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/ 

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.

GET INVOLVED

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.

Dear Fathers, your daughters inherit more than genes from you

17 June, 2022

We’ve all heard it – children attributing talents, temperament, mannerisms and physical features to their fathers. While reading this, many of you might even be led to think about all the things you have inherited from your father. That’s how we have been created. But inheritances are not just limited to facial, physical and behavioral legacy. The one we want to draw your attention to, on the occasion of Father’s Day, is legal legacy, or legal inheritance. 

The Indian Constitution guarantees gender equality before the law. Article 15 prevents the state from discriminating against any citizen of India or violating their equal rights on the basis of race, caste, religion, class, or sex etc. This equality cannot be achieved if women and girls are not economically independent. The right to inheritance is an important agency that empowers women and girls to secure this independence.  

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. Prior to the amendment, daughters could only be ‘members’, not ‘coparceners’ (individuals who have a legal right to their ancestral property by birth). While coparceners could ask for partition and share of the property, members couldn’t. Once the daughter gets married, she stops being a member and therefore she loses her right to the share and maintenance of her father’s property. 

Landmark Judgements  

In many families across the country, strong patriarchal traditions have translated into fear of violence by their male relatives, preventing women from fighting for their inheritance rights. It has been 18 years since the amendment of The Hindu Succession Act (2005), but a lot of women, even educated ones, are in the dark about their inheritance rights.  

Here are 3 things every father/parent can do now to safeguard their daughter’s inheritance: 

  1. Stay informed on the different laws that apply to you as per your faith or custom 
  1. Draft a will. It is the best way to pass on assets. While nominations help in transferring movable assets like bank deposits or insurance policies, a will takes legal precedence over a nomination. Get a probate, if required, as it’s needed in some states 
  1. Talk to your daughter, as well as many others, about their inheritance rights. Spreading awareness about these rights is extremely important 

ADF India’s Vanishing Girls campaign is calling for proactive efforts by the Centre and state governments to enforce every daughter’s right to inheritance. Let’s move towards a future where daughters can freely claim their legal inheritance just as they claim other inheritances from you. 

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. 

State Level Training on Effective Implementation of the PC-PNDT Act

Updated on 16 May, 2022

On 30 April, 2022, ADF India’s Vanishing Girls Campaign and Girls Count in collaboration with the Directorate of Family Welfare, Health & Family Welfare Department, GNCT of Delhi organised a State Level Training in New Delhi on effective implementation of the PC-PNDT Act.  

Shri Amit Singla, Secretary, Health & Family Welfare, GNCT of Delhi, was the Guest of Honor at the one-day training and gave a special address. He stated, “A consistent capacity building effort like this training is not only helpful in understanding the Act in letter and spirit but also improves the implementation of the Act.” 

Mrs. Tehmina Arora, Director, ADF India, making the opening remarks said, “ADF India, as part of its Vanishing Girls campaign, is committed to do all we can to change the situation and use our skills and resources to protect the unborn Girl Child. As a national network of lawyers, we provide pro bono legal services to vulnerable communities. We have conducted legal training on the rights of women, trained ASHA workers and doctors. In addition, we have also led social campaigns to build awareness on this issue, to check on the problem of sex-selective abortions and to promote the inherent worth of the baby girl. I encourage us to use this training to grapple through the challenges we are trying to address as we look into the PCPNDT Act.”

The panel of speakers at the training included Dr. Monika Rana, Chairperson, State Appropriate Authority, Delhi & Director, DFW, GNCT of Delhi; Smt. Mahalakshmi Pavani, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India; Shri Gude Venkateswara Rao, Director, Directorate of Prosecution, GNCT of Delhi; and Dr Satyajit Kumar, State Nodal Officer, PCPNDT Cell, DFW, GNCT of Delhi.

The technical sessions were led by Adv. Varsha Deshpande, National Inspection and Monitoring Committee; Rizwan Parwez, Girls Count; Dr Satyajit Kumar, State Nodal Officer, PCPNDT Cell, DFW, Govt. of NCT of Delhi; Adv. Uday Prakash Warunjikar, Bar Council of India; Adv. Jagriti Singh, Delhi High Court; and Adv. Jaiwant Patankar, Legal Counsel, ADF India. These technical sessions covered an overview of the implementation of the PC-PNDT Act in Delhi, the trend in Sex Ratio at Birth, standard operating guidelines of the Act, online content monitoring important etc. 

The training was attended by over 120 personnel including public prosecutors, members of Delhi State Legal Services Authority, investigation officers, nodal officers, and Sub Divisional Magistrates.

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

--------------- 

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. 

