YouTube disables DIY sex-determination videos after ADF India allied lawyers intervene 

Updated on 18 May, 2022 

Three months ago, YouTube took down several videos promoting gender-biased sex-selection after ADF India allies intervened. 

Targeted towards Indian married couples, these videos offered information on how to detect the sex of the foetus. It also endorsed and facilitated the indirect sale of gender determination kits/products. 

The fact that YouTube, which is owned by Google, allowed unrestricted streaming of content on gender-biased sex selection stands in clear violation of the Supreme Court orders in the case of Sabu Mathew George v. Union of India, (2018) 3 SCC 229

These videos further enable the viewers to gain information to circumvent the legislative intent underlying the restrictions of Section 22 of the PCPNDT Act, 1994

Addressing these issues, ADF India allied lawyers worked on a written complaint with Girls Count, one of ADF India’s Vanishing Girls campaign partners, and submitted it to Ms. Vidushi Chaturvedi, Former Director, Department of Health & Family Welfare on 12 December, 2020. The same was brought to the notice of the Nodal Agency, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi via email on 6 January, 2021. Subsequently, pursuant to the above, the Nodal Agency had sought clarifications from Google’s legal team. They responded to the complaints with clarifications via email on 7 February, 2022 and a few videos were accordingly disabled access from the country domain. 

However, some of these YouTube videos still continue to circulate in contempt of the guidelines of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. Additionally, e-commerce websites such as Amazon and Dessertcart also advertise similar sex determination products, ready to be shipped in India.  

ADF India allied lawyers are working on a formal complaint to the Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare requesting to file a contempt towards the online content violations, against the Supreme Court orders in the case of Sabu Mathew George v. Union of India, (2018) 3 SCC 229, on behalf of the Ministry of State for Health and Family Welfare to ensure that the mandate of the PCPNDT Act, 1994 is scrupulously followed.   

LEGAL AID AND PREGNANCY HELPLINE 

ADF India provides free legal assistance through our panel of allied lawyers to women whose unborn girl children face in any way a hindrance to L.I.F.E (Love, Inheritance, Freedom, Equality). To know more, please visit www.adfindia.org/legal-aid.  

You may also call the pregnancy helpline at 0444 631 4300 or visit www.pregnancyhelpline.in 

SUPPORT  

We invite you to join us in our efforts to eradicate sex-selection in our lifetime and save the lives of thousands of girls who are aborted every day. To support our work, donate here

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Vanishing Girls is a campaign initiated by ADF India to raise awareness against the practice of sex-selective abortions and to advocate for effective implementation of the Pre Conception Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994. 

Humiliated, Assaulted and Prostituted for having Daughters, Mother of Two Seeks Justice and Dignity

Published on 14 April 2022

Abused, disowned, prostituted, and shamed—one can only imagine the horrors Sunita*, a 26-year-old mother in Dhanbad, Jharkhand, had to endure at the hands of her husband, Roshan*, all because she was expected to 'give' him a son!  

Sunita and Roshan got married in April 2010. After trying for a year, they had their first child, a girl, in December 2011. Instead of jubilation at the birth of the new baby, Roshan and her in-laws’ demeanor towards Sunita altered drastically overnight.  

"They asked me how I dared to deliver a girl. They wanted a boy," said Sunita. “My husband did not see any value in me anymore. He even invited his friends to sleep with me in exchange for money.” Roshan and his parents were so infuriated that Sunita failed to give them a son that they abused Sunita and her daughter for years because of this. 

Encouraged by his parents, Roshan also married another woman and now has a son with his second wife.  

Sunita gave birth to a second daughter in May 2017. This was the last straw for Roshan. He went as far as threatening Sunita to abandon the two daughters or face dire consequences. There were even plans to sell Sunita and her daughters off into sex trade. 

Sunita and her daughters

For Sunita, her daughters’ safety was the utmost priority. She had wanted to escape for a long time, but she had no support or income to rely on. Her own parents disapproved of this decision. In early 2018, with incredible resilience and bravery, Sunita mustered the courage and finally ran away from her marital home with her two young daughters. Determined to build a better life for them, she found a job as a salesperson and found a house to rent. 

