Women Empowerment through Legal Literacy

By Jemi Thomas

43-year-old Babita did not have an easy life. She was rejected by her own father from birth because she was born a girl and not a son as he had always prayed for! She was married off at the young age of 14. Through all this, her mother remained her strength. She fought for Babita’s education and made sure she went to primary school at least.

Babita worked as a seamstress initially but her passion to serve the women in her community made her join the ASHA initiative (Accredited Social Health Activist). She has been an ASHA for over 13 years. She loves her job as it involves ensuring that pregnant women in her region get the right medical assistance and those little girls are born into this world.

At the training organised as part of ADF India’s Vanishing Girls Campaign in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, Babita was delighted to learn more about the PCPNDT Act (Prohibition of Sex Selection), saying this was the first time that someone had made things simple enough for her to understand! She was thankful to receive insights into the root causes of discrimination against the girl child and pledged her efforts to save the girl child.

In India, there are laws that ensure girls are born, prohibiting sex selection, before and after conception. Laws that prevent the misuse of technology, regulating the use of pre-natal diagnostic techniques like ultrasound and amniocentesis. Any violation of these laws is a criminal offence with severe implications. There are, also, schemes that reward those who report violations of these laws.

Despite the presence of such stringent rules, India fails to curb the practise of female foeticide and suffers from a declining child sex ratio. Reuters reports that in India, 7000 fewer girls are born each day, largely because of sex-selective abortion.

One of the root causes of this problem is the lack of legal awareness. Legal awareness on female foeticide and related issues is crucial for preventing this harmful practice, protecting baby girls, and also for empowering women in India.

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A Legal Training in progress in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan

Here are few reasons why legal trainings are a MUST to empower women:

1. Understanding their Rights: Legal training can help women understand their legal rights and the protections afforded to them under the law. This can be especially important in areas such as family law, where women may face issues such as domestic violence due to birth of a girl child.

2. Navigating the Legal System: Legal training can help women navigate the complex legal system, including understanding court procedures, filing FIRs, and presenting a case in court. As a national network of lawyers, we come alongside vulnerable communities, providing pro bono legal services.

3. Advocating for Change: Legal training can also help women become advocates for change promoting inherent worth of the girl child, such as working to change laws and policies that negatively affect girls and women. This can include issues such as inheritance rights, gender-based violence, and equal pay.

4. Increasing Access to Justice: Legal training can help women increase their access to justice by providing them with the skills and knowledge necessary to seek legal remedies for violations of their rights. This can be especially important for women who may face barriers to accessing the legal system, such as discrimination or lack of resources.

A legally empowered women stands as a beacon of LIFE (love, inheritance, freedom, and equality), for the generations of women who have suffered discrimination and for the many baby girls yet to be born.

Over the years, as part of ADF India’s Vanishing Girls Campaign, we have trained public prosecutors, state nodal officers, doctors, ASHA workers, civil society organisations, women, and the community. We have organised programs in collaboration with State PCPNDT Departments in States and regions with skewed child sex ratio.

The training focuses on understanding the reasons why our little girls are vanishing, laws that address each of the challenges present in the society, and what are the resources available for change. To collaborate with us to organise legal trainings in your region, contact us at askme@vanishinggirls.in

Challenging Son Preference: Success Stories and Persistent Challenges in Asia 

By Elina Yohannan 

Son preference remains a persistent and deeply rooted issue in many Asian countries, with serious consequences for women and girls. Although the global sex ratio at birth is around 105 males for every 100 females, several Asian countries have failed to maintain this ratio due to cultural and economic factors.  


In India, the birth of a son is often met with much celebration and excitement, with cries of "Beta hua hai!" (It's a boy!), while a daughter's birth, in many homes, is not always met with the same enthusiasm. This preference for sons is deeply rooted in rigid patriarchal norms and is influenced by various factors. Sons are seen as the ones who will carry on the family lineage, provide financial and emotional support for their parents in old age, and take on major family and religious roles, while daughters are considered weak and in need of protection, and are often viewed as paraaya dhan (someone else's property after marriage). Moreover, the issue of dowry, which has been banned in India since 1961, is still practiced in the form of giving "gifts." 

