"We want to put up a crèche in every district"

  • One crore foetuses killed in last two decades
  • Activists say proposal is "absurd"

    NEW DELHI: The Government has planned to open centres where people can abandon unwanted daughters in a bid to tackle the abortion of female foetuses and infanticide, a report said on Sunday.

    "We want to put a cradle [crèche] in every district. What we are saying to the people is: have your children, don't kill them," said Renuka Chowdhury, Minister for Women and Child Development.

    Ms. Chowdhury said through the cradle scheme, the Government would at least ensure that the gene pool is maintained. She said the Government was treating the drop in sex ratio as an issue of national emergency and quoted the shocking figure of one crore, as the number of girls who have been killed as foetuses in the country in the last two decades.

    The sex ratio has been recorded at as low as 933 females per 1,000 males in the 2001 census.

    Northern states fare the worst, with Delhi having the lowest sex ratio at 821. In Haryana, the sex ratio has been recorded at 861, while Punjab is slightly better with 876.

    "It's alarming that even liberal states like those in the northeast have taken to disposing of girls," Ms. Chowdhury said.

    "It is a matter of shame for us that India with a growth of nine per cent still kills its daughters."

    She said her ministry was also planning to declare one day in the year as "national daughter's day."

    India has 927 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of six, as opposed to the worldwide average of 1,050 girls.

    But activists said the government proposal was "absurd." According to them, it would send the wrong message and fail to arrest abortions.

    "Most of the girls are killed before birth, not after birth. So, where is the option of abandoning girls if they are not born at all?" said Sabu George, who has researched female foeticide for two decades.

    Mr. George said some girls abandoned under a similar scheme in Tamil Nadu in the 1990s died at poorly staffed and supplied government hospitals. PTI