Sadly, even after Sunita was separated from her husband, the harassment did not end. Roshan and his second wife found various ways to humiliate and hurt them. They edited fake obscene photographs of Sunita and her daughters and circulated these doctored images along with Sunita’s personal contact details on WhatsApp and Facebook, resulting in terrible hardship for Sunita and her young daughters. 

Desperate, Sunita reached out to ADF India allied lawyers for help. She has filed a private complaint in the Dhanbad court, and an FIR has been lodged against her husband and those involved. Our allied lawyers are working to ensure she has the protection she and her daughters so desperately need.   

“As a team, with many who themselves are parents to daughters, ADF India is standing firm with Sunita and her daughters to ensure that they receive justice”, said Adv. Rajlakshmi, ADF India allied lawyer. 

In India, women face extreme societal pressure to produce a son. Mothers bear the full brunt of the scorn and shame that arise from the birth of a girl child. Many face violence or abandonment in terrifying degrees, as seen in Sunita’s case. Many are still silent.  

The Child Sex Ratio in Jharkhand has dropped from 965 females per 1,000 males in 2001 to only 948 in 2011 as per government census. This clearly exposes daughter-aversion in the state. While the birth of a son is welcomed with distribution of sweets, fanfare and festivities, the birth of a daughter is considered a curse and attracts ridicule and even assault. 

LEGAL AID AND PREGNANCY HELPLINE 

ADF India provides free legal assistance through our panel of allied lawyers to women whose unborn girl children face in any way a hindrance to L.I.F.E (Love, Inheritance, Freedom, Equality). To know more, please visit www.adfindia.org/legal-aid.  

You may also call the pregnancy helpline at 0444 631 4300 or visit www.pregnancyhelpline.in 

SUPPORT 

We invite you to join us in defending the life, liberty and the inherent dignity of women like Sunita and her daughters. To support our work, donate here. Your financial gift today will transform a life tomorrow. 

*name has been changed to protect the privacy of individuals 

Pursuit Of Education: A Discussion On Child Marriage In India

by Adv. Anushree Bernard, ADF India Allied Lawyer

Nisha (name changed), a domestic help working in various homes in an affluent South Delhi locality works from 7 AM till 5 in the evening. At the end of a long and physically demanding workday, she returns to caring for her two daughters and an ailing husband. This was not the life Nisha had dreamt of while growing up in a small village in Bihar. She wanted to be a teacher. Much to her dismay, not only were her studies discontinued, but she was also married off at the young age of 12 to a much older man. Soon after marriage, while she was herself only a child, she became a mother.  

Sadly, Nisha's story is not unique. Census 2011 data reports that 30% of the women in India were married before the age of 18. Today, there are more than 17 million married children and adolescents in India, of which 75% are girls. 

A study by CRY1 stated that Child Marriage has been prevalent at different points in almost all societies around the globe. It is estimated that 5% of all girls in the world are married by the time they are 15 and one in every five girls in the world is married at 18 or younger. Almost 29% of the girls in South Asia aged 20-24 reported marrying before the age of 18, while 8% were married before the age of 15. The highest prevalence rate of Child Marriage reported by 20 to 24-year-olds among SAARC countries was in Bangladesh, followed by Nepal, Afghanistan and India2 

Despite such stringent legislative measures, the country has witnessed a sharp rise in the cases of Child Marriage, approximately 50%, in 2020 over the previous year3. During the Pandemic, India reported an all-time increase in the number of child marriages displaying the negative outlook towards girls across the country as a total of 785 cases were registered under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act4. The number of cases registered were the highest in Karnataka at 184, followed by Assam at 138, West Bengal at 98, Tamil Nadu at 77 and Telangana at 62. In 2019, 523 cases were registered under the Act, while in 2018, 501 cases were lodged5 6

Child marriage is also closely linked to gender discrimination that girls often experience in India right from conception. It is both a cause and outcome of the societal structure that is primarily based on son-preference.  

In India, sex-selective abortion is an established phenomenon that cuts across rural/urban, educational and socio-economic status divides. Due to the rising sex selective abortion cases across the country (that began in the 1970s with the introduction of ultrasound technology), the National Child Sex Ratio stands at 918 girls for every 1000 boys. Since 1990, approximately 15.8 million girls in India have been lost to sex-selective abortion and other forms of prenatal sex selection7

Recent studies have suggested that, if sex-selective abortions persist, an estimated 6.8 million fewer female births will be recorded across India by 20308. Academics from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia projected the sex ratio at birth in 29 Indian states and union territories, covering almost the entire population, taking into account each state’s desired sex ratio at birth and the population’s fertility rates. The cultural preference for a son was found to be highest in 17 states in the north of the country (including Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state) showing the highest deficit in female births. Researchers predict that the cumulative number of missing girl children in the state would be 2 million between 2017 and 2030. 

