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.
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 email@example.com
Jemi oversees and develops training programs for equipping women and raising awareness against the practise of sex-selective abortions in India. She is holds a MA in Clinical Psychology, and also serves the community as a Counselor.