Female infanticide: shortcomings in government interventions need to be addressed

The recent arrest of a grandmother in connection with the murder of a seven-day-old female infant- the third girl child of a couple- at K. Parapatti village in Usilampatti block, has brought to focus the shortcomings in the government interventions in addressing female infanticide.

While the district police have arrested the grandmother, the parents are currently being interrogated. Their eldest daughter, who is aged seven is affected by polio, and the second daughter is aged two.

This incident has occurred in Usilampatti which was once notorious for female infanticide.

Tamil Nadu government introduced the ‘Cradle Baby Scheme’ in 1992 as a measure to eradicate female infanticide. Under the scheme, cradles are present at government hospitals, primary health centres, and child care institutions to receive children who are unwanted by their parents so that they can be put through the legal adoption process.

A senior official from the Social Welfare Department said that two children were received through the cradle baby scheme in the district in 2020 and were handed over to the special adoption agencies.

Although the scheme has been in place for many years, there is a lack of awareness among the public to give up their children for adoption through the scheme, says Child Welfare Committee (CWC) Chairperson V. M. Vijayasaravanan. “There are still many cases where female infants are left abandoned near temples, buses and other public places. So, the government must have additional cradles at temples and have more banners to sensitise the public about the scheme,” he says.

CWC member B. Pandiaraja says that a total of 27 infants were surrendered to the CWC last year. “Every time a child is surrendered to the CWC, a deed is signed with the parents, whereby the parents can take back the child within 60 days. If the parents surrender their child to CWC, anonymity will be maintained throughout the entire process,” he adds.

There is a need to review the functioning of block and village-level child protection committees, which are supposed to monitor and report issues of child protection, says a senior official from the district administration. “It must be ensured that they sensitise the public against female infanticide in a full fledged manner, and not just for name sake,” adds the official.

Mr. Vijayasaravanan says that while officials create awareness among the block-level authorities, the message often does not reach the public, which needs to be addressed.

The main way to tackle the issue of female infanticide is to address the root cause of the problem - the patriarchal mindset, says Jim Jesudoss, Director, Childline Madurai. “The government often focuses on addressing the issue of female infanticide without focusing on trying to change the patriarchal mindset. Right from the school curriculum to government schemes, the government must sensitise the public about gender equity. People must be sensitised to create a change in the attitude that girls are not a burden,” he adds.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 9:57:18 PM |

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