For Many Girls In India, Violence Starts In The Womb

15 November, 2021

As we approach the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which is observed on 25th November, maybe it’s time to acknowledge that the starting point of gender-based violence is the womb itself!  

The UNFPA State of World Population Report, 2020 revealed that nearly 4.6 crore (45.8 million) females were 'missing' in Indian demography. The main causes for this, as per the Report, were pre and post-birth sex-selection practices stemming from son preference and gender inequality.   

Not only that, UNICEF key data shows that “India is the only large country in the world where more girl babies die than boy babies. The gender differential in child survival is currently 11 per cent.” This should be surprising, as far more boy babies are born every day than girl babies.  

The same UNICEF key data also reveals a disturbing fact about the mindset of the people. It reports that “52 per cent of women and 42 per cent of men believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife.”  

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on its website defines Gender-based Violence as “harmful acts directed at an individual based on their gender. It is rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power and harmful norms.”  

As we head towards the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25th November), it’s time to relook at some of these disturbingly non-surprising facts – to acknowledge that sex-selective abortion is gender-based violence by all means and definitions. In fact, for many Indian unborn girl children, despite being protected under the PCPNDT Act, 1994, sex-selective abortion or female foeticide is the first, and the final, act of violence in their short-lived lives.  

ADF India’s Vanishing Girls campaign endeavours to advocate against this heinous act of gender-based violence by providing legal advice and representation to mothers in cases where her inherent dignity and fundamental liberty (and that of her unborn girl child) are under threat. In addition, ADF India conducts legal training across the nation for mothers to know their fundamental rights and the protection the law grants her.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, speaking at International Day of the Girl Child event organised by ADF India on 11th October, expressed his full support to the campaign.  He noted, however, that just coercive measures will not put an end to this gruesome practice. He declared, “…first and foremost, we need to change the MENTALITY of the society regarding (sex-selective abortions) – not just individuals, but the society as a whole.”  He encouraged the attendees to share openly and widely about putting an end to the practice and help change the mindset of the Indian society, arguing that one should turn around the popular belief, “Do right and forget it” to “Do right and FACEBOOK it”. 

We invite you, dear reader, to observe the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25th November, sharing more about the Vanishing Girls initiative with your friends on Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp, and finally to pledge support to us by replying to this mail. 

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