Female foeticide, a shame on Indian society: PM

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New Delhi, Aug 15 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Saturday, termed female foeticide as a "shame" on Indian society, and added that the country cannot progress unless women become equal partners in growth.

"It is very sad that in our society (even today), the girl child is being killed even before being born. This is a shame on our society," Singh said addressing the nation from ramparts of the Red Fort while addressing the nation on occasion of its 63rd Independence Day.

"As soon as possible we have to remove this blot. Our progress will be incomplete till women become equal partners in the growth," he added.

According to a recent report by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) up to 50 million girls and women are missing from India' s population as a result of systematic gender discrimination in India. n most countries in the world, there are approximately 105 female births for every 100 males.

In India, there are less than 93 women for every 100 men in the population. The accepted reason for such a disparity is the practice of female infanticide in India, prompted by the existence of a dowry system which requires the family to pay out a great deal of money when a female child is married. For a poor family, the birth of a girl child can signal the beginning of financial ruin and extreme hardship.

However this anti-female bias is by no means limited to poor families. Much of the discrimination is to do with cultural beliefs and social norms. These norms themselves must be challenged if this practice is to stop.

The implication is that by avoiding a girl, a family will avoid paying a large dowry on the marriage of her daughter.

According to UNICEF, the problem is getting worse as scientific methods of detecting the sex of a baby and of performing abortions are improving.

Asserting that the Government was committed towards providing 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament, Dr. Singh said "We are trying to make a law through which women will be given 50 per cent reservation in rural and local bodies so that they get equal representation".

The Bill, which was first introduced in 1996-97, has been repeatedly stalled due to some parties insisting on the introduction of a "quota within quota".

To break the deadlock over the contentious Bill in its present form, which has been opposed by parties like the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Janata Dal (United), the Parliamentary Standing Committee dealing with the issue, has suggested that it should be left to the state legislatures to propose adequate representation in assembly and Lok Sabha for women and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

The reason behind the "compromise formula" was that state legislatures are better placed to decide the extent of representation in elected posts for women and OBCs. (ANI)

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