Kashmir's missing girls: A monumental challenge of female foeticide

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Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing a monumental challenge on missing girls as a result of female foeticide. An explosive report released by the Asian Centre for Human Rights titlted, Missing girls: J&K's biggest challenge after insurgency, " says that the Child Sex Ratio fell by drastic 79 points to 862 in 2011 from 941 in 2001 as technology enabling pre-conception and pre-natal sex determination and sex selective abortion became easily available.

Kashmir's missing girls: A monumental challenge of female foeticide

ACHR stated that as per 2011 census, the Muslim dominated districts of J&K had witnessed unprecedented decline in the CSR than the non-Muslim dominated districts.

The CSR of Pulwama district with 95.4% Muslims declined by 210 points from 1046 in 2001 to 836 in 2011; the CSR of Budgam district with 97.6% Muslim population declined by 172 points from 1004 in 2001 to 832 in 2011; the CSR of Kupwara district with 94.5% Muslim population declined by 167 points from 1021 in 2001 to 854 in 2011; the CSR of Ganderbal district with 97.7% Muslim population declined by 151 points from 1014 in 2001 to 863 in 2011; the CSR of Shopian district with 98.5% Muslim population declined by 128 points from 1011 in 2001 to 883 in 2011; and the CSR of Kulgam district with 98.5% Muslim population of 98.5% declined by 121 points from 1003 in 2001 to 882 in 2011.

As per 2001 census, these six districts had more females than males in the age group of 0-6 years which exposes sex selection during 2001 to 2011.

Lack of seriousness:

The report blamed the lack of any seriousness on the part of the state government for the missing girls as a result of female foeticide despite the practice of the dowry which has to be paid by the groom at the time of marriage which legally becomes bride's property by the Muslim majority in contrast to the dowry practiced by the Hindus.

Though India enacted the Preconception and Pre-natal Sex Selection/Determination (Prohibition & Regulation) Act in 1994, the State of Jammu & Kashmir enacted the J&K Preconception and Pre-natal Sex Selection/ Determination (Prohibition & Regulation) Act only in 2002.

Further, the J&K state rules for implementation of the PC & PNDT Act were notified only on December 7, 2006. Effectively despite the rampant use of technology for sex selection since its wide spread use from mid 1980s, there was no law to prohibit sex selection in the State till December 2006.

As on date, only one conviction was secured in J&K under the PC&PNDT Act. The scheme launched by the state government in June 2011 to give cash reward of Rs 25,000, which has since been increased to Rs 50,000, to anyone providing information with evidence on female foeticide has been a non-starter in the absence of any guidelines for implementation of the scheme.

ACHR also stated that not a single disbursement has been made as on date under the Ladli Beti scheme launched by J&K Government on pilot basis in six districts with low child sex ratio namely Jammu, Kathua, Samba, Anantnag, Budgam and Pulwama in September 2015 and Srinagar and Kishtwar districts in July 2016. Bali Bhagat, Minister of Social Welfare Department of J&K stated before the J&K legislative council on June 6, 2016, that a total of 2,244 beneficiaries were identified under the Ladli Beti scheme but not a single disbursement was made to any beneficiary.

Since July 2016, the Kashmir division faced intermittent shut downs in protest against the killing of insurgent Burhan Wani of the Hijbul Mujahideen in an encounter on July 8, 2016. Obviously, implementation of the scheme has been the least priority and possibility since July 2016.

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