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The decline of the girl child in India is a problem of deep-rooted societal discrimination against women and girls; one that has found foothold in the proliferation of cheap and readily accessible sex determination technologies, such as sonograms and ultrasounds. Through foeticide, infanticide and the intentional neglect of girls and young women, the women of India are fast disappearing. Also, decades-old government population programmes intended to encourage family planning and the “two-child norm”, have correlatively encouraged sex selective elimination (SSE), eroding the value of the girl child, and stripping women of their reproductive decision- making power. In some of the worst affected areas, such as the states of Punjab and Haryana, the scarcity of women is so acute that women and girls from impoverished outlying states are trafficked in the purpose of marriage.
The problem continues to be ignored today; more than a decade after the first national legislation on sex selection was passed in 1994. In 2001, brief renewed interest in the country’s deteriorating Child Sex Ratio (CSR) was sparked off after Amartya Sen publicly noted that the figures in the 2001 Census showed a dramatic worsening of the situation, especially in the country’s worst affected districts.
Thus a concerted campaign to end sex selection demands that India’s civil society enhance its pressure on the government to take action to curtail the misuse of preconception and prenatal technologies, and to regulate to behaviorism of those seeking profit from the industry. It is imperative that a campaign to address sex selection recognizes the necessity of reformulating and changing the population control strategy with the goal of seeking the targeted gender balance strategies. Finally, education, public awareness, and promoting the value of the girl child in a small family will play a critical role in bringing about an end to the problem of SSE.