To counter this gender discrimination, the recent introduction of The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the Lok Sabha to amend the law and raise the minimum age of marriage of women from 18 to 21 years is welcome.  

Child Marriage has serious consequences on the social and economic development of the country, especially educational and vocational opportunities for young girls, apart from raising serious health concerns.  

The practice essentially denies girls and female adolescents educational opportunities, separates them from family and friends, compromises their ability to seek health promotion practices and timely care, and enhances their vulnerability to considerable social evils (such as rape, assault, early pregnancy, etc.) Child Marriage significantly compromises young women’s decision-making ability and empowerment. When girls are married early, their educational trajectory is hampered. Consequently, low levels of education lead to limited employment avenues for women. 

However, mere amendment to the law will not solve the problem and must be followed with stringent implementation and awareness measures so that girls like Nisha stand a fighting chance to succeed in life.  

The first, and the strongest line of defence to curbing the issue of sex-selective abortion is the education and self-reliance of the mother. It is a LIFE-saver! A UNESCO study9 discovered that women with higher levels of education, besides avoiding serious health risks such as maternal death due to early pregnancy, are more likely to delay and space out pregnancies, and to seek health care and support. While pursuing education, they can, in all probability, delay not just getting married, but seek the self-dependence and fortitude to prevent becoming victims to sex-selective abortion, especially due to familial pressure. Educated mothers would have a deeper understanding of the long-term ramifications of sex-selective abortion on the country’s sex ratio and its harmful impact on the socio-economic condition of the country. Also, with higher levels of education, they would be aware that allowing sex-selective abortion (whether with her own pregnancy or with that of someone around her) would be a heinous crime against her own gender, and the laws (like the PCPNDT Act) that have been strictly enacted by the government against the evil. 

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[1] https://www.cry.org/downloads/safety-and-protection/Status-of-Child-Marriage-In-The-Last-Decade.pdf

[2] Unicef Global Databases, 2020

[3] https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/rise-in-child-marriage-cases-in-2020-more-reporting-may-be-factor-1854311-2021-09-18

[4] Ibid [5] Ibid

[6] https://prsindia.org/billtrack/the-prohibition-of-child-marriage-amendment-bill-2021

[7] https://www.pop.org/sex-selective-abortion-in-india/

[8] Probabilistic projection of the sex ratio at birth and missing female births by State and Union Territory in India : https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0236673

[9] https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000190214

How Uttar Pradesh's Proposed Law Would Impact The Birth Of Girls

August 2021

The northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh recently announced that it would enact the Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilisation and Welfare) Bill, 2021, which is purportedly aimed at addressing the issue of overpopulation. However, such a law, if enacted, would undoubtedly have a fatal impact on baby girls in the state. 

The draft Bill proposes to bar people with over two children from contesting local body elections, applying for, and getting promotion in government jobs and availing government subsidies, including government food rations at subsidized rates. Similar laws and policies also exist in eight other Indian states namely Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Uttarakhand. 

However, far from making development accessible to all citizens of India, such coercive laws and polices can result increased sex-selective abortion and female infanticide, given the deep-rooted and overwhelming preference for male children.  

A 2020 study by Nirmala Buch, a former senior IAS officer, found that the adoption of a two-child policy by states for panchayat elections resulted in a rise in sex-selective abortions; men divorced their wives to run for local body elections and families even gave up children for adoption to avoid disqualification in the election.

Situation in Uttar Pradesh

The state of Uttar Pradesh already has very poor child sex ratios.

As per the 2011 Census, Uttar Pradesh’s sex ratio for the overall population is 902 girls for every 1000 boys. As the per the Sample Registration System Statistical Report 2017 (SRS) released by the Census office in 2019, the child sex ratio had dropped to a dismal 878 girls for every 1000 boys in the state. 

A 2020 study by academicians from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia predicted that highest deficits in female births will occur in Uttar Pradesh, with a cumulative number of missing female births of 2 million from 2017 to 2030.