This preference for sons has resulted in the rise of sex-selective abortions and female infanticide in the country. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, sex-selective abortions in India have contributed to at least nine million female births “missing” between 2000 and 2019. It is predicted that by 2030, there will be approximately 6.8 million fewer girls born in India due to this practice.  

Even though sex-selection is illegal in India and campaigns such as Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (Save the Girl Child, Educate the Girl Child) exist to raise awareness about the importance of girls' education and the issue of declining sex ratio, India still has a long way to go to change the deeply ingrained cultural attitudes that continue to favor sons over daughters.  


Like India, China also has a long history of patriarchal traditions, where sons are seen as more valuable than daughters. China’s one-child policy, which was introduced in 1979, has majorly contributed to this and resulted in increased widespread sex-selective abortion and female infanticide. Studies show that in the early 1980s, there were 108 male births to every 100 females, just a little over the natural rate; but by 2000, this ratio saw a jump in the male births to 120, even crossing 130 in some provinces. This resulted in millions of girls “missing” in the country.  

Though the one-child policy is no longer in effect, and the government has made some efforts to address the problem of son preference – including a ban on sex-selective abortion and efforts to promote gender equality, the impact of these policies has been limited. A report shows that between 1980 and 2020, there have been 30-40 million more male births than females who will probably not be able to find brides within the country. 

While some countries in Asia continue to struggle with this issue, some have made significant progress in reducing son preference and its negative consequences. 


South Korea is one of the pioneer countries to have made significant strides in reducing son preference. A combination of education, public policies, and urbanization has been key to reversing the trend. During the 1990s, the child sex ratio was 114 boys per 100 girls, but it has now decreased to 104 boys per 100 girls. Legal reforms played a major role in promoting gender equality within households and public life. In the late 1980s, the Family Law saw some pivotal revisions which included equal rights to inheritance for sons and daughters. With the pension reform in the 1990s, urban workers could save for their own retirement instead of depending on their sons to farm the land. The establishment of national health insurance and gradual expansion of pension plans also eroded people’s financial dependence on sons in their old age. 


In recent years, Taiwan has also progressed well in addressing the issue of son preference. The government has implemented policies to promote equal opportunities in education and employment. A study showed that the proportion of desiring more boys than girls declined from 27% in 1992 to 12% in 2002. The study also showed that education reduces son preference and leads to a higher degree of gender neutrality. 

Though these are tremendous developments, there is much that still needs to be done to address the root causes of son preference in Asia, and to promote basic human rights for girls and women, gender equality, public health, and socioeconomic growth.  

In India, the Vanishing Girls campaign actively works to fight against sex-selective abortions and save the lives of thousands of girls who are killed in the womb every day. With efforts to raise awareness and advocate for the rights and fundamental freedoms of the unborn girl child, the campaign aims to protect and promote the inherent dignity of daughters, which should not be any lesser than a son’s. 


Elina organizes trainings and events to build network with community leaders, lawyers, and students in South Asia. She also coordinates operations for Areté Academy Asia – a training programme for young professionals & students. Elina earned her master's degree in social work from Madras School of Social Work, specializing in Community Development.  

Rights of the Unborn Child

By Adv. Loreign Ovung

Child rights are imperative in today's society, especially in terms of protecting the unborn child in the mother's womb. While there is a general belief that life begins at birth, the significance of the womb where life originates is often overlooked. We may provide the utmost attention and every possible facility to a newborn baby to ensure their happiness, but what about an unborn baby still inside the mother's womb? Should they be considered a person and rewarded the same rights as a normal human being?

Unborn children rights are the ethical rights or legal privileges of the human foetus under regular and common law. The term foetal rights came into wide use after the point of interest case Roe v. Swim that legitimized foetus removal in the United States in 1973. The idea of foetal rights has developed to incorporate the issues of maternal medication and liquor abuse. The just worldwide bargain particularly handling foetal rights is the American Convention on Human Rights which conceives the privilege to life of the baby. While global human rights instruments do not have a general incorporation of the embryo as a man for the motivations behind human rights, the baby is allowed different rights in the constitutions and common codes of a few nations. (Legal Status of Unborn Children in India - LawBhoomi)

