The President of India, Narendra Modi, has launched a new campaign at a time when male births outnumber females at a ratio of 917:1000
.In traditional Indian culture, sons are looked upon as assets – breadwinners and caretakers of their parents in their old age. Girls are regarded as a liability because parents have to give a dowry when she marries. Studies show that since ultrasounds made sex determination possible, as many as 12 million girls may have been aborted during the past four decades in India.
In a deeply patriarchal society where daughters can be seen as a financial liability, there has been an increase in crimes including rape, trafficking and the emergence of “wife-sharing” in villages where the sex ratio is low, experts say
Goals of the Campaign.
In January, 2015, Modi launched the campaign to “Save the Daughter, Teach the Daughter” in Panipat in the northern Haryana state, a prosperous region that has the lowest number of girls to boys in the country – 879 for 1,000 males. The national average is 917 girls for 1,000 males.
The program is aimed at improving the child sex ratio and gender equality through education and will focus on 100 districts where the gender ratio is critical. Among a host of measures, it will enforce existing laws that ban female feticide and improve attendance of girls in schools.
Maneka Gandhi, Women and Child Development Minister, said the gender situation is dire in some states like Haryana. She said the situation is so bad that according to government estimates no girls have been born for many years in 70 villages. Gandhi added that in some villages there are only 500 girls for every 1,000 boys.
Female feticide takes place across economic classes and urban and rural areas, even better off and more educated women living in cities often prefer sons.
Education Before Marriage
India is also home to one-third of the 10 million child brides in the world. When girls are forced to marry at 14 years and younger, they are physically, economically and sexually bound to strangers they have never seen. They have no voice or say in the matter, no negotiating power, and no rights of refusal or choice in their sexual relations with their new husband. Is this not also the definition of rape? According to the United Nations Population Fund, more than two-thirds of married women between 15 and 49 years have been beaten and forced to provide sex. The law protecting children from sex abuse was only recently enacted in 2012 with criminal domestic violence laws only enacted in 2005.