Bangalore, Oct.14 (ANI): A walkathon was held here on Sunday to promote the cause of saving a girl child.
India is advancing but many women still trapped in dark ages. India's women are discriminated against, abused and even killed on a scale unparalleled in the top 19 economies of the world, according to a poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The poll results - based on parameters such as quality of health services, threat of physical and sexual violence, level of political voice, and access to property and land rights - jars with the modern-day image of India.
A girl's fight for survival begins in the womb due to an overwhelming desire for sons and fear of dowry, which has resulted in 12 million girls being aborted over the last three decades, according to a 2011 study by The Lancet.
The marathon was organised by a management college and a school in the city.
Secretary of centre for Developmental Education at a business school, Sanjay Parode said India must concentrate on this cause in order to control the growing difference in the sex ration.
"Saving a girl child is something, which India as a country must concentrate on. We have to maintain the sex ration in the country and ensure that we give an equal opportunity to the other sex for building themselves up and leading the country in the future," said Parode.
Social workers say decades of aborting female babies in a deeply patriarchal culture has led to a decline in the population of women in some parts of India and in turn has resulted in rising incidents of rape, human trafficking and the emergence of "wife-sharing" amongst brothers.
Aid workers say the practice of female foeticide has flourished among several communities across the country because of a traditional preference for sons, who are seen as old-age security.
An Indian athlete, Reeth Abraham, who flagged off the marathon, said as most of the youngsters are present for the marathon, so this will surely make a difference on their mindset.
"In the cities, we still feel that things like this don't happen and it only happen in villages but discreetly there are big families who still do not want to have a girl child. If somebody is starting a family and the lady is pregnant and she comes to know it's a girl child, they don't want the first child to be a girl child and we think it does not happen with people around us but it does happen and this will open the eyes of youngsters and of people who are not aware of what is happening in the country. Since many of the school children are here and they are boys and girls, so it's definitely going to make a difference," said Abraham.
Around 500 people participated in the marathon, which covered a distance of 2.5 kilometres.
The threats in India are manifold - from female foeticide, child marriage, dowry and honour killings to discrimination in health and education.
Despite laws banning expectant parents from doing pre-natal tests to determine the gender of their unborn child, the illegal abortion of female foetuses is still common in some parts of India, where a preference for sons runs deep.
Provisional results from the Census of India show that while the female to male ratio in the population has improved since the last census in 2001, the number of girls under six years old has declined for the fifth consecutive decade.
There are now 940 females to every 1,000 males in India, compared to 933 in 2001, said the report. But the national child sex ratio shows there are only 914 girls compared with 927 a decade ago.
Sons, in traditionally male-dominated regions, are viewed as assets-breadwinners who will take care of the family, continue the family name, and perform the last rites of the parents, an important ritual in many faiths.
Daughters are seen as a liability, for whom families have to pay substantial wedding dowries. Protecting their chastity is a major concern as instances of pre-marital sex are seen to bring shame and dishonour on families.
The government banned sex determination tests using techniques like ultrasonography and amniocentesis in 1996, to stop parents aborting children when they were found to be female.
But in states like Haryana, Punjab and Gujarat, as well as the national capital, Delhi, the practice continues with private doctors offering the service illegally to those willing to pay.
Women's rights activists say breaking down these deep-rooted, age-old beliefs is a major challenge. (ANI)