GIRLS RISING IN HARYANA
Strict enforcement of pre-natal laws finally brings the state some good news on the girl child
The state shows significant improvement in its skewed sex ratio for the first time in the five decades of its existence
Amid several tense weeks during which the Jat quota agitation threatened to erupt all over again, there’s finally a real reason to rejoice in Haryana—the birth of more girls. For the first time in the five decades the state has existed with the ignominy of the lowest sex ratios in the country, March 2017 historically recorded the birth of 950 girls for every 1,000 boys, the highest ever.
Haryana had seen an appalling average sex ratio at birth (SRB) of just 762 till 2005-2006, which had improved only marginally by the time Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched his flagship ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ scheme from Panipat in 2015.
Given that backdrop, the birth of 17,627 girls against 18,555 boys this March really seemed like a staggering achievement. Believe it or not, two districts—Narnaul and Palwal—had more female births than males. Of the 1,021 babies born in Narnaul, 573 were girls. The news from Palwal was even better—1,003 girls against 824 boys.
The turnaround, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar says, has been achieved through strict enforcement of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994, and the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, alongside sensitisation and awareness initiatives centred on the girl child.
CM Khattar says some 400-odd FIRs
have been filed against offenders involved in sex selection and foeticide so far. “More than 80 cases,” he says, were registered following inter-state investigations of criminals and clinics in neighbouring Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Punjab.
Khattar’s crackdown used decoys to target unscrupulous clinics as well as fake agents offering sex selection drugs. The state health authorities also cracked down on imported (mainly Chinese) sex determination and MTP kits sold by unauthorised practitioners and paramedics. Scores of cases have been registered, and the Haryana government has also succeeded in securing convictions in 10, officials said.
Rakesh Gupta, additional principal secretary in the CM’s office, says much of the success is owed to establishing SOPs (standard operating procedures) and guidelines to tackle PCPNDT and MTP cases. This includes mandatory provisions to train police officers, public prosecutors and state health officials.
NEW HOPE DAWNS Haryana CM Manohar Lal clicks a selfie with visiting girl children at his home in Chandigarh
District sex ratio for March 2017 (per 1,000 male births) as per Civil Registration System