The fact that girls are being murdered quietly after sex determination tests, what can one say of rights of girl child in India? As per UNICEF guidelines the girl child must get equal opportunities to education, medicine, healthcare facilities and workplace.
Although the democratic constitution and laws state there have to be equal and full opportunities, the girl child, if she survives barley gets to see her 15th birthday. Out of the 15 million baby girls born in the country, every year nearly 25% of them do not reach their 15th birthday.
India has been one of the first countries to introduce family planning in 1952. The tragedy lies in the misconception that a male heir is all that is needed. But how many people realise that to have the male heir, a woman is needed to reproduce. Biologically she is the carrier of the child.
In many homes across the country, girls are treated with indifference. Daughters are considered as liabilities. Outside one sex determination clinic in Haryana, it was written, pay Rs. 50 now rather than pay Rs. 50, 000 later (as dowry).
Women have no power themselves even though they have legal recourse. It takes guts for a woman to stand up against her husband, in-laws or parents if she meets with dowry problems or sexual violence. Child marriages restrict the girls and their rights.
There is malnutrition, poverty, high illiteracy and infant mortality ailing the society today in India. Only 40-50 percent women get antenatal care. In Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharastra, Orrisa and Gujarat the registration for health services for mother and child are low (5-22% in rural) and (21-51% in urban) areas.
A pregnant woman is dependent on the mother-in-law and husband for any treatment that she needs. Atrocities against women has risen. Every 26 minutes a woman is molested. Every 34 minutes a rape takes place. Every 42 minutes a sexual harassment incident occurs. Every 43 minutes a woman is kidnapped. And every 93 minutes a woman is burnt to death over dowry. One-quarter of the reported rapes involve girls under the age of 16 but they are never reported.
The government’s initiative of saving the girl child has started with a ‘palna’ (rocking cradle). It is not a rocking scheme. The NGOs and other agencies working to save the girls from becoming victims of infanticide feel this could be a way that parents who give birth to the girl and leave it in the government’s care! The scheme has sent wrong signals to poor parents! In Tamil Nadu where the scheme started off has not been so successful.
Girl child education in India : The constitution guarantees free primary school education for boys and girls up to 14 years of age. But till today, only 39% of girls and 64% of boys get education in Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. If women teachers were increased chances are that girls in rural areas would continue to study. As girls get enlightened, they will raise better families.