Declining sex ratio national shame, all must work to save girls:PM

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New Delhi, Apr 28 (UNI) Terming the declining sex ratio and low levels of female literacy as ''national shame,'' Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today sought the cooperation of the civil society and peoples representatives to work for saving the girl child by stopping female foeticide which is the most ''inhuman, uncivilised and reprehensible act.'' Inaugurating the National Meeting on 'Save the Girl Child' here, Dr Singh stressed the need for social awareness and strict enforcement of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostics Techniques Act. He urged all concerned to help put an end to this practice adopted by misuse of otherwise life saving modern technology.

Underlining societal discrimination against women begins at home, he said, ''It begins even before the girl child is born. The patriarchal mindset and preference for male children is compounded by unethical conduct on the part of some medical practitioners assisted by unscrupulous parents who illegally offer sex determination services.'' The Prime Minister urged the participation of every citizen in empowering the girl child stating that action must begin at home, in families and communities.

''I do not say this as the Prime Minister of India. I say this as the proud father of three daughters. I wish for every girl in our country what I wish for my own daughters,'' he added.

Dr Singh asked the Health Ministry to focus on orienting the million plus elected representatives of the panchayats and urban local bodies and use them as a medium for fighting this practice.

He told the Ministry of Women and Child Development that it should enlist the support of women panchayat leaders and women Self-Help Groups to strengthen the nutrition programme in the country.

Citing oppressive patriarchy and bias against girls and women as the reason behind the declining sex ratio, he said female illiteracy, obscurantist social practices like child marriage, dowry, poor nutritional entitlements, taboos on women in public places make the Indian women and especially the girl child extremely vulnerable.

Child sex ratio statistics in the zero-six age group for the past four decades have been showing a continuous decline. The decline in girls per 1000 boys from 962 in 1981 to 927 in the year 2001 is indeed alarming. The census figures illustrated that some of the richer states has more acute problem including Punjab which had only 798 girls, Haryana 819, Delhi 868 and Gujarat 883 girls per 1000 boys in the 2001 Census.

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