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.

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. 

Recently, Bhavna heard of ADF India’s legal aid services through a friend and reached out to us. Our allied lawyers helped her file another complaint with the Women’s Cell and are preparing to file 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 will also be filed on her behalf.

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

Her Canvas 2021 - Contest Winners

Her Canvas, a nationwide art competition that took place in January 2021, invited school students to paint, sketch or draw on the theme "Isn’t She Precious!" to celebrate the inherent worth of the girl child.

The art contest was part of a 40-day collaborative Vanishing Girls Campaign countering the false narrative that girls are a liability. It promoted the message that Daughters Deserve LIFE, where LIFE stands for Love, Inheritance, Freedom and Equality.

The Contest received over 1,800 entries, with 103 schools participating from 18 Indian states. Hundreds of children engaged on the topic and will grow up refusing to participate in social evils like sex-selective abortion.

Find the winning entries below:

WINNING ENTRIES

Tejaswaani Kapoor, 15, Uttar Pradesh, captures the warm bond of love between a mother and her daughter.
Tanisha Shilen, 17, Rajasthan, urges every one to let the Girl Child be born into the world and like flowers be given the opportunity to bloom in her strength and unique beauty.
Purva Kumta, 15, from Maharashtra expresses, “My painting depicts the girl child as who she truly is, a work of art. We always celebrate great woman. But to be great, the girl child needs to be encouraged and empowered to excellence from an early age. My painting emphasizes on the need to create an atmosphere of love, peace and equality for the girl child.”
Gargi, 15, Delhi, has creatively depicted in vibrant colours the inherent worth of the Girl Child.
Pragnya Kabi, 8, Maharashtra, aptly captures the theme of our contest: Daughters Deserve LIFE - Love, Inheritance, Freedom, Equality!

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Saisha Verma, 15, from Chhattisgarh says "Girl Child Day is the only day dedicated to the little angels of our families. This day allows us to admire the daughters, their contributions and the splendor they bring to our homes".
Akshaj Dhadwal, 14, Delhi, has an important message through his art - "If girls are given better opportunities they can do even better than they are already doing despite the challenges they face. We should help and support them. It is the most significant need in the world at present."

List of Schools that participated:

Total: 103 schools from 18 Indian states.

SchoolState
1Air Force Golden Jubilee InstituteDelhi
2Akshar Arbol, ChennaiTamil Nadu
3Amruta Vidyalayam, MumbaiMaharashtra
4Auxilium SchoolTelangana
5Bethany High School, SarjapurKarnataka
6Bharti Public SchoolDelhi
7Buxi Jagabandhu English Medium SchoolOdisha
8Cambridge, Kandivali EastMaharashtra
9Dav Public School, NehrulMaharashtra
10Delhi Public School, PanvelMaharashtra
11Divine Mercy High SchoolGoa
12Dr. R. K. S. Masters Matric Higher Secondary SchoolTamil Nadu
13Eve's High School, AlwalTelangana
14Fr. Agnel Co. Ed. Sr. Sec. School, BhopalMadhya Pradesh
15Fransalian School Of Excellence, AurangabadMaharashtra
16Good Samaritan School, JasolaDelhi
17Good Samaritan, BijnorUttar Pradesh
18Good Shepherd International AccademyMaharashtra
19Greenpark International School, NamakkalTamil Nadu
20Guru Nanak Higher Secondary SchoolJharkhand
21Gurukul Olympiad SchoolMaharashtra
22Happy Model SchoolDelhi
23Heritage SchoolUttar Pradesh
24Jankidevi Public SchoolRajasthan
25K R Mangalam World School, FaridabadHaryana
26Kanaidighi Deshapran VidyapithWest Bengal
27Kendriya Vidyalaya JanakpuriDelhi
28Lakshdham High SchoolMaharashtra
29Leah Jones High School, KrishnaAndhra Pradesh
30LifeschoolKarnataka
31Little Flower High SchoolTelangana
32Mahoday Senior Public SchoolDelhi
33Mithibai CollegeMaharashtra
34Mount Carmel School, Anand NiketanDelhi
35Mount Carmel School, DwarkaDelhi
36Mount Zion AcademyTamil Nadu
37MVMSSS, Chetpet, ChennaiTamil Nadu
38New Era Public SchoolDelhi
39New Horizon Scholar SchoolMaharashtra
40Padma Seshadri Bala BhavanTamil Nadu
41Ramjas Public School Day Boarding DelhiDelhi
42Rosary Convent High SchoolTelengana
43Ryan At Joseph High SchoolMaharashtra
44Ryan Christian School, VashiMaharashtra
45Ryan Global School, KhargharMaharashtra
46Ryan Global School, KundalahalliKarnataka
47Ryan International School, AdajanGujarat
48Ryan International School, AmritsarPunjab
49Ryan International School, AryawartDelhi
50Ryan International School, BikanerRajasthan
51Ryan International School, BrookfieldKarnataka
52Ryan International School, ChemburMaharashtra
53Ryan International School, CochinKerala
54Ryan International School, DasnaUttar Pradesh
55Ryan International School, Dugri, LudhianaPunjab
56Ryan International School, EvershineMaharashtra
57Ryan International School, Goregaon EastMaharashtra
58Ryan International School, JaipurRajasthan
59Ryan International School, JalnaMaharashtra
60Ryan International School, MaladMaharashtra
61Ryan International School, MansarovarRajasthan
62Ryan International School, Mayur ViharDelhi
63Ryan International School, NoidaUttar Pradesh
64Ryan International School, Ozar , NasikMaharashtra
65Ryan International School, RohiniDelhi
66Ryan International School, SuratGujarat
67Ryan International School, Vasant KunjDelhi
68Ryan International, GhaziabadUttar Pradesh
69Sahoday Senior Secondary School, Hauz KhasDelhi
70Sahoday Senior Secondary School, Safdarjung EnclaveDelhi
71Saint Michael Senior Secondary SchoolDelhi
72San Academy Kamakoti Nagar ChennaiTamilnadu
73Sankara Vidya KandraTamil Nadu
74SBOA School And Junior CollegeTamil Nadu
75Sharada Mandir SchoolGoa
76Shri Shivaji Vidyalay BeedMaharashtra
77Skyline School Greater NoidaUttar Pradesh
78Somerville School, Greater NoidaUttar Pradesh
79Spring Valley SchoolKerala
80Sri Sankara Vidya KandraTamil Nadu
81St. Aloysius High School, Nalasopara EastMaharashtra
82St. Anns High School BolarumTelangana
83St. Augustine High School, Nerul, Navi MumbaiMaharashtra
84St. Claret SchoolWest Bengal
85St. Francis High School, Tidke Colony, NashikMaharastra
86St. Francis High School, Vasai WestMaharashtra
87St. Joseph High School, New PanvelMaharashtra
88St. Lawrence High School, VashiMaharashtra
89St. Mary's English High School, GeddalahalliKarnataka
90St. Mary's Senior Secondary School, Bahuakbarpur, RohtakHaryana
91St. Michael Junior School, Prasad NagarDelhi
92St. Michael Senior Secondary School, Pusa RoadDelhi
93St. Paul AcademyUttar Pradesh
94St. Xavier High School, Borivali EastMaharashtra
95St. Xavier's College, RanchiJharkhand
96St. Xavier's High School, AiroliMaharashtra
97St. Xavier's High School, Durg BorsiChhattisgarh
98St. Xavier's High School, Mira Road, Shanti NagarMaharashtra
99St. Xavier's High School, NagpurMaharashtra
100Sunbeam Varuna VaranasiUttar Pardesh
101Victoria Girls Primary SchoolDelhi
102Vidya Niketan School, SaketDelhi
103Vishwajyot High School, KhargharMaharashtra

