Save girls, save the girl child, is a campaign in India to end the gender-selective abortion of female fetuses. Aborting a foetus because it is female is a major social problem in India and has cultural connections with the dowry system that is ingrained in Indian culture, despite the fact that it has been prohibited by law since 1961. In India a strong preference for sons over daughters exists, unlike in Western cultures. Pregnancies are planned by resorting to 'differential contraception'. Following conception, foetal sex is determined by prenatal diagnostic techniques after which female foetuses are aborted.Social discrimination against women and a preference for sons have been promoted. Pre-natal sex-determination was banned in India in 1994. This act aims to prevent sex-selective abortion. But it is estimated that more than 10 million female foetuses have been illegally aborted in India. Researchers for the Lancet journal stated that 500,000 girls were being lost annually through sex-selective abortions. The dowry system in India is often blamed; the expectation that a large dowry must be provided for daughters in order for them to marry is frequently cited as a major cause for the problem.
Pressure for parents to provide large dowries for their daughters is most intense in prosperous states where high standards of living, and modern consumerism, are more prevalent in Indian society. In India, dowry is the payment in cash or some kind of gifts given to bridegroom's family along with the bride. Generally they include cash, jewellery, electrical appliances, furniture, bedding, crockery, utensils and other household items that help the newly-wed set up her home. The dowry system is thought to put great financial burden on the bride's family.
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It has been one of the reasons for families and women in India resorting to sex selection in favor of sons. Female foeticide has led to an increase in human trafficking. In 2011, 15,000 Indian women were bought and sold as brides in areas where foeticide has led to a lack of women. Government response to the problem has been known to not have stopped female foeticide from occurring. The existence of several loopholes in the system means the practice of sex-selective abortion continues.
An example of one of these loopholes would be on the pretext of checking for genetic disorders in the foetus, who can stop a doctor from examining the sex of the unborn child and informing the parents in secret. Authorities often let the unlawful parents and doctors off with light punishment. Often, when the mothers disobey the husband’s family decision to abort the female foetus and report it to the authorities, the suits are ignored or given a light sentence: The mother is targeted for bearing girls and disobeying the family’s decision to abort the child.
She may even lose her job, be expose to constant death threats, and be left with unresolved cases. In addition, others who give birth to girls are prone to violence. Even if she is able to give birth to the baby girls, the family is likely to not report the births and even murder them. The "Beti Bachao" campaign is supported by human rights groups, non-governmental organizations, and state and local government in India.
Beti Bachao activities include large rallies, poster campaigns, wall paintings, billboards, and television commercials and short animations and video films. Some celebrities have become involved in “Save the girl child” initiatives. Another example of an organization, or campaign designed to help or promote girls right’s and lift them out of poverty is “Because I am a Girl”. It is geared towards equipping, enabling and engaging girls of all ages to acquire the assets, skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in life.
The campaign focuses on inequality faced by girls in developing countries, and promotes projects to improve opportunities for girls in education, medical care, family planning, legal rights, and other areas. The campaign has reported some success in parts of India. In 2009, it was reported that in Gujarat, rates of female births increased from 802 to 882 for every 1000 male births. India declared the year 2007 as “Awareness year of female feoticide”. Beti Bachao activities were credited with this improvement.
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