The introduction of coercive measures will only increase this number exponentially.

By penalizing the birth of additional children, such population control policies will result in families taking extreme measures to ensure the birth of a son, including choosing sex-selective abortions.

This is apparent in even the suggestions received by the UP law commission, that permission be granted to have more than two children if the two children are daughters. These suggestions from the public clearly reveals the bias that exists against female children. 

A 2021 article in the Lancet, noted that “...sex-selective abortion appeared to be more pronounced for third-order births than for second-order births after an earlier daughter or daughters. Sex-selective abortion continued to be more common in richer and more educated families than in poorer and less educated families, in contrast to differences in childhood survival and health-care access. The main determinant of missing female births in second-order and third-order births was an earlier daughter or daughters.” 

The Way Forward 

Researchers have repeatedly highlighted the need to strengthen policies that advocate for gender equity to counter the rise in sex selective abortions. To overall social development and a better standard of living, especially for the women, the governments should instead focus of education, ensuring no child marriages, access to contraceptives, and opportunities for employment for men and women.  

However, for real change in the culture each of us need to ensure that we pledge to save our #VanishingGirls by giving them LIFE – Love, Inheritance, Freedom and Equality.

We invite you to join the Vanishing Girls Campaign by signing the Pledge and supporting our work to bring legal awareness to women.

Interview With Dr. Ganesh Rakh - A Doctor On A Mission To Save The Girl Child

Dr. Ganesh Rakh runs a hospital in Pune, Maharashtra with a unique mission to save as many girl children as he can. In the past decade since he launched Mulgi Vachva Abhiyan (Marathi for "campaign to save the girl child"), Dr. Rakh and his team have delivered over 2,000 baby girls without charging any medical fee.

ADF India had the honor to interview Dr. Ganesh Rakh and hear from him as part of its Vanishing Girls (VG) campaign.

VG: What is the inspiration or motivation behind what you do?

Dr. Rakh: The biggest challenge for a doctor is to inform the family of a patient’s death. I used to be equally worried when I had to tell them that a girl was born. The relatives’ faces would turn sullen, the mother would start crying, and sometimes they even refuse to pay the bills. They would be so disappointed. On the other hand, male baby births were welcomed with jubilation and distribution of sweets! This is when I decided that I would waive off the fee if a girl is born in our hospital. Like how a male birth was welcomed, we cut cake, distribute sweets and celebrate the birth of the girl.

VG: What would you say is the root cause of daughter aversion or female feticide in India?

Dr. Rakh: In the past 10 years, India has lost over 630 lakh girls because of son preference*. This is because of a combination of many things. We hear in the news of 3–4-month-old baby girls being raped. The violent incidents against women and girls have shown that India is not a safe place for them. Parents assume that from birth to marriage and even after, there is much stress and tension associated with bringing up a daughter. From the moment a girl is born, parents worry about the dowry they’d have to arrange for her marriage. After marriage, they worry that she might give birth to a daughter. It is a vicious cycle! Instead of worrying, we should come up with ways to empower her so that she can stand on her own and not be bogged down by outdated traditions.

I used to think that female feticide was a rural problem, but I learnt that it was more common in the cities amongst middle- and upper-class societies. It is sad to see a high level of sex-selective abortion taking place even in other countries wherever the India population is high. Daughter aversion is an evil mindset in Indian society that needs to be uprooted. Only then will we see effective change.

VG: Through the Vanishing Girls campaign, we often share positive stories so that we can inspire people to do the same. Can you tell us how your work has impacted the families of the baby girls who were delivered in your care?

Dr. Rakh: It is a joy for me when parents pay me a visit to tell me that their daughters are doing well and accomplishing wonderful things. They tell me that they are glad they did not go through with the abortion because now their daughters bring much comfort and joy to them.

VG: How important has your family been to your work in this journey?

Dr. Rakh: I have a young daughter, Tanisha. Every baby girl I deliver or any young girl I get to help, I view them as my own daughter. My wife, Trupti, has always supported me despite all the challenges we faced. She has stood beside me and managed the hospital superbly all these years. Without them, it would have been impossible.

VG: What is your message for other doctors?

