NRHM director Aradhana Patnaik addresses the workshop in Ranchi on Tuesday. Telegraph picture
It may or may not be the Satyameva Jayate effect, but it appears that Aamir Khan’s TV show on female foeticide set alarm bells ringing outside Rajasthan too.
There are 874 females for every 1,000 males in Dhanbad. Just compare it with Simdega’s figures — 1,004 females per 1,000 males — to see the stark difference.
The worrying gender imbalance in population came to the fore at a symposium in the capital on Tuesday.
Organised by Plan India with technical support from the state health department, it focussed on ways to educate society to stop female foeticide or sex-selective abortions.
What came out of the meet was that the woman in the hinterland must be empowered with education if she is to muster the courage to raise her voice against her family if they compel her to go for sex determination, which is illegal in India.
In many educated homes, female foeticide occurs when family members team up with obliging nursing homes, while the pregnant woman is a mute witness to the crime.
Empowerment of women was the only long-term solution. Otherwise, the wide-spread killing of unborn girls will continue, said Aradhana Patnaik, state project director of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).
“A boy wants a girlfriend, wife and a mother. But no one is bothered about saving the girl child. Until and unless you protect the girl child, you will neither have a girlfriend, nor a wife and nor a mother. So take a pledge to stop female foeticide and protect the girl child,” Patnaik appealed to the gathering.
She added that across Jharkhand there were 540 registered ultrasound clinics under the Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act.
“We are carrying out inspection across districts and lodging FIRs against unregistered clinics. We lodged seven cases under the PNDT Act against those who are running unregistered clinics,” she said, adding that very few people were aware that all ultrasound clinics should be registered under the Act.
The statistical anomalies in sex ratios across many of the districts have jolted the state health department, Patnaik said.
Officials are on their toes, Patnaik said, forming various state and district committees as well as conducting workshops to stop the growing menace.
Supervisory, advisory inspection and monitoring committees, among others, had specific tasks to perform. “Each panel has different role to play in order to tackle this menace,” Patnaik said.
How can change happen at the individual level?
“Through sensitivity and awareness,” Patnaik said.
The inaugural episode of Satyameva Jayate had triggered a nationwide debate on the subject of female foeticide.