Need to Save the Girl Child in India

Despite the Indian Government having enacted the law against using ultrasound technology for sex-selective abortions, continued practice is believed to be resulting in more than 500,000 female foetuses being terminated every year.

India must urgently tackle its “vanishing” girl population as the nation awaits the birth of the world’s seven billionth baby, says child rights organisation Plan International.

Plan will mark October 31 – the day when the global population is projected to pass 7 billion – by celebrating the birth of a girl in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.

According to India’s 2011 Census, there are now 7 million more boys than girls aged 0 to 6 years and the gap is growing.

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The ratio of girls to boys has dropped to an all time low since records began. Today, the national figure has fallen to an alarming 914 girls for every 1,000 boys. In some states like Punjab that ratio is as low as 846 girls to 1,000 boys.

Nigel Chapman, Plan International CEO said: “The continuous decline in the relative number of India’s girls is extremely concerning and needs to be halted.”

Plan is advocating girls’ rights and empowerment through its global campaign “Because I am a Girl.” The organisation has launched the “Let Girls Be Born” initiative in India to galvanise action to address the country’s disturbing sex ratio.

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Uttar Pradesh not only accounts for the highest number of births but also the highest number of “missing girls.” With a population bigger than that of Brazil, it has just 899 girls for every 1,000 boys. The situation is similar in many other Indian states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Bihar.

Through its global “Count Every Child” work, Plan has also made birth registration an integral part of its girls’ rights campaigns. The organisation will advocate with the Uttar Pradesh government to issue a birth certificate to “Baby 7 Billion” at a public function on October 31.

According to provisional totals, India’s population at 1,210.2 million (1.2 billion) is almost equal to the combined population of the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Japan put together.

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Rakesh Raman