(excerpt from "The Hindu")
Time for strong action to save the girl child'
|Women's groups in Rajasthan sound alarm over declining s*x ratio|
A MATTER OF ALARM: Women activists addressing a press conference in Jaipur on Tuesday over decline in the s*x ratio in Rajasthan revealed by Census 2011.
JAIPUR: Civil rights and women's groups here on Tuesday demanded formulation of a “Vision 2021 Policy Document” on the mission to save the girl child in Rajasthan in the wake of the provisional 2011 Census data depicting a sharp decline in the s*x ratio among children in the 0-6 age group by 26 points in the State.
Women activists addressing a press conference said the State Government did not seem serious about addressing the issue and was not making any effort to stop ultrasound machines from being used for s*x determination tests. At the same time, violence against women is on the increase and only two per cent of the victims of domestic violence reach the police.
Activists called for appointment of a State-level monitoring committee which should develop indicators to review the programmes for saving the girl child. Mamta Jeitley of Vividha said the committee could be assisted by advisers selected from a cross-section of society.
Expressing serious concern over the State Government's failure to enforce the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, activists said there was a “direct correlation” between the number of registered ultrasound centres and the decrease in gender ratio in each district, as revealed in the Census figures.
“There are 1,651 private ultrasound centres registered in the State and 122 machines installed in government hospitals. About 1,000 of the private centres are involved in s*x determination tests,” pointed out Kavita Srivastava of People's Union for Civil Liberties. The profit of these centres runs into crore of rupees, she added.
Virendra Vidrohi of Mewat Shiksha Evum Vikas Sansthan alleged that the Medical and Health Department was shielding the offenders instead of taking legal action against them. “Half-a-dozen ultrasound centres are conducting illegal tests in Health Minister A. A. Khan's constituency (Tijara) despite a number of complaints made to him,” he said.
The Census figures have revealed that the s*x ratio of 909 girls in 2001 has slipped to 883 in 2011. The ratio has also depicted a downward curve since 1981 and only nine districts in the State have the ratio of 900 this year as against 23 districts in 2001 Census.
Women activists regretted that no mechanism had been evolved in the State to ensure effective implementation of the PC-PNDT Act, while women's empowerment remains a “distant dream”. “Saving the birth of a girl child is a big challenge in this environment,” said Ms. Srivastava.
Demanding vigorous action to check further decline in the child s*x ratio, activists said the Chief Minister should urgently call a meeting with NGOs and key stakeholders to develop the Vision 2021 policy document and fix responsibility of all officials to regulate medical malpractices.
Tara Ahluwalia of Baal Evum Mahila Chetana Samiti took strong exception to an amnesty scheme announced last year for regularising the ultrasound centres functioning without registration: “A centre without authorisation has to be closed with action against its owners. How can the Government offer amnesty to it?”