Jharkhand’s preference for blue booties — sons or ghar ka chirag — has led to a dangerous slide in the number of girls, Census 2011 says.
The daylong meet on Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (1994) at Tribal Research Institute (TRI), Morabadi, hosted by state women’s commission and Unicef on Friday, did not just present numbers, it also sounded an alarm to society.
According to Census 2001, there were 965 girls for every 1,000 boys. Ten years later, the number of girls has slid to 943 for every 1,000 boys — a clear signal of how the state government’s initiative to curb female foeticide has failed as sex determination and selective abortion continues in violation of the PCPNDT Act.
The skewed sex ratio underlines the growing prejudice against daughters as technology teams up with tradition to systematically get rid of unwanted female foetuses.
According to Census 2011, industrial belt Bokaro has reported the lowest boy-girl sex ratio — 1000:912 — among children up to six years of age. ), Ranchi district has 937 girls for 1,000 boys. Jamtara, with 948 girls for every 1,000 boys, is the district to report the healthiest sex ratio in Jharkhand.
Across the world, more girls than boys are born. The ‘weaker sex’ is also a myth — newborn girls are genetically hardier and more disease-resistant compared to boys.
Chairperson of state women’s commission Hemlata S. Mohan said the very aim of the meet was to generate awareness on the PCPNDT Act.
“We need to penetrate every social strata,” said Mohan. “Our women power network aims to target villages. We plan to engage sahiyas, child development project officers and panchayat members to fight female foeticide. We have sought data on implementation of PCPNDT Act, the list of unregistered clinics and names of advisory boards and monitoring cell. Accountability must be clear,” she added.
Social welfare, women and child development department principal secretary Mridula Sinha stressed on “strict vigil”. “There is need to identify and penalise those who kill female foetuses,” she said.
Debjani Khan, project manager of Plan India, spoke on the demarcation of duties.
“It is against the PCPNDT Act to determine sex in ultrasound clinics. At the districts, the civil surgeon is the authority to monitor the ultrasound clinics, raid them and take action against offenders. NGO are not supposed to inform police if they find any violation but give a written complaint to the civil surgeon,” she said.
Job Zachariah, chief of Unicef (Jharkhand), put the problem in perspective. “Social attitude to women must change.Acts to protect women should be strictly enforced. Third and final, stakeholders such as doctors, NGOs, police, judiciary and the media must work together,” he said.