Child Sex Ratio Campaign- Action aid
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Action Aid is an International development organization working for the poor and vulnerable communities. Our major focus work is with women, girls, and children, Daliths, Fisher Folk and Tribals to bring them out from distressed situation by building the capacities about the rights conscious, available information within the system and outside also. In National level we are working in 24 states through 12 regional offices and in Andhra Pradesh we working in 18 District through different local organisations. While working with children and girls we are focusing their existing issue after 2001 and 2011 census data. We are successfully working in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh along with Government and received approval to design a separate girl child policy in those state. This is a collective effort from Government and ActionAid. In AP since 8 years we are working on this issue in Nalgonda and Warangal to stop female feticide and infanticide.
But after 2011 census results we felt the seriousness of the issue and our presence in other Districts can be extended. Since one year we have started working on this issue in 10 Districts and has taken up a campaign on decline in child sex ratio. The focus of the campaign is to sensitize different stakeholders and to bring in the changes in the practices, behaviors and attitudes leading to adverse sex ratio. Our understanding and plans are narrated below.
Objectives and components of the campaign:
•To sensitize the community groups to assert the rightful position of women in the society •To build the capacities and galvanize community members towards implementation of the PCPNDT Act •To identify issues for advocacy with the state government •Collaborative work with other sensitive and likeminded groups
Background of the situation
Situation in India
India was missing about 37 million women, who should have been in the population but could not be accounted for. The problem of India’s “missing girls” has been put lowest level since independence in 1947. According to the latest national head count, there are now just 914 girls for every 1000 boys under the age six, down from ratio of 927 for every 1000 a decade ago.
The global average is 1050 girls for every 1000 boys. Despite India’s steady economic rise in past 10 years, the figures show the social bias against having girls remains as strong as ever, with illegal sex-selective abortions facilitated by cheap ultra sound technology.. As many as half million female fetuses are estimated to be aborted each year. Girls are often viewed as a burden to the family as they require hefty dowries to be married off. Situation in ANDHRA PRADESH:
In Andhra Pradesh itself the child sex ratio fir children between 0-6 years has been drastically declining in the last 10 years. In 2001, there were 961 girls while it has come to 943 in 2011. In some districts of AP, the child sex ratio is very low, up to 850 which are very much lower than the national ratio (914 girls for 1000 boys). The urban phenomenon is not very different from the rural structure. The current census shows the ratio declined from 906 girls in 2001 and 902 girls in 2011. In urban areas 0-6 year girls were 960 girls in 2001 and it is 946.
The deplorable scenario is the result of increasing violence, feticide, infanticide, trafficking of poor women, forced polyandry and advanced technology available for wide spread use of sex determination (SD), sex pre-selection (SP) tests and sex selective abortions. Hyderabad being the state capital where the situation should supposedly be reporting better figures, the CSR fell from 943 to 938 girls. With the technology making inroads into rural areas, the CSR has dropped in all Telangana districts, Ananthapur, and Kadapa among others. The CSR in Warangal fell from 955 girls to 912 in 2011, the lowest in the state Forces that are supporting for low child Sex Ratio:
Patriarchy and prejudice: The social system of patriarchy, with males as the primary authority figures, is central to the organisation of much of Indian society. Patriarchy manifests itself in social, religious, legal, political and economic organisation of society. It continues to strongly influence Indian society, despite the Constitution’s attempt to bring about an egalitarian social order. Ethical blindness: The declining sex ratio cannot be simply viewed as a medical or legal issue. It is embedded within the social construction of patriarchy and is reinforced by tradition, culture and religion. Female foeticide and infanticide are just the tip of the iceberg; there is a whole set of subtle and blatant discriminatory practices against girls and women under various pretexts.
It is this large base of discrimination against women that supports the declining sex ratio. Sex selection and technology: Medical technology (like amniocentesis and ultrasonography), employed in the prenatal period to diagnose genetic abnormalities, are being misused in India for detecting the sex of the unborn child and subsequently for sex-selection. Female foetuses, thus identified, are aborted. Sex selection and statutes: Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act came in 1994 to reduce the sex selections in the county. However, this statute was not effectively implemented, leading to further skewing of the sex ratios as recorded in the 2001 census.
Social and financial pressures for smaller families intensified the misuse of such technologies to ensure the birth of sons. Such misuse cut across barriers of caste, class, religion and geography. The Act was amended in 2003, to include the more recent pre-conception sex selection techniques within its ambit, with the aim of tightening regulation to provide more teeth to the law to prevent the practice. It mandated the regulation of sale of technology, the registration of diagnostic centres, the monitoring of medical personnel, procedures and protocols. It has procedures for complaints and appeals and regulation by local authorities. And yet, the problems of implementation are ubiquitous. Violations go unpunished with very few cases being booked and a zero conviction rate. The collusion between people, the medical fraternity and the administration has resulted in the worsening of the sex ratio and failure of the Act to make a difference.