a representative of ADF India.
“India’s skewed sex ratio shows that, as a nation, we have failed girls. They are either aborted or, once born, subject to various forms of violence. It’s time to address this issue, especially on the National Girl Child Day. Whoever believes that women share the same rights as men cannot turn a blind eye to what is happening in India today.”
Honour and protect women
In the course of the campaign, ADF India volunteers and other likeminded organizations have informed passersby in shopping malls and on the street about sex-selective abortion in their region and asked them to sign a pledge to honour and protect women.
Chief Minister of Delhi, Shri Arvind Kejriwal, inaugurated the campaign and was one of the first prominent people to sign this pledge to protect women. In his speech, the Chief Minister used powerful and challenging words to stress the importance of the Girl Child Week: “Only men and women working together, shoulder to shoulder can lead India into a future where each person is able to reach their highest potential. Yet, in spite of this, today we are killing our unborn girls in their mother's womb. The law restricts sex determination during the pregnancy of a woman and the Government of Delhi is committed to protect the life of the unborn girl child.”
Boys are seen as superior
In the state of Delhi, the situation regarding sex-selective abortion is better than in other region. Numbers indicate that some modest progress has been made. While in the year 2012, there were only 886 females born for every 1,000 males, in 2016 the ratio improved with 902 girls being born for every 1,000 boys. However, in other parts of India, this positive trend is reversed: more girls are aborted because of their sex than ever before.
“It is our hope that through this week’s awareness-raising programmes, we will be able to shine a light on the root of the problem. Girls are vanishing because of a widely prevalent notion that boys are superior,” Arora explained.
“We can help bring an end to the terrible practice of sex-selective abortion, and we can improve the way women and girls are treated in our homes and families.”
In 2009, the Indian government declared January 24 as the National Girl Child Day, coinciding with the date of swearing in of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. She was the first woman to occupy the most powerful post in the country.
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