In India, while there is no specific legislation or statute that specifically defines the rights and the position of an unborn child under the law, statutes like the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 and the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 recognize and mention the unborn and have defined it to be a legal person by fiction. Under this, the state can and is required to interfere in inheritance matters once the unborn child has attained the stage of viability. As such, as per the Medical Termination of pregnancy (MTP) Act, abortions after 20 weeks pose certain legal restrictions. The right to life of a foetus is covered under Article 21 of the Constitution. Hence, the parens patriae power of the state extends to protecting the life of the foetus from the time it becomes viable, especially after the period of 20 weeks. The State’s parens patriae responsibility is to protect the life and liberty of those who are unable to look after themselves, including the voiceless, defenceless child in the womb.

In India, an unborn child, including a female foetus, does not have legal rights as such, but is protected under certain laws. The Indian Constitution provides for equality before the law and prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex. The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act of 1994 prohibits sex-selective abortions and makes it illegal to determine the sex of a foetus for non-medical purposes. 

It is also worth noting, the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act of 1994 targets the practice of female foeticide, and it is illegal to conduct sex-selective abortions. However, it's still a major issue in India and more efforts are needed to ensure that the law is enforced and that female foetuses are given the same protection and value as male foetuses.

The right of an unborn infant is a subject of a lot of debates, and it is debated whether an unborn child should get the same right a person should get. The rights of an unborn child are well recognized in various legal contexts which are as under:  

From the above context, after discussing the rights given to the unborn child for the protection of the life and property rights, it is clear that even the unborn child has certain rights of the unborn child. The unborn foetus should be considered as a normal person and should be made entitled to every right which a normal person is entitled to. Laws should be amended to ensure that the foetus is allowed to develop itself in a healthy environment and there should not be any harm to the life of the foetus.

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.  

Loreign holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Calcutta and is also law graduate from the Faculty of Law, Delhi University with an experience of over 12 years. She has previously worked for a commercial law firm, handling litigation matters in corporate law.

Informer Reward Scheme under the PCPNDT Act, 1994

Reward scheme for reporting sex-determination scans performed in violation of the Act. 

by Ajay Justice Shaw 

The Indian government's efforts to curb female foeticide and arrest the declining sex ratio in the country have led to the implementation of a reward scheme under the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostics Technique (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994.  

The Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostics Technique (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to stop female foeticide and arrest the declining sex ratio in India. It bans the misuse of prenatal diagnostic techniques for sex-selective abortion and regulates the use of such techniques by making them accountable and punishable. The Act includes provisions for the establishment of a Central Supervisory Board, State Supervisory Boards, Appropriate Authorities, and Registration and Regulation of Genetic Counselling Centres, Genetic Laboratories, and Genetic Clinics.  

Under Section 16A and Section 17(4) of the PCPNDT Act, any state may initiate an Informer Scheme, where the informer or decoy patient may receive rewards for carrying out a sting operation. The respective State Supervisory Boards determine the introduction of the Informer Scheme, the reward's magnitude, the reward's recipient, and other aspects. Usually, the Informer Scheme is introduced in states where the sex ratio is poor or has drastically decreased, and the state government takes this measure to improve it and ensure gender equality.  

The Informer Scheme allows citizens to act as informers and report the criminal offense of sex selection to the appropriate authorities, who can then take necessary action. The scheme has been introduced in several Indian states, including Rajasthan, Odisha, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana, where the sex ratio is poor or has drastically decreased. The scheme has had a positive impact on sex ratio figures in several states, especially in the state of Rajasthan.  

Schemes introduced by the following state’s authoritative body:  

Rajasthan: According to the 2011 Census, the Sex Ratio of the state of Rajasthan stood at 888 females per 1,000 males, which is abysmal. The Rajasthan Government introduced the Mukhbir Yojna scheme in 2012, providing an incentive of 3 lakh rupees in two instalments to the informer, decoy pregnant woman, and her companion for a successful decoy operation in the ratio of 2:2:1. The informer & decoy pregnant women will receive Rs. 60,000, while the companion will receive Rs. 30,000 in one instalment. According to official data, the state's sex ratio-at-birth figures have increased by 42 points in the last five years. The numbers for the 2015-16 period stood at 929 women per 1,000 males. 