Dr. Rakh: As long as there is a demand for sons over daughters, the industry will always find a way to meet this need. There are many people willing to pay any amount to have a son and no law will be able to end this greed unless there is a collective change in our mindset. Committing the crime of sex-selective abortion is equally evil as murder. I urge doctors to shoulder the responsibility by understanding the gravity of the problem and choosing to save the girl child if faced with such an opportunity.

VG: Has the current covid pandemic led to an increase in sex-selective abortion?

Dr. Rakh: I believe so because the medical fraternity is occupied with tackling the pandemic. The census which was supposed to be released this year is also delayed because of Covid. When the Government publishes the report, maybe in a few years’ time, we will know the real numbers.

VG: We work with various influencers and artists to raise awareness on the topic of sex-selection. Do you think their role is important to fight this battle?

Dr. Rakh: Celebrities and influencers or artists with large number of followers on social media obviously have the capacity to impact people’s thoughts and actions. It is encouraging to see many of them use their platform to do good. If they share the message of saving the life of the girl child, even if one girl is saved, that is progress. Who knows? That girl may grow up to be a Prime Minister.

VG: Doctor, thank you for giving us your time. We are inspired by your story and your work. How can people support you or donate towards your work?

Dr. Rakh: It is not only I who can do such work. If my story has inspired you even a little bit, my only request is that you do what you must do in your own field or region. If everyone can shoulder the responsibility to save the lives of our baby girls, we can win the battle against sex-selection.

As part of the Vanishing Girls campaign, ADF India regularly conducts training for ASHA workers (Accredited Social Health Activists) workers and seminars with doctors to raise awareness against the practice of sex-selective abortions and to advocate for effective implementation of the Pre-Conception Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994.

*Economic Survey 2017-18

Young Mother Disowned For Giving Birth To A Girl

Bhavna*, a young mother in Dhanbad, Jharkhand was disowned by her husband of three years in May 2020. She was abandoned for giving birth to a girl against the wishes of her husband and his family.

Bhavna with her daughter

After their marriage, Bhavna and her husband began living with his family, which included his parents, his elder brother and sister-in-law. Just two months into the marriage, Bhavna, 23 at that time, started getting harassed daily by her in-laws who demanded more dowry from her. Bhavna’s parents had already given her husband’s family 1.5 lakh rupees at the time of their marriage. She had to endure severe emotional and physical abuse in her marital home because she and her family could not meet their demands. Many times, they even forbade her from eating food or drinking water. Bhavna’s husband made no effort to protect her, instead he himself regularly inflicted abuse on her.

Bhavna’s struggles in her marital home worsened when she became pregnant. On January 25, 2020, halfway through her pregnancy, her husband and in-laws ganged up on her and beat her up. Blood poured out of her mouth as she was being attacked. She feared for her baby’s life and herself and managed to call her sister who came and rescued her. Bhavna had to be hospitalized because of the severity of the injuries she sustained from the attack. Thankfully, she did not lose the baby. Bhavna began staying with her parents after this incident. 

Bhavna gave birth to a girl on 28 May, 2020. Her parents had no means to support her daughter or the baby. Bhavna herself is uneducated and unemployed. In an effort to reconcile, Bhavna’s parents reached out to her in-laws on the phone. However, her husband refused to even come to see the baby. 

On 1 August, 2020, Bhavna’s parents took her back to her marital home with the baby. Her husband and in-laws, on finding that it was a girl, refused to accept the child as theirs. They said a girl child was of no worth to them. The in-laws also harshly informed them that they were looking for a more suitable bride for their son to marry, a bride who could bring a handsome dowry with her. They humiliated Bhavna’s family further by spewing insults at them and threw them out of the house.

This was the last straw of injustice for Bhavna. Gathering courage, she decided to fight for her daughter and herself. She filed a complaint at the Women’s Cell on 2 August, 2020. The authorities advised her husband to reconcile with his wife and take care of her and the child. However this led to no effective outcome. 

Bhavna heard of the legal aid services provided by ADF India's Vanishing Girls Campaign through a friend and reached out to us. Our allied lawyers helped her file another complaint with the Women’s Cell and a Domestic Violence petition against her husband and in-laws seeking monetary damages for what she had to undergo at their hands. An application seeking maintenance has also been filed on her behalf. 

Bhavna's case was admitted by the Court on 9 August 2021 and our allied lawyers were directed to file the notice to the husband. We hope for favorable hearing in this matter and hope that the final order will be passed in the Maintenance case by the end of March, this month.

