Madhya Pradesh has one of the highest rates of female foeticide in India
According to 2011 census, 914 girls are born for every 1000 boys below the age of 6, as compared with 927 girls for every 1000 boys in the 2001 census.
However, let us take a short break from these revealing numbers for a while, in order to focus on an image. This image is of a one-day old baby girl, wrapped in a thin piece of cloth, her nose bleeding profusely, barely alive as she was rushed to a local hospital where she died a few moments later. The baby girl was buried alive in Mandleshwar forest in central Madhya Pradesh and was discovered by two nuns who heard her cries. She did not survive, and is but one example of many little baby girls who are killed or abandoned because they are not male. This incident took place on July 5th 2013, at a time when the country and its people are reportedly trying to combat this social evil.
Madhya Pradesh tops the list of Indian states which report the highest number of foeticides and infanticides in the country. Figures released by the National Crime Records Bureau for 2012 reveal that of the 210 foeticides which occurred in the country, 30.84% occurred in Madhya Pradesh; that would indicate that 64 foeticides occurred in this state itself. These figures are based on actual reported cases, which are not representative of the hundreds of cases which go unreported each year.
Foeticide and its ramifications stretch way beyond one would like to imagine. For example, the unequal gender ratio forces men from foeticide-ravaged states to seek brides and companionship from elsewhere; this often leads to incidents of kidnapping and wrongful confinement, issues not particularly prioritized by authorities. Trafficking is a considerable issue which is also partly impacted by this unequal gender ratio.
Madhya Pradesh also ranks second after Uttar Pradesh in context with being one of the most unsafe states for children. It also has one of the highest incidents of violent crimes against women in the country, ranking close to Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and West Bengal.
While posting statistics is easy, discussing the root cause of foeticide is not quite as easy; considering the number of campaigns conducted by the Madhya Pradesh government which is apparently doing its best to tackle the issue. It is difficult to address the issue of foeticide within a patriarchal mindset whose views on gender equality and the need for more men over women, is quite contradictory considering how the men in question have been given birth to by a woman!
It is time to act on the overall issues which propagate the killing of the girl child, and one of the first steps to take is to address patriarchy and other belief systems which are regressive, and call for the murder of the girl child in the name of apparent social progress. With greater awareness and more vigilant systems which monitor the activities of centers and medical professionals who promote foeticide, it is hoped that the country and states like Madhya Pradesh will effectively combat the issue and allow the female child her basic right to life.