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Pratibha for movement against dowry

President Pratibha Patil on Wednesday urged women to stand up against inhuman, backward and retrogressive practices such as male-child preference, female foeticide and dowry. She called for a movement to protect the girl-child and trees to ensure social as well as ecological equilibrium.

Addressing the ‘National Conference on Women Empowerment and Save the Girl Child' organised by Harsimrat Kaur Badal, MP and chairperson of the Nanhi Chhaan Punjab Public Charitable Trust, Ms. Patil recalled the sacrifices made by women during the Independence movement.

Freedom was not achieved to carry out atrocities against such a large section of society. She emphasised the need for a movement to create necessary awareness against the “inhuman curse” of dowry, which according to her was the main reason for the prevalence of social scourges like female foeticide.

The President also underscored the need to look into the conditions that led to the shrinking of parental love towards the girl child and denying women their deserved space in society. She said women were at the receiving end of social evils despite religious teachings and norms laid down by scriptures.

“[Only] When fathers of the bride and groom participate in the marriage ceremony of their children with their heads held up would we witness the first signatures of the change in the mindset towards a society based on equality,” Ms. Patil said, underlining the need for a set-up where the status and honour of women was elevated.

Ms. Patil regretted that female foeticide was a major slur on Punjab, which otherwise was known for its vivacious people, who through hard work and bravery displayed their capacity to overcome any difficulty. She also lauded the farmers of the State for contributing to ensure food sovereignty of the nation. She lauded the efforts put in by Ms. Harsimrat Kaur, who is the daughter-in-law of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, to promote planting of trees and protecting the girl child through “Nanhi Chhaan” since 2008.

Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil said that widespread female foeticide had resulted in drastic imbalance in the sex ratio. He called upon educational institutions, NGOs, religious leaders and community leaders to play an effective role in inculcating positive value system among youth and containing social evils.

Describing the conference as a global milestone in promoting the “Nanhi Chhaan” programme, Mr. Badal announced the setting up of legal counselling centres at the district headquarters to help women in distress. A dedicated helpline would also be set up in every district to assist women. He said the government would provide a cycle to every girl student in class 9th and 10th in the government as well as aided schools.

Mr. Badal said that the Punjab government, especially the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal was committed to ensuring “satkar attey adhikar” (honour and empowerment) for women. The party supported reservation for women in legislature and Parliament, while the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), was among the pioneers to have implemented 33 per cent reservation. He said that through sustained efforts, the sex ratio in the State had improved from 796 women to 1,000 men in 2001 to 841 in 2009.

Earlier, the President paid obeisance at the holiest Sikh shrine, the Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple) and homage to martyrs at the Jallianwala Bagh. The tone of the conference was set by an impressive performance by folk singer Gurdas Mann. A minor flutter was created when a woman security personnel collapsed while the President was delivering her address.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 8:58:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Pratibha-for-movement-against-dowry/article15770961.ece

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