Carrying out sex-selective abortions and demanding dowry are punishable offences under Indian law, but very often these crimes go unreported and therefore unpunished. In India, every day, 7000 girls are killed in the womb, just because they are girls. More than 20 women are killed everyday in our country due to the evil practice of dowry. These statistics reflect the low value that Indian society places on women and girls. Their right to equality is routinely violated even 70 years after the Indian Constitution came into force. There is no denying the fact that women in India have made considerable progress in the last fifty years but they continue to struggle due to social evils like son-preference and dowry. 

A research study has shown that the most immediate cause of son-preference or sex-selective abortion is the perception of daughters as economic and social liabilities due to factors like dowry costs, protection of daughter’s chastity and concern about her marriage. Mothers bear the full brunt of the scorn and shame that come from the birth of a female child. They consequently become victims of abuse, beatings, abandonment and sometimes, even murder.

“You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women.”  - Jawaharlal Nehru

ADF India is committed to cultivating a future where human dignity is affirmed for all women and girls. Through our Vanishing Girls campaign, we advocate for the right of all women and girls to be loved, to have equal rights to the family inheritance, and to have their freedoms protected and promoted.

ADF India provides free legal assistance through our panel of allied lawyers to women like Bhavna who suffer for giving birth to girls. For more details, visit www.adfindia.org/legal-aid.

*name has been changed to protect the privacy of individuals

5.5 Million Girls Missing At Birth In India In 10 years

May 14, 2021

The Lancet, a leading medical journal, recently released a report documenting the trends in missing female births in India since the 1980s.

Here are some of the key learnings from the report:

  1. The total number of missing female births in India witnessed an increase of nearly 60%, from 3·5 million in 1987–1996 to 5·5 million in 2007–2016.
  1. North Indian states such as Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, and Rajasthan had the most skewed sex ratios. However, in almost all Indian states, families who already had daughters became more male-biased.
  1. During 2012-2016, the average sex-ratio at birth witnessed a drop with each new-born in the family:
  1. Girls with older sisters are at an increased risk of adverse health and survival outcomes.
  1. Missing female births are more common in richer and more educated families than in poorer and less educated families.
  1. The most cogent explanation for missing female births is prenatal sex determination followed by selective abortion.

India has had a long history with daughter-aversion stemming from social and cultural practices that enforce rigid norms of son-preference.  

ADF India’s Vanishing Girls campaign aims to eradicate sex-selection and save the lives of thousands of girls who are aborted every day. We are advocating for the strict enforcement of the Prohibition of Sex-Selection Act. In the past year, the campaign has impacted over 1,700 persons by raising awareness on the issue through various campaign events, training workshops and social media.

We provide free legal assistance, through our panel of allied lawyers, to women who are being forced to undergo sex-selective abortions and suffer abuse for choosing to give birth to girls. For more details, visit www.adfindia.org/legal-aid.

Sign the pledge to protect the Girl Child: www.vanishinggirls.in/sign-the-pledge

Interview with Media Production expert, Sharon Angel

Vanishing Girls had the pleasure to host an interview with Sharon Angel, Founder of A North Production, Author, TV Show Host, Entrepreneur, Humanitarian, Motivational Speaker and all round Media Production expert. The interview was part of a number of events organised under our “Isn’t She Precious!” campaign.

Sharon is a dynamic, young leader and a voice for this generation. Sharon’s passion lies in bridging societal divides between people of different status, faith, caste, race, age and gender. Her goal is to give voice to those who are destitute and faced by  oppression, and help facilitate their journey toward rehabilitation, employment and leadership through her work in media and justice.

In this interview, Sharon shares her experience of what it's like to work, as a female, in the media industry. You may watch the video interview here. A transcript of the same is available below.

VG: Media production is still a new field for women, especially, in India. Did you face any challenges when you decided to choose this line of work?

Sharon: I certainly faced many challenges being a female in the media production industry in India. I started very young when I made it a career being in front of the camera — telling stories, singing songs and hosting television shows. I was probably just 10 years old. And if I had an opinion, if I had an idea, or a thought, it wasn't taken seriously because I was a girl and I was very young.

