The recent case of infanticide in Tamil Nadu’s Usilampatti, historically notorious for its crude methods of killing female babies, sent a chill down the spine of the country.

More about the news: 

  • Even after years of awareness generation and targeted behavioral change, a couple had reportedly used the method of feeding female infants with the toxic milk of a local herb to kill their second girl child, just a month old.
  • Police arrested a young couple and the paternal grandfather of the child for having fed the 31-day-old with the toxic juice.

Current scenario: 

  • Falling sex ratio at birth: Data on sex ratio at birth (SRB) culled from the Civil Registration System, show an alarming fall over the years. From 903 girls for every 1,000 boys in 2007, it dropped to 877 in 2016.
  • States having 840 or below Sex Ratio at Birth: Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan (806), Bihar (837), Uttarakhand (825) and Tamil Nadu (840). 
  • Although infanticide has come down sex-selective abortions at scan centers is continuing to be the preferred method of abortions by parents obsessed with son preferences.
  • Unfinished task: The Centre’s ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign aimed at saving girl children has a huge unfinished task in front of it. 

Initiatives are taken to prevent sex-selective abortions:

  • Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act was enacted and amended to arm the state to wage a war against this pernicious practice. 
    • Objectives - The main purpose of enacting the act is to ban the use of sex selection techniques before or after conception and prevent the misuse of prenatal diagnostic techniques for sex-selective abortion.
    • Salient features - Offences under this act include conducting or helping in the conduct of prenatal diagnostic techniques in the unregistered units. Sex selection on a man or woman, conducting PNDT test for any purpose other than the one mentioned in the act. Sale, distribution, supply, renting, etc. of an ultrasound machine or any other equipment capable of detecting sex of the fetus.
  • Cradle Baby Scheme: It is Tamilnadu Government’s Scheme that provides for cradles at government hospitals and Primary Health Centres to receive unwanted newborns, and put them up for legal adoptions.
  • Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign 
    • Launched in 2015, the scheme is aimed at promoting gender equality and the significance of educating girls.
    • The Scheme is targeted at improving the Child Sex Ratio through multi-sectoral interventions including prevention of gender-biased sex selection and promoting girl’s education and her holistic empowerment.
    • It is a tri-ministerial effort of Ministries of Women and Child Development, Health & Family Welfare and Human Resource Development.

Way ahead

  • Ramp up awareness building exercises: It is time again for the government to ramp up awareness building exercises. 
  • Use technology to monitor: Every single pregnant woman right down to taluk levels until at least one year after birth. 
  • Change in attitude: While punitive aspects might offer a measure of deterrence, true change can only be brought about by a change in attitude. 

The need of the hour for the government is to eliminate the distortion of son preference from people’s minds as in the early year's girl child has stronger immunity than a male child in turn survival rate.

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Image Source: times Of India