Odisha: The sex ratio at birth for children born in the last five years (females per 1,000 males) was 894 in 2020-21, which was 932 in 2015-16 and 963 in 2005-06 (Source: National Family Health Survey NFHS-5).  

The Odisha State Government issued a set of guidelines for ‘Informer Incentive Scheme’ in 2022 to reward people for sharing information on illegal sex-determination. The informer would receive a cash award of Rs. 25,000 in three instalments. The informer would receive Rs. 10,000 in the first instalment after verification of the information's correctness, and the second instalment of Rs. 10,000 would be given after filing the prosecution report. The remaining Rs. 5,000 would be released after the accused is convicted. Moreover, the informant's identity and other aspects will not be disclosed at any given point in time. 

Delhi: In Delhi’s case, sex-ratio witnessed consistent fall between 2014 and 2017. Government data showed, it was recorded at 876 (females per 1,000 males) in 2014, 869 in 2015, 857 in 2016 and 850 in 2017, before rising to 899 in 2018 and 920 in 2019.   

A reward of Rs. 50,000 would be given to an informer for communicating about the unregistered or registered centre or machine and any other violation of the Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994 (PC-PNDT Act). An incentive or reward amount of Rs. 1,50,000 will be given to a decoy pregnant woman (decoy customer) on the successful completion of sting operation. A sum Rs. 50,000 is to be given to a decoy patient in the event of unsuccessful decoy operation, to compensate the decoy patient for her efforts, time and for the overall success of scheme. However, the informer shall not be compensated in any form in case of an unsuccessful decoy operation. This scheme was introduced in the year 2019.   

Uttar Pradesh: Sex Ratio in Uttar Pradesh is 912 i.e., for each 1000 male, which is below national average of 940 as per census 2011.  

The Informer Scheme was launched by the State Government in 2017. Under this scheme, a decoy pregnant women will receive 1 lakh rupees and her companion will receive Rs. 40,000. The informer communicating the violation of PCPNDT Act will receive Rs. 60,000 in three instalments on completion of sting operation, admission in Court and conviction.   

Haryana: As per 2011 Census, the Sex Ratio stood at 876 women against 1000 males. However, by NFHS 5 (2020-21), it improved to 926, while the sex ratio at birth recorded an increase from 836 (2015-16) to 893 (2020-21). 

The state government in Haryana announced in 2015 that informers of illegal sex-determination tests would be paid a cash reward of 1 lakh rupees - doubling the Informer Scheme reward announced previously in July 2014. If somebody gives information of sex-determination or female elimination and the information is found correct then based on that information, if the offender is successfully caught and it is prime facie (FIR/court cases under PNDT) established that he/she was indulged in the illegal activity of sex determination or female elimination, the informer will be given an incentive of 1 lakh rupees as cash in single instalment as fast as possible.   

However, India still faces gender inequality issues, with at least nine million female births "missing" between 2000 and 2019 due to sex-selective abortions, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. 

To combat the evil of sex-selective abortion, ADF India’s Vanishing Girls campaign works with several like-minded allies, state government bodies, public prosecutors, legal and civic bodies, social activists, medical professionals and ASHA workers to provide legal support as well as training to ensure acts have been implemented to protect the Girl Child are implemented effectively and adhered to strictly.  

For any information further on the Informer Scheme, write to askme@vanishinggirls.in


Ajay Justice Shaw is an allied lawyer with ADF India. After serving in the Indian Army for four years, he studied law at the prestigious Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi. He regularly appears in the High Courts and the Supreme Court of India with special interest in human rights. He is passionate about legal awareness, the rule of law, minority rights, refugee rights and environmental sustainability. He has completed his LLM in Property law from the Tamil Nadu Ambedkar Law University. 

Five Indian laws that protect and empower the Girl Child

The National Girl Child Day is celebrated in India every year on January 24. It was initiated in 2008 by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Government of India. It is a day set aside to call for increased awareness of challenges faced by girls in the country based on their gender.  

