Menu

Citizens for Justice and Peace

10june05

08, May 2017



Press Note

10 June 2005

 

‘Where Are Our Girls?’

 

The Citizens for Justice and Peace and WomenÂ’s Centre, Mumbai have
in a joint intervention application sought to become party respondents to
a petition filed in the Bombay High Court challenging the
constitutionality of the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and
Prevention of Misuse) Amendment Act, 2002 (14 of 2003) along with
The Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sec
Selection) Rules,  1996.  This legislation aims at checking the
killing of girl babies before birth.

 

The alarming and continuous fall in the in the birth of girl babies as can
be seen in the latest census data [2001] also points to regions that show
up this more sharply than others. The relatively prosperous states of
Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra and Gujarat unfortunately show the worst
male-female sex ratio. It is humbly stated that as per the latest census
figures. As per the latest census data, 16 states and Union Territories
with 70 districts have recorded an abnormal decline in the girl population
between 1991 and 2001. In Mumbai and Delhi, the sex ratio is far below the
national average of 927 girls to 1,000 boys. In urban India, the girl
population has dropped in 23 cities.

 

This is particularly ironic given the fact that it was in Maharashtra in
the eighties that womenÂ’s activists, social activists,writers, academics
and lawyers campaigned for such a law, under the banner of the
ForumAgainst Sex Determination and Pre-Selection [FASDP]. Maharashtra was
the first to pass a state law in 1988 followed by Punjab. The
central legislation
came into effect in 1998. Members of both the CJP and WomenÂ’s Centre were
active in the FASDP.

 

The petition filed by one Shri Vinod Soni and his wife in early 2005, is
on the grounds that as father of boys they have the fundamental right to a
balanced family and therefore choose to select and conceive a
female baby. Recent media reports however have shown that the petitioner
couple have admitted to not having much knowledge of  the petition but had
actually been asked to become petitioners by medical practioneers
interested in the continuance of practices that result in the select
elimination of girl babies.

 

The reason for both organisations to file this intervention application is
to enable this grievous data to be brought before the Bombay High Court as
also to raise the issue of accountability from the State of Maharashtra on
the issue of adequate campaigning and monitoring of these disturbing
trends. As importantly is the need to point out that this legislation at
state and national levels was brought in after rigorous campaigning from
womenÂ’s rights groups among others that recognised  huge societal and
familial pressures for son preferance that was effectively resulting in
the killing of girls before they were born. AdvocateVarsha Deshpande has
also filed a separate intervention application in the same matter.

 

In year 2000,
two health and womenÂ’s groups and individuals had filed a petition in the
Supreme Court raising issues of policy and regular and effective
monitoring of clinics who offer some of these sophisticated techniques. In
May 2001, the Supreme Court of India passed a detailed order requiring
both the Central Supervisory Boards [CSBs] under the Act to regularly
monitor the effective implentation of the Act. The CJP has been
corresponding with the relevant departments of the Maharashtra government
asking for details of this.

 

Vijay Tendulkar                       
Teesta Setalvad                    Ammu Abraham

CJP                                          CJP                                   WomenÂ’s
Centre

 

 

Backgrounder

 

Inspite of
being the South Asian Association Regional Co-operation (SAARC) ‘Decade of
the Girl ChildÂ’, the future of the girl child in India is very grim. Of
the 1.2 crore girls born in India every year, as many as 30 lakhs do not
live to celebrate their 15th birthday. The juvenile sex ratio too is
steadily worsening. In the 0-4 years group, there were 961 girls for every
1000 boys in 1981 which fell to 955 in 1991.

Ironically,
the deficit of women is more noticeable in the urban than the rural
population- a factor which is frequently attributed to male migration from
rural to urban areas. The deficit has now percolated down to the rural
areas as well, indicating an overall decrease of women in the country. The
district analysis of the child sex ratio in rural areas calculated from
the 1991 census, shows that there are only 42 districts, making up 10
percent of the country, where the sex ratio is in favour of girls. Of
these, 31 districts have a sizable tribal population. On the other hand,
there are 31 districts like two in Tamil Nadu, one in Kerala, and 11 out
of 12 districts in Punjab, where there are less than 900 girls to 1000
boys.

A 1997 UNFPA
report “India Towards Population and Development Goals”, estimates that 48
million women are missing from IndiaÂ’s population. The report states that,
“If the sex ratio of 1036 females per 1000 males observed in the state of
Kerala in 1991 had prevailed in the whole country, the number of females
would be 455 million instead of the 407 million(in the 1991 census). Thus,
there is a case of between 32 to 48 million missing females in the Indian
society as of 1991 that needs to be explained.”

 

This deficit
of women has been known to exist even in British India from the time the
first census was done in 1881and has only worsened in every subsequent
census with the exception in 1981 when it rose in favour of females.

The 1991
census is only indicative of this disturbing trend when elsewhere in the
world women outnumber men by 3 to 5 percent. There are 95 to 97 males to
100 females in Europe, USA and Japan with the ratio being as low as 88
males to 100 females in Russia primarily due to the casualties suffered in
the wars. India and China share this deficit phenomenon indicating 6 to 8
percent more men than females. Both societies have been traditionally
patrilineal and men have enjoyed a much higher status than women.

 

Almost a
quarter of IndiaÂ’s population consists of girls below 20 years of age. The
adolescent girl who is an embodiment of childhood and womanhood, is barely
a shadow in our national policy and is neglected in the fields of health,
education and development programmes. Thousands of female infants are
murdered in their motherÂ’s wombs or are born to die, the justification
being that a girl child is better dead in a society which views her as a
financial burden.

 

According to
the UNICEF, 40 to 50 million girls have gone ‘missing’ in India since
1901- missing because they were not allowed to be born, or if born,
murdered immediately thereafter. . Today, India tops the list as far as
illegal abortions and female infanticide are concerned. Of the 15 million
illegal abortions carried out the in the world in 1997, India accounted
for four million, 90% of which were intended to eliminate the girl child.

 

Dates                                                                                     
Particulars

          1986


 

Leave a Reply

Go to Top