No relief from female foeticide in Haryana

Notorious for female foeticide, Haryana ranks a poor 31 among Indian States and Union Territories on sex ratio with just 877 women per 1,000 men. Though no concrete figures are available on the exact number of female foeticide cases, an estimated 37,000 girls are killed every year in the State before they are born. The fact that Haryana, with just 2.2 per cent of the total children in India, accounts for 4 per cent of the female foeticide cases speaks volumes about the extent of problem.

Though the law prohibits sex-determination and illegal termination of pregnancy, social workers argue that the situation on the ground has not changed much over the years. “Despite all the laws, the implementation is poor. It is only in certain cases where the senior officials take keen interest in checking the menace that the situation has shown some improvement. Like in Jhajjar, the Deputy Commissioner concerned was strict on illegal sex-determination and took action against even some politically well-connected doctors engaged in the malpractice. But it is rare,” said 42-year-old Vinod Bala, the woman president of Sarvkhap Panchayat.

Ms. Bala, who has been actively involved in the fight against female foeticide, said that a girl child is still considered a burden and parents want to get rid of her before she was born. “Despite all programmes and schemes, the mind-set of society has not changed much. The rural folk consider girls to be a financial burden. With the growing number of cases of elopement and inter-caste marriages, people in the villages prefer not to have girls. In urban areas, the working couples want only one child and mostly prefer a boy.”

Ms. Bala also advocated the need for the Khaps to come out openly against female foeticide.

With the government tightening the noose over clinics engaged in sex determination, now portable ultrasound machines are being used for the purpose. The ever widening gap between the number of men and women in Haryana has also led to emergence of a trend wherein women from North Eastern States are being trafficked to the State for forced marriages and bonded labour.

“The trend of female foeticide emerged around 1995 in Haryana. Its real consequences would be visible in another decade when those born in 1990s would attain marriageable age. It is an alarming situation which would lead to disastrous results,” said Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Rakesh Gupta.