Not just my gender, but my age was also against me because everybody who was working with me had 10 to 15 years of experience. They were older and they were male. So, their ideas, their thoughts and their plans always got heard over mine. This propagated me to get some experience. I did many internships. I pulled all-nighters learning how to edit videos. I wrote scripts, I learned how to write a story, and how to tell one. I put myself through graduate school for film and cinema television. The documentary that I made in graduate school broke many stereotypes because as a young Indian girl, they did not expect me to be good. This experience gave me a level up in my career and brought a lot of respect to Indian female women around the world.

VG: In India, 7000 unborn girls are aborted every day just because they are girls. While the law needs to be strictly enforced to curb this, what do you think could be done to change the mindset of the people and the false narrative against the girl child?

Sharon: The current narrative is that the girl child is a financial burden. We need to tell stories to change this narrative. During the recent Covid-19 lockdown period, there was an inspiring story of this young girl, who carried her old father on a cycle from their village to the town, where her father worked. The father was not physically capable of doing this himself. Because of her efforts, her father was able to continue work, and the family could receive a regular income for their livelihood.

We need to tell such stories and highlight the competence and courage of women and girls. They can contribute to the growth of the family and to society. In telling such stories, we’re impacting mindsets.

VG: As a girl, how has your family been a support to you?

Sharon: I'm grateful for the support I get from my family. If I had to list out what each of them did, it would be a long list. There were times when they did not understand why I wanted to do certain things, but even in those times they gave me the space to experiment, to explore, to fight for the things that I wanted to stand up for. That space meant trust. And that space meant that they're giving me the freedom to actually pursue my dreams. And that meant a lot to me.

Even though they were not able to walk with me through every single thing, allowing me, or giving me the space to do it meant that they were still supporting me. I encourage people who don't know how to support somebody, to simply give them the space to experiment and explore the things that they want to do. Their tenacity and their courage will get them to the place where they want to go.

VG: As we celebrate the inherent worth of the girl child through the “Isn't She Precious!” campaign, what would you like to say to the girl child today?

Sharon: All my little ladies remember that you are valuable. You are talented and you are beautiful. You are so important and don't let anybody else tell you otherwise.

Remember that your talent is valuable. If you have a talent, if you have a skill and if you have a dream, pursue it because no one else will do it for you. That avenue is meant for you to accomplish and succeed.

Always be kind! Do everything in kindness. Be gracious to people, be gracious to the people of your gender and be gracious to the people of other gender. Be gracious to people who are battered and bruised and who have gone through struggles and challenges. Your kindness will place you on a higher pedestal. Keep fighting for your cause, invest in your cause, work for it, and don't let your dream die. And more importantly, remember that you are precious.

7 Things You Should Know About The Prohibition of Sex Selection Act

In India, 7000 unborn girls are aborted every day, just because they are girls! Because of this heinous practice, India ranks fourth in the list of countries with the worst Child Sex Ratio. 

In this issue we highlight seven important provisions under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 which was enacted by the Parliament of India to prohibit sex selection and arrest the declining sex ratio in India. 

  1. No laboratory or genetic counselling centre or genetic clinic is permitted to conduct any test including ultrasonography for the purpose of determining the sex of the foetus. Thus, sex-selection is prohibited both before and after conception.
  1. The use of pre-natal diagnostic techniques such as ultrasound and amniocentesis by sonographers are permitted only to detect Genetic abnormalities, Metabolic disorders, Chromosomal abnormalities, certain Congenital malformations, Haemoglobinopathies and Sex-linked disorders.
  1. It is illegal for any person, including sonographers and other healthcare professionals to communicate the sex of the foetus to the pregnant woman or her relatives by words, signs or any other method.
  1. Any person who puts out an advertisement for sex determination facilities in any form and through any media, or engages in any visible representation, can be imprisoned for up to three years and also be fined.
  1. Registration of all diagnostic laboratories, all genetic counselling centres, genetic laboratories, genetic clinics and ultrasound clinics is compulsory.
  1. The prominent display of a signboard that “detection/revelation of the sex of the foetus is illegal” is mandatory in all ultrasonography units.
  1. Failure to maintain records such as the Form F (a mandatory record containing information of a pregnant person undergoing an ultrasound, such as previous children and obstetric history) or a failure to preserve the records for a period of 2 years are punishable offences. 

What can you do to save our vanishing girls and show that you CARE?

C – Conversations: Engage on social media; host an event or organize a training.

