Thakur Pyara Singh Dhurandhar Singh Puja Committee, Kashidih, campaigns for Beti Bachao Abhiyan. Picture by Bhola Prasad
She’s a warrior goddess and the epitome of woman power. She’s also the mother of two gifted daughters.
Drawing on this, Durga Puja pandals across Jamshedpur are crusading for the rights of girls this year.
Jamshedpur Durga Puja Kendriya Samiti — the city’s umbrella organisation of Puja committees with licences — has decided to use festive fervour to spread awareness on selective abortion of female foetuses.
The campaign Beti Bachao Abhiyan (Save the girl child) will see special posters at 290-odd pandals, informing revellers about the falling number of girl children and unequal sex ratio in the country.
Samiti members have directed Puja committees to put up posters near the idol in a way that they are clearly visible to visitors. Posters will also be displayed on trucks that will carry idols for immersion.
According to the 2011 census, India’s female-male ratio stands at 914:1000, the lowest since Independence.
In Jamshedpur, among children aged till six years, there are only 887 girls for every 1,000 boys, according to the 2011 census. The numbers reflect a disturbing plunge from 920 girls per 1,000 boys in 2001 census.
The poster drive will also warn people against the widespread yet clandestine practice of sex determination. The posters will have details of provisions of Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, better known as the PNDT Act, enforced to ban determination and disclosure of foetal sex and selective abortion.
Samiti general secretary Rambabu Singh said the idea was to infuse awareness among residents about the law banning sex determination and the danger of the diminishing girl-boy ratio in Jharkhand and India.
“We feel this poster campaign is a good and innovative way to spread the word against female foeticide. What is the point of celebrating and offering prayers to Ma Durga, the symbol of womanhood, if we can’t protect women and unborn girls? Puja samitis have responded well to our decision,” Singh added.
The Puja committees have also been asked to depute women volunteers to inform visitors about Beti Bachao Abhiyan and the PNDT Act.
“The administration has asked Puja organisers to depute significant number of women volunteers to assist devotees. We asked a few of them to be aware of our Beti Bachao Abhiyan so that they can communicate the message to pandal-hoppers,” said the samiti general secretary.