Isn't She Precious!

Every day in India, 7000 unborn girls are selectively aborted in the womb, just because they are girls. The discrimination against the girl child at birth continues in life and is based on the false premise that girls are a liability. It is important to counter this narrative and celebrate the inherent worth of girls. 

January 24 has been commemorated as National Girl Child Day in India since 2008 to raise awareness on the need to protect and promote the girl child.

On January 24, 2021, a 40-day collaborative campaign is being launched by several likeminded organisations, to reinforce the message that Daughters Deserve LIFE, where LIFE stands for Love, Inheritance, Freedom and Equality.

Following the online launch event, various partnering organizations will lead workshops, rallies, awareness programs and webinars culminating on the International Women’s Day on March 8, 2021. 

Her Canvas 2021

Her Canvas 2021 is a nationwide art competition inviting school students to paint, sketch or draw on the theme Isn’t She Precious!

We want you to use art to promote the message that Daughters Deserve LIFE, where LIFE stands for Love, Inheritance, Freedom and Equality.

Every day in India, 7000 unborn girls are selectively aborted in the womb, just because they are girls. The discrimination against the girl child at birth continues in life and is based on the false premise that girls are a liability.

This art contest is part of a 40-day collaborative Vanishing Girls Campaign that counters this false narrative and celebrates the inherent worth of the girl child.

Prizes

The top 5 entries will each receive special vouchers for ₹3,000/- and the first 100 entrants will all receive a certificate of participation.

Guidelines

  1. All school students under the age of 18 can participate 
  2. The painting, sketch or drawing must capture the theme “Isn’t She Precious” to emphasize the inherent worth of every girl child
  3. Only original work will be accepted
  4. Submission
    • Scan or take a clear photograph of your artwork 
    • Submit before 6 PM (IST) on National Girl Child Day, 24 January 2021
  5. Winners will be announced at 6 PM on 31 January 2021

Terms & Conditions

  1. Contestants represent and warrant that the art is original, created by the entrant and they own the rights to their work
  2. By submitting their art to ADF India for this Contest, all entrants agree to assign the copyright of the art submitted to ADF India, which includes the right to use the art in any manner and media, including without limitation, the right to publish, adapt, distribute, copy, display or translate in printed or electronic media, even if they are not the winning entries.
  3. By entering the Contest, the Contestant fully and unconditionally agrees to be bound by these rules and the decisions of the organizer of the Campaign, which will be final and binding in all matters relating to the Contest.

For any queries, please email askme@vanishingirls.in