Son preference and discrimination against the girl child is almost universal in India and manifests it in many ways. The most shocking, however is pre-natal sex determination followed by pre-birth elimination of female fetuses. The 2011 census highlighted that more and more districts in our country are witnessing this phenomenon. A close look at the census figures reveals that girls are eliminated in some of the most progressive states and districts of the country. Unfortunately, other states are also joining this unhealthy race.
The declining trend in sex ratio at birth since last two decades is particularly worrisome, as it points to the increased incidence of sex selection practices. It also reflects patriarchal mindset of the community and gender bias prevalent in the society. It is disheartening to note that sex selection practices are more prevalent in socio economic developed class of the society and has a direct relation with availability and access to ultra sonography screening facilities.
The government is committed to implement PC-PNDT Act more strictly and at the same time is making sincere efforts to change "Sons as an Asset & Girls as Liability" mind set of the people through continued community mobilization interventions. The government has also declared various welfare schemes for the girls including "Ladli Laxmi Yojana" to portray positive image and improved status of girls in the society. The government has also taken proactive steps and declared a prize scheme on informing about sex selection practices.
Sex selection is a multi dimensional issue and therefore sustained actions need to be taken at policy, implementation, demand and supply side.
In our society, many factors like roles and responsibilities, behavior, qualities, job opportunities are different for men and women. There are no biological factors, which determine so-called feminine qualities or masculine qualities. Women as a species are not less intelligent or unable to learn than men that they are given less opportunity for education.
The attitude of the society towards girl children is that of a “Paraya Dhan” or someone else’s property. So no one encourages her dreams and aspirations as she is always considered as a liability whereas a boy is considered as an asset. Since girls are considered to be a liability by the family, she gets lesser share of everything as compared to the boys. Similarly, girl child is taken to the doctor at later stages of illness whereas male child gets more attention and health care during illness, girls and women generally seek home and traditional remedies for ailments. The household property is not given to women not because of any biological reason, but only because the society never wanted women to control any resources. Thus gender is a social construct and women have lesser access to productive resources, assets, decision-making and mobility.
This differentiation is actually because of the Asset- Liability concept between boys and girls. While men and women are equal in all aspects the society has created such discriminations only to favor men. Society has given a lot of freedom to men and tries to limit the freedom given to women in many ways. Such contradictions can be seen in all aspects. Women are worshipped for their ability to bear children at the same time the rights to bear children or not to bear children is not vested on her. Society wants the women to be submissive, obedient and faithful to her husband even if he is violent, unfaithful and irresponsible. Stories and religious teachings endorse these teachings. If we analyze each of these discriminations, it can be clearly seen that these are carefully created by the society to give an inferior position to women and to keep her under the control of men.
Thus, the differentiation and the asset-liability concept have lead to unequal power relations between men and women, resulting in a subordinate status for women making them more vulnerable. All forms of violence against women and sex selection are a manifestation of the inequality. Such forms of violence are further used to reinforce norms and maintain inequality.
With a view to address issues related to patriarchy, son preference and status of girls in the society, “Bitiya” a NGO has been registered.