Thursday, December 21, 2006

Missing girls in Madhya Pradesh

Letter to the Hoot: Recent articles in the media have tried to give visibility to an issue which is prevalent yet neglected.

Female foeticide and infanticide is not a new phenomenon, but debate on it is growing. Stories from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Gujarat get space in media, which is genuine as they have the lowest child sex ratio in the country. A few months back the news channel Sahara Samay had undertaken some sting operation on nursing homes in states including Madhya Pradesh which were illegally undertaking use of pre natal diagnostic technique for purpose of sex determination of the foetus, banned as per PC & PNDT Act. Some NGOs had filed the first public interest litigation in the state on the issue, which was covered by newspapers like Hindustan Times, The Hindu, Pioneer and Rajya Ki Nai Dunia.

This children’s day there was a first lead story in Dainik Bhaskar from Morena, a district in the state of Madhya Pradesh which has the lowest sex ratio in the state i.e. 837 girls per 1000 boys. The story helped to raise concern on the declining sex ratio in the state, which remains unnoticed by many decisionmakers and media. The story did bring out the focus on the issue of female infanticide prevalent in our society. It pegged the child sex ratio in some parts of the district as 400 girls per 1000 boys. Though statisticians may debate this, but fact of the matter is that girls are being knowingly killed , which still remains unnoticed by many. That story which was call to action and prompted many others to follow.

Dainik Jagran another leading daily in the state wrote an editorial on the issue, which was much needed. Following this there was a recent article in the Hindi magazine Maya by Dr Manohar Agnani. He has being a front runner in raising concern on the issue of female foeticide and in his article points out that it is not only Morena but is prevalent in other districts of the state too. He talks of a village in the district Shivpuri which may have sex ratio as low as 600/ 1000. He adds that time has come that we start talk about the solutions. It may be pertinent to mention about Dr Manohar Agnani’s recent book on female foeticide. It has been titled as Missing Girls and was published by ‘Books for Change’.

Recent articles in media in the state have tried to give visibility to an issue which is prevalent yet wilfully neglected by us. These stories should be a call to people within media, civil society and all of us who feel pained to convert this into a sustained and regular concern feeding media with needed evidence and stories which are newsy and backed by substance to make sure that not only people who make policies but society as a whole rises to put a stop to this killing of girls. This may be just one way to raise concern by engaging media though the solution still lies within all of us.

Anil Gulati

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