The world celebrates September 24 as the ‘International girl child’ day. In India, however, this day will be celebrated on January 24.
Female infanticide and sex-selective abortion
Female infanticide (killing of girl infants) is still prevalent in some rural areas. Sometimes this is infanticide by neglect, for example families may not spend money on critical medicines or withhold care from a sick girl.
Continuing abuse of the dowry tradition has been one of the main reasons for sex-selective abortions and female infanticides in India.
The number of girls born and surviving in India is significantly less compared with the number of boys, due to the disproportionate numbers of female fetuses being aborted and baby girls deliberately neglected and left to die. Compared to the normal ratio of births, 950 girls for every 1000 boys, most states of India, especially Harayana, Mumbai and even overseas Indians, have much lower sex ratios. It can be as low as 830 girls to 1000 boys. With increasing misuse and affordability of fetus sex-determining devices, such as ultrasound scan, the rate of female foeticide is rising sharply in India. Female infanticide (killing of girl infants) is still prevalent in some rural areas. The government and activist groups seek to raise the status of girls and combat female infanticide. According to the United Nations, it is estimated that as many as 2000 girls are illegally aborted every day and approximately as many as an expected 15 million girls were not born over the last decade.
At a conference on ways to “Save the girl child,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated: “This is a national shame and we must face this challenge squarely here and now. No nation, no society, no community can hold its head high and claim to be part of the civilized world if it condones the practice of discriminating against one half of humanity represented by women.”
As Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world. And you and I should be the change to help start the change.