Raise Your Hand

25th November is celebrated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. At first thought, one can think of only two topics that comprise Violence against Women: domestic violence and rape - and (unfortunately) many times, they happen together. But when you think deeper about it, and realise how prevalent this issue is in our country, across classes, you understand that SEX-SELECTIVE ABORTION IS VIOLENCE TOO!

It is the first (and the last) experience of violence for many unborn girl children. Their sex is illegally detected and they breathe their last even before their first cry. And it's not just an act of brutal violence against the child, but the mother as well, as her body goes through the unnatural process of abortion, which, in many instances, is absolutely against her will, and wreaks havoc on her physical and mental health.

And this heinous and diabolical practice of SEX-SELECTIVE ABORTION is what ADF India's Vanishing Girls campaign advocates and fights against.

Here's what Vanishing Girls is asking you to do through the 16 days between 25th Nov & 10th December to raise awareness about SEX-SELECTIVE ABORTION as violence against women.

We want you to get on your social media network, on IG, reels, FB, WhatsApp statuses, and #RAISEYOURHAND.
Raising one's hand is not just a metaphor for violence, but a way of voicing your opinion.

SO FOLLOW THESE STEPS
1. Draw an orange female icon symbol on your hand (Orange is UN's colour of choice for the observance) or us this Instagram filter
2. Get creative with what reel you choose to show that symbol: take on any trend that's floats your boat (we're sending some references)
3. Post it on IG, FB using #RaiseYourHand
4. Tag @Save_Our_VanishingGirls, and we'll repost your content

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.

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. 

#GiveHerLIFE Online Photography Contest 2019 - Winning Entries

For this year's International Day of the Girl Child on 11th October, the Vanishing Girls Campaign commemorated the occasion by launching a nationwide online photography competition. The Vanishing Girls Campaign invited all photographers (amateur and  professional) to participate in this contest to bring awareness to the cause of the Girl Child.

The theme of the Contest was: #giveherLIFE (Love, Inheritance, Freedom, Equality). The jury consisted of five reputed professional photographers: Karan Khanna, Altaf Qadri, William Chang, Riddhi Parekh and Paromita Chatterjee.

The Contest received over 500+ entries from across the country. The winning images appropriately reflects the consideration the photographers have put in for their respective entries. We appreciate the generous support of all those who participated in the contest to contribute to the cause through their photographs. There were eight winners selected. The first, second and third winners received a cash prize of ₹15,000/-, ₹10,000 and ₹5,000/- respectively. Five consolation prize winners were awarded a cash prize of ₹1,000 each. Find the winning entries below:

Grand Winner 📸 UDAYAN SANKAR PAL, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
"This image is a story. Almost an essay in one photo, Youth and old age showed in one frame in such a beautiful way. A great positive message. Love the composition, the colors, the subjects, the play of age and playfulness with the animals in hand."
Contest Judge @riddhi_parekh on the photo
Second Place Winner 📸 RATHIN DEY, Santipur, West Bengal
"An ember sparked will softly glow, and fed by fuel, will grow and grow.
I once was cinder, sparked by courage.
First timid, till the flames grew and grew."
Third Place Winner 📸 MOHAMMAD ANAS, Delhi
With 7000 girls aborted every day in the country because of sex-selection, India ranks 4th in the world with the worst child sex ratio. This genocide of girls remain hushed, silenced and ignored despite these alarming data proving how to this day girls are unwanted in the country. Where is the outrage? Where is the uproar?
Consolation Prize Winner 📸 ANAND SUBRAMANIAN, Mumbai, Maharashtra
Let them live, Let them thrive: Girls are the future of our country. This meaningful photo captures this lovely school girl in a backdrop forming the colors of our national flag.

#giveherLIFE - Celebrating the Girl Child

campaign giveherlife, international day of the girl

To get free passes to the event: REGISTER HERE.

Since 2012, October 11 has been marked as the International Day of the Girl by the United Nations. The day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face while promoting girls' empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights. 

This year, Vanishing Girls Campaign marks the occasion by celebrating the girl child at Dilli Haat, Opposite INA Market, New Delhi on the theme #giveherLIFE (LIFE: Love, Inheritance, Freedom, Equality) on Friday, October 11, 2019 from 5 PM onwards

The celebration will include musical performances by Zephyr, the acapella society of Kamla Nehru College and Swaranjali, the Indian music society and the band of Hansraj College, Delhi University. Asmita theatre, one of the leading Hindi theatre groups in the country will also awaken the audience on the issue of sex-selective abortions in India.

To join us in this celebration and to get free passes to the event: REGISTER HERE.