A – Ask Questions: (i) File RTIs, download a sample RTI here. (ii) Join a campaign demanding justice for unborn girls.

R – Report Violations: Email askme@vanishinggirls.in and we will be happy to guide you.

E – Ensure Equality & Dignity for Girls: Sign the pledge; write a will equally dividing your property between your sons and daughters. 

You would be happy to know that Mrs. Tehmina Arora, Director, ADF India was nominated on October 9, 2020, as a member of the Advisory Committee for the Delhi State Appropriate Authority under the PCPNDT Act which includes medical and legal experts and eminent social workers.

Under Section 17(5) and 17(6) of the Act, the Committee was constituted by a notification of the Directorate of Family Welfare, Govt. of NCT. The Committee will aid and advise the Appropriate Authority in the discharge of its function for a tenure of three years.

The Vanishing Girls campaign is an initiative of ADF India that aims to eradicate sex-selection in our lifetime and save the lives of thousands of girls who are selectively aborted every day. We are advocating for the strict enforcement of the Prohibition of Sex-Selection Act.

True Independence for Girls in India

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) recently released the State of the World Population 2020 report which drew attention to 19 forms of human rights violation against women and girls, one of which is son-preference resulting in sex selection. According to the report, one in three girls missing globally due to gender-biased sex selection is from India — 46 million out of the total 142 million missing girls. The number of girls missing due to female foeticide reflect the deep-rooted bias against daughters and the poor status of girls in the country.

“It should be shocking but it isn't that while 5 lakh COVID-19 deaths worldwide is causing such a furore, there is not a word on 460 lakh deaths of girls in the country”.

Kamla Bhasin, Social scientist and activist 

Tomorrow, India celebrates its 74th Independence Day. We can be proud of how far we have come as a nation. The Constitution of India resolved to assure the dignity of every individual and to secure to all its citizens:  JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; and EQUALITY of status and of opportunity. We have, as a sovereign republic, delivered on several of these constitutional promises. However, even today, women and girls in India suffer the effects of son-preference, sex-selective abortion and other rigid patriarchal norms. 

The Vanishing Girls Campaign pledge to #giveherLIFE - Love, Inheritance, Freedom, and Equality is aimed at realizing true independence for girls in India. 

Love: Every girl has the right to be born into the world and be loved and cherished just as sons are. The progress of our country would not have been possible without the contribution of women and girls. From the freedom struggle movement to the current COVID-19 pandemic, India’s daughters have been at the forefront, developing and supporting the country hand-in-hand with men. Daughters are no less than sons, and they deserve equal love, care and respect.

Inheritance: The right to inheritance is imperative for the empowerment of women and girls. India’s Child Sex Ratio continues to drop because girls are seen as an economic burden. The right to inheritance is linked to the value of daughters. Recently, in a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court of India held that a daughter will have an equal share in the family property after the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005. “Daughters must be given equal rights as sons. Daughter remains a loving daughter throughout life. The daughter shall remain a coparcener throughout life, irrespective of whether her father is alive or not”, stated Justice Arun Mishra. This is an important step towards securing equal inheritance rights for women.

Freedom: A patriarchal society like ours gives most of the decision making power to men in households, in communities and even in governments. This practice in turn suppresses women and girls to stereotypical gender roles, thereby withholding their independence. They are discouraged from speaking their minds or showing leadership skills, and limited by the dangers of a crime-ridden society. In our work with the campaign, we have even seen mothers being forced to abort their daughters against their will. 

Equality: Gender bias and inequality meted out to women and girls across the country have resulted in unequal access to resources and opportunities for them. By placing nearly half the population at a disadvantage, India will only hinder its own growth. 

There is an urgent need for policy initiatives to bring gender parity in our society. More than ever, we need to stand with women and girls to guarantee their fundamental rights, as provided by the Constitution, so that they can enjoy true freedom in India.

ADF India, through its Vanishing Girls campaign, aims to eradicate sex-selective abortion in our lifetime and save the lives of thousands of girls who are killed in the womb every day. We are advocating for the strict enforcement of the Pre-Conception Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994.

On July 4, 2020, the Delhi Government’s Health and Family Welfare Department inducted Mrs. Tehmina Arora, Director, ADF India, in the Advisory Committee for District Level Appropriate Authorities under the PCPNDT Act. 

Sign the pledge to #giveherLIFE