Sex ratio improves in Haryana but girls still face bias

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Rohtak, July 29 (101Reporters-IANS) While the Haryana government is highlighting achievement of the 900 mark in the sex ratio at birth (SBR) — it has been awarded for improving statistics under the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ initiative — the perception towards the girl child remains largely unchanged.

Haryana’s SBR was 819 in 2001, the second lowest in the country. It improved to 834 in 2011. At the start of the campaign in 2014, the ratio stood at 871. It rose to 914 in 2017.

Suman Manjiri, a former police officer who works on women-related issues, said, “When a boy is born, it’s seen as a matter of pride and strength for the family. But when a girl is born, it’s seen as a burden or an uninvited guest in the family,” she said. It’s no different among the educated, she added.

Karminder Kaur, district child marriage prohibition and protection officer of Rohtak, said told 101Reporters over 300 child marriages were prevented in Haryana last year alone. Parents believed a minor girl would be safer with an older man, she said.

“The general mindset is to marry them off as soon as they turn 13 or 14. They live in some unknown fear related to the girl child, while for the boy they think differently,” she said.

Surekha, general secretary of the Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) of Haryana, said the practice of doling out cash on the birth of a boy to health workers or the midwife continued, but in case of a girl the midwife did not offered anything.

Despite the fact that the pregnant woman has no role in the gender selection of the child, she has to bear the pressure of in-laws and parents to give birth to a male child.

Bhumika Sharma, assistant professor at Sonipat’s GVM Girls College, said the number of girls discontinuing education after school was alarming. The parents refrained from sending daughters to a city owing to rising levels of crimes against women, she added.

“There are hundreds of girls whose dreams die every day. They are conditioned to live the life of an ordinary woman who knows how to cook, mop floor, serve husband and retire with no complaint,” she said.

Pratibha Rani, a college student, said while people had started sending daughters to college, the mindset about the choice of clothes remained restricted. “Wearing jeans or shorts or western clothes are considered taboo in the rural areas,” she said.

She claimed a local girl was not allowed to study at the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad, because her parents were worried about her safety.

Partap Ahlawat, a resident of Dighal village in the Jhajjar district, dubbed the effort of women empowerment unnecessary. He said girls should be married off at an early age to avoid crimes. “She has to manage her in-laws’ house, the faster she reaches there, the better it is for her,” he said.

Giving equal opportunities and empowerment of girl child had never been a priority for rural people, Ahlawat said.

–IANS

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