Over the years, the Indian government has undertaken various legal initiatives and measures to protect and empower the girl child. Let us look into five of them: 

1. Pre-Conception Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994:  

In India, gender inequality finds its most heinous expression in the form of sex-selective abortions. As per a study by Pew Research Center, at least nine million female births went “missing” between 2000 and 2019 because of sex-selective abortions. 

The PCPNDT Act is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to stop female foeticide and arrest the declining sex ratio in India.  The Act provides for the prohibition of sex selection, before or after conception, and for regulation of pre-natal diagnostic techniques for the purposes of detecting genetic abnormalities or metabolic disorders or chromosomal abnormalities or certain congenital malformations or sex-linked disorders and for the prevention of their misuse for sex determination leading to female foeticide and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Learn more on the Act here.  

2. Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 

India does not have any uniform law regarding property ownership and inheritance rights of women, which means the law in matters pertaining to inheritance and sharing of property differs for people from different faiths.  

Equal property rights of sons and daughters were recognised after the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 which stated that a daughter will have equal ownership in her father’s property even after she gets married.  

Learn more on inheritance rights for the Girl Child here

3. Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009: 

Under this Act, all children between the ages of six and 14 years have the right to free and compulsory education. The RTE Act also states that a child cannot be detained in any class till the completion of elementary education. Although this law is gender-neutral, it encourages the education of girl children, by giving them enhanced access to schooling. 

4. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 

The minimum age of marriage in India for girls is 18 years. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act provides a civil remedy as well as criminal provisions to prohibit child marriage and protect the rights of the children. While the Act provides for relief to the child entering the marriage, it also provides for punishment of adults, who enter into a child marriage or perform, conduct, or direct child marriages. 

5. Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 

All children, including female children, have the right to be brought up in a safe and protected environment. Special provisions for the protection, treatment, and rehabilitation of girls under the age of 18 are included in the Juvenile Justice Act. This act protects girls trapped in brothels for child prostitution and protects any person engaged in an immoral, drunken, or depraved life.  

Juvenile Welfare Boards addresses the issue of neglected girls by providing special protective homes and supervision by probation officers.  The Juvenile Justice Act also makes it illegal for parents and guardians of children to abuse, assault, neglect, or abandon a child. 


This National Girl Child Day, ADF India’s Vanishing Girls campaign is calling for proactive efforts by the Centre and state governments to improve the status of the Girl Child and ensure that prevention of the systematic erasure of our daughters to be of national priority. 

ADF India, with our network of legal experts across the country, would be glad to collaborate with you and organise free legal trainings for your organisation, church group, school, college, etc. to raise awareness about sex-selective abortion and other legal rights benefitting the Girl Child. You can reach out to us at askme@vanishinggirls.in. 

Defend the Mothers who defend L.I.F.E

In India, women face extreme societal pressure to produce a son. It is a sad reality for many mothers that they bear the full brunt of the scorn and shame for giving birth to a girl child. They consequently become victims of abuse, beatings, and sometimes, even murder. 

A research study (Voluntary Health Association of India, 2003) 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, bearing her living and education expenses with no expected return and concern about her marriage. (Thus, a notorious adage about raising girls is “watering the plant for somebody else’s garden".) Families desperate to escape the financial burden of having a daughter often resort to disowning the mother. The man is encouraged to remarry to increase his chances of having a son. Not only does the mother compromise her health and well-being, but she also loses “her status and honor” in society because of divorce or abandonment. 

In our efforts to end sex-selective abortion, ADF India, through its Vanishing Girls campaign, is committed to helping courageous mothers who go to lengths to save their daughters. 

In July 2020, ADF India allied lawyers helped Payal*, a young mother from Haryana, to be reunited with her four-year-old daughter Jaya* after nine months of painful separation. Payal had fled from her marital home with her two elder daughters, in 2019, after enduring years of unbearable pain and brutality at the hands of her husband and in-laws. Besides Payal, her daughters were also abused and tortured just because they were not the sons that the family wanted. Represented by ADF India allied lawyers, Payal successfully fought for her daughters in court and gained custody of Jaya.  

Another young mother in Jharkhand, Sunita*, was abused, disowned, prostituted, and shamed by her husband and in-laws for giving birth to two daughters. In this case, the husband had remarried in the greed to have sons. ADF India allied lawyers assisted Sunita to file a private complaint in court, and an FIR was lodged against her husband and those involved.  

The latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) data for 2019-21 indicates a slightly improved yet dangerously skewed sex ratio at birth–929 females per 1000 males. Such low ratios clearly expose daughter-aversion in the country. Sex ratio at birth is not just a medical record but an indicator of social attitudes and the gender balance which is necessary for the health of society.  

We cannot sit idly by while girls vanish from our country, our neighborhoods and our families. We cannot turn a blind eye to countless stories of how mothers are tortured or murdered for bearing daughters. 

ADF India is committed to defend brave mothers like Payal and Sunita, who defend ‘L.I.F.E’. (Love, Inheritance, Freedom and Equality) of the Girl Child. ADF India pursues this commitment by providing free legal aid and assistance to mothers who suffer abuse from their husband’s family and others for choosing to give birth to girls. This also includes women who are being forced to undergo sex-determination or sex-selective abortions. 

You can help us! If you see any woman in your family or community being treated unfairly because of son-preference, report it to the local authorities. You can also seek help by writing to ADF India at askme@vanishinggirls.in. 

Subsequently, by making a financial gift, you can protect mothers and defend the rights of girls to be born in this country. This gift will go towards providing the best legal help for securing justice for the mother and the girl child. 

Why India’s latest sex ratio of 1021 girls per 1000 boys is only a partial win

The latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) data for 2019-21 indicates that India has more females than males (1021 females per 1000 males), but ironically, also points towards a slightly improved yet dangerously skewed sex ratio at birth – 929 females per 1000 males. 

The report also highlights that the states of Jharkhand (899), Telangana (894), Odisha (894), Haryana (893), Rajasthan (891), Tamil Nadu (878), Himachal Pradesh (875), Goa (838), Chandigarh (838), and Daman & Diu (817) show fewer than 900 girls being born for every 1000 boys. Kerala shows the sharpest decline with respect to sex ratio at birth – falling 96 points from a robust 1047 girls per 1000 boys in 2015-16 to 951 in 2019.  

While it is a commonly known fact that naturally, more males are born than females in the human species, the sizeable gap between the number of boys and girls born in India clearly points towards the prevalence of the practice of sex-selective abortion. Couple that with the decline in India’s Total Fertility Rate, and we may face even fewer girls being both conceived and born.  

India has implemented the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 that has illegalised sex-selection, both before and after conception. This Act, although a step in the right direction, is by no means enough by itself to curb this inhuman practice.  

Law and Culture must work together to make people realise the morbid future that female foeticide will plunge the nation into, and ensure that this evil is eradicated not only in practice, but from people’s mindset. Then only, will every Girl Child conceived will be guaranteed L.I.F.E. (Love, Inheritance, Freedom, Equality). Then only will the country truly enjoy stability and development in all aspects. 

Raising awareness is critical right now.  

To combat the evil of sex-selective abortion, ADF India’s Vanishing Girls campaign works with several like-minded allies, state government bodies, public prosecutors, legal and civic bodies, social activists, medical professionals and ASHA workers to provide legal support as well as training to ensure relevant laws are effectively implemented to protect the women and the unborn girl child. 

Our training focuses on:  

Our legal experts would be glad to collaborate with you and organise free legal trainings for your organisation, church group, school, college, etc. to raise awareness about sex-selective abortion and empower the attendees in taking a strong stand against it.  

To know more about organising trainings with Vanishing Girls, you could:  

Read more about our past trainings here.

In a society where raising girls is considered ‘a lot of work’, we must not shy away from the hard work necessary to ensure L.I.F.E. to her

The year was 1973. Some elders of a nomadic Rajasthani community considered the situation of a ‘sapera’ (snake-charmer) who was away for work, and his wife, who lay unconscious after giving birth to a baby girl – the seventh child of the family. They decided that the girl (born only a few hours ago) would be ‘a lot of work’. So, rather than giving her her rightful place at her mother’s bosom, they saw it fit to dig a hole and bury her alive. 

But the girl was rescued, and she survived. Her father fought for his daughter’s right to live, and readily chose to be abandoned by the community. The girl went on to take the folk-dance tradition of the Kalbaliya community to the world stage.

