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Indian authorities operate “Girl Protection Scheme”


Summary of story from BBC, May 23, 2011

A Girl Protection Scheme is being operated by the Indian government to help fight female foeticide (see WVoN story).

Under Kanya Suraksha Yojana, the state invests 2,000 rupees in a fund in the name of a girl, with documentation to prove her enrolment.

The savings grow with the child and officials say it will be worth ten times as much once she reaches 18.

These savings are to help pay for a dowry, wedding or college.

The initiative – which was announced in November 2007 –  is only available to those living below the poverty line and a family can enrol just two daughters.

It is thought this will help make baby girls wanted in society, while at the same time advocating small families.

In rural, male-dominated Bihar for example, women have very low status. Yet rich or poor, no one is exempt from the dowry system, which almost everyone agrees is the reason baby girls are not celebrated.

“People here feel very sorry when a girl child is born,” says Rafay Eajaz Hussain, of the Public Health Resource Network.

“To change that, the Government has announced some good policies for the girl child. They are given books and uniform allowances and when a girl reaches the 9th grade she gets a free bicycle.”

Yet Irina Sinha – an official of the state government-run Women’s Development Corporation – says the problem of female foeticide is more prominent in the middle class and affluent families, as urban areas have more access to technology than their rural counterparts.

An ultrasound scan costs a few hundred rupees and there is zero paperwork to avoid leaving any proof, as abortions are only legal for 12 weeks, while the sex can only be determined after 14.

The parents are never given anything in writing – the gender of the foetus is often conveyed by signs – a tap on the side of the nose signifies a nose-ring (or girl) while a twirl of the moustache is meant to be a boy.

Mr Hussain, however, remains sceptical about the initiatives being put in place, “Small steps will not help. We need a revolution. And I’m not seeing that coming through.”

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