In 2016, Gulabo Sapera was awarded the coveted Padma Shri for her art. She brought recognition to the same community that didn’t see any value in her! 

Gulabo was fortunate that her parents, especially her father, were supportive in the face of a society that considers girls as ‘a lot of work’. But there are many who are not that fortunate and neither find support nor find the L.I.F.E (Love, Inheritance, Freedom, and Equality) that they deserve. 

The statistics are staggering, and yet there has been little to no reduction in the number of sex-selective abortions in the country. A 2021 ToI article pegged the number of convictions under the PCPNDT Act as only 614 over the past quarter of a century!  

Meanwhile, the girl child continues to suffer the consequences of being considered a liability and a burden to her family in our society, even before she is born. 

To combat the evil of sex-selective abortion, ADF India’s Vanishing Girls campaign works with several like-minded allies, state government bodies, public prosecutors, legal and civic bodies, social activists, medical professionals and ASHA workers to provide legal support as well as training to ensure acts have been implemented to protect the Girl Child are implemented effectively and adhered to strictly. 

Our training focuses on: 

Our legal experts would be glad to collaborate with you and organise free legal trainings for your organisation, church group, school, college, etc. to raise awareness about sex-selective abortion and empower the attendees in taking a strong stand against it. 

To know more about organising trainings with Vanishing Girls, you could: 

Read more about our past trainings here: vanishinggirls.in/trainings/ 

What does FREEDOM mean in a Girl Child’s L.I.F.E.?

Published on 26 Aug, 2022

We felt broken many times in the past 30 days: 

In the same span, we saw the ladies of the nation making our hearts swell with pride. 

Such starkly contrasting narratives about the daughters of the nation, in the same timeframe, are nothing short of alarming. 

The former reports make a case for ‘son preference’ still being widely prevalent (as does the National Family Health Survey 5) and destroying multiple lives in the process. Meanwhile, the latter stories stand, boldly on the podium, to show what daughters are capable of, if they receive the L.I.F.E. (Love, Inheritance, Freedom, and Equality), and that FREEDOM is an absolutely critical element here. Contrary to the belief (still held by many) that daughters only contribute to the legacy of someone else’s family, daughters have the potential to build the legacy of a nation, given their rightful freedom. 

A testament to this is also a 2017 ToI interview with PV Sindhu, where she highlights the freedom her parents gave her while growing up, which allowed her to live up to her potential. “There were many struggles, but my parents supported me a lot. Whenever I wanted anything, wherever I wanted to go...they were there for me,” says Sindhu. 

But, in terms of Girl Child, how do you define Freedom? Here are our two (actually, three) bits. 

1. Freedom of environment: For a Girl Child to live up to her full potential, she must have a safe and healthy environment. It is essential that the laws that safeguard women are strictly implemented and adhered to. Further to this, the mindset of society must undergo a major transformation towards respecting the will, the ambition, the purpose, and the consent of women. In light of the increase in the number of rape cases, we must build legal awareness for women to have safe spaces to report such incidents of violence, if any. 

2. Freedom of education: In a previous article, ADF India Allied Lawyer Anushree Bernard wrote about the importance of education in the Girl Child’s life. She emphasises on how delaying marriage (until at least the marriageable age can be attained and focusing on education can empower her. The self-dependence and knowledge from this endeavour would ensure her health but also help in rectifying the declining sex ratio in the country.  

But, for many girls in the country, the reality is far from ideal. A poll of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) conducted in India on International Women’s Day (March 8th) 2022 called the dropout rates of female students “alarming”. Also, the post-COVID dropout rate for girls in India stands at 14.6%, according to the Unified District Information System for Education Plus Annual Report 2020-21. 

3. Freedom of employment: According to a 2019 Forbes article, “the participation of women in India’s workforce has been abysmal and is one of the lowest in the world.” And 2020 was not great for female professional either. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), women bore the brunt of unemployment due to COVID-19 affecting businesses, and hence, employment. The article claims that while the overall unemployment rate was 7%, the unemployment rate among women was as high as 18%! That’s one woman in six! Not just that, the Gender Gap Report 2022 by the WEF ranked India as low as 135th in gender parity

Employment equals self-dependence and self-sustenance. When women are denied the freedom of employment, they are denied the opportunity, to not just make the best choices for themselves, but also to contribute to society at large. India's economy would grow manifold when women are free to contribute to it.  

So, our appeal to you today, dear reader, is to give serious thought to the Freedom of the Girl Child, which in the long run becomes the Freedom of the Indian Woman. Let’s start a conversation about all the ways we can contribute to ensure that she gets the freedom she deserves, as well as requires, to reach her full potential. 

Art imitates LIFE - How a 2022 film FINALLY opens the mainstream discussion on sex-selective abortion

Updated on 15 July 2022

Divyang Thakkar’s directorial debut Jayeshbhai Jordaar did not make big splashes with its release on 13th May 2022. The film also received mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike. Though with flaws, this social dramedy deserves appreciation for attempting to draw the attention of mainstream media to a topic rarely discussed – sex-selective abortion.

Set in a village in Gujarat, the film follows the quest of a renegade couple (portrayed by Ranveer Singh and Shalini Pandey) to save their unborn girl child’s life from their own family, especially the patriarch (played by Boman Irani).

Despite Thakkar declaring, even before its release, that the film was “designed primarily as an entertainer”, the team seems to have done a fair bit of research on the topic. The film ties together a lot of underlying themes, practices, norms, and notions in the journey of the main characters.

Here are five moments from the film that highlight the inhuman practice of son-preference.

And yes, spoiler alert!

#1: How ultrasound technicians communicate the sex of the baby

(Copyright: Yash Raj Films / Amazon Prime)

Sex-selective abortion has been illegalised as per the Pre-Conception Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994. Yet, many technicians have found creatively secret ways of indicating the sex of the unborn child. In the movie, the doctor (portrayed as largely well-meaning) indicates to the father (Ranvir Singh) that his baby will be a girl by simply saying “Jai Mata Di”. This is one of the most common ways used by technicians to communicate the sex of the baby.

#2: The pregnant wife feels duty-bound and guilty that she cannot “give the family an heir”

(Copyright: Yash Raj Films / Amazon Prime)

In many parts of India, the onus of birthing a male heir lies on the mother. This cultural notion has seeped so deep in the psyche of people that sometimes the woman feels guilty and responsible for not fulfilling the family’s expectation. It is sad to see how Mudra considers it her inherent duty to produce a son – something that is not in her control. Upon finding out that she is pregnant with a girl again, she despairingly asks her husband to leave her.

#3: A village that learns the hard way to appreciate and respect girls

(Copyright: Yash Raj Films / Amazon Prime)

The first episode of Aamir Khan’s 2012 show Satyamev Jayate, highlighting female foeticide, featured a village near Kurukshetra, Haryana where, due to an extremely skewed sex ratio, the men were unable to find a mate to marry. The village of Laadopur in Jayeshbhai Jordaar is loosely based on the village from the show, where the villagers have now fully realised the horrors stemming from sex-selective abortion. This also mirrors the probable condition of society at large, which can be adversely affected if the sex ratio continues to skew further. According to UNICEF, “Seven thousand fewer girls are born in India each day than the global average would suggest, largely because female foetuses are aborted after sex determination tests”.

#4: BIOLOGICAL FATHERS (not mothers) are responsible for the sex of the baby

(Copyright: Yash Raj Films / Amazon Prime)

Elementary biology lessons teach us that the father’s genes decide whether you will have sons or daughters. It is utterly illogical and unreasonable to blame the mother for the sex of the child.

#5: Girls should be seen as heirs and inheritors as much as boys

(Copyright: Yash Raj Films / Amazon Prime)

Culturally, daughters inherit the values, the culture, the traditions, and beliefs of their parents. They play an important part in imparting the same to future generations as daughters, mothers, wives, grandmothers, among other roles.

Legally, inheritance laws in India recognise that daughters are entitled to inheritance as much as sons.


There is an urgent need to end the practise of sex selective abortions in India. Get involved in the Vanishing Girls campaign and host a film screening in your community to get a conversation started.  Write to us to let us know how we can help.

Or maybe you know someone who is being forced to undergo sex-selective abortion? We are a team of legal experts that can help. Reach out to us here.