Celebrating birth of a girl
The Centre for Advocacy and Research carried out a campaign “Let Girls Be Born” in Deoli, Madangir, Nangal Raya and Sagarpur areas of Delhi to address the issue of sex selective abortion.
The project, supported by Plan India, focused on strengthening the community for upholding rights of girl child. The initiative was carried out from February 2011 to October 2013.
The purpose was to establish a successful model that can be scaled up at the state and national level. This was to be done by not only strengthening the PCPNDT Act, but by also creating a strong community safety net and support system.
The thrust of the project was on developing a model municipal ward with indicators like 100 percent birth registration of new born babies, ensuring that birth registration becomes regular and all government schemes to promote girl child reaches the people on ground.
It involved timely implementation, constant supervision and monitoring of reaching out programmes and activities.
About 39 community-based support groups were encouraged to hold regular meetings to spread awareness against domestic violence and forced sex selective elimination.
Initially, it was not easy to change the attitude and mindsets of people and even of officials.
But various initiatives, including media consultations, several meetings with the community and stakeholders, helped in changing perceptions.
CFAR has a long history of working for raising consciousness on the problem of sex determination and its repercussion in terms of the sharp decline in child sex ratio and correcting it. It has been on the job since 2005 on building awareness about the falling child sex ratio which dropped to an appalling 926 girls for every 1000 boys in 2001 census.
CFAR facilitated the groups, which also included representatives of government bodies, self help groups, ASHA and ANMs, youth and other community representatives, to understand their strengths and limitations and developed a Resource Manual for support groups and advocacy groups carrying operational guidelines, their roles and responsibilities and an information booklet with details of stakeholders.
Training sessions conducted by master trainers helped in lucid dissemination of information that is crucial for any project to succeed.
The effort was backed by the constant support provided by CFAR to the groups. This included getting access to birth certificate and other documents.
It was ensured that birth of every girl child is celebrated in the community and groups were encouraged to make their own contributions for these functions called Balika Janmotsavs.
A major part of the three year initiative was to explain to the people about the negative impact of sex selective abortions on women’s health.
Around 150 youngsters participated in a flash mob at popular Dilli Haat during ‘One billion Rising’ campaign on February 14, 2012.
Fifty six meetings touching 631 people, 486 females and 145 males, were held in new blocks.
Street plays were performed on 70 platforms reaching out to 4,465 persons more than half of which were males.
Twenty two civil society functions, seven seminars and 50 schools participated in the multi-tiered activities aimed at highlighting the problem and addressing the issue that has created major imbalance in the society.
CFAR has ensured that the 39 community-based support groups comprises of members who have suffered violence themselves and are aware about how to handle it. Most of the women in the group are in the age group of 25 to 55.
They are either members of mahila panchyats, kirtan mandalis and anganwadis.
The difference these campaigns made could be witnessed on the ground.
Within a couple of weeks there was a marked change in the attitude of the community to the issue of sex selection and sex determination and birth registration.
They were talking openly about the issue and acknowledging the fact that these were issues that they have to discuss and learn more about.
They also discussed why women went for ultrasound tests and during one of these meeting three women from Nangal Raya admitted that they had undergone sex determination tests. One of them in fact said that the doctor had even offered to reveal the sex of the foetus to her.
At a meeting with youth in Old Nagal, in South West district, youth acknowledged the fact that girls were missing in their settlement and one of them spoke of a household that has not had any girls for several generations.
They also revealed the names of hospitals/clinics that are openly carrying out sex determination tests.
During a meeting with young girls, Sarita, a resident of Madangir, who had been working in a private nursing home, spoke of how the doctor had told her to dispose a seven‐month‐old female foetus.
She said she felt so disturbed after seeing the foetus that she left the job even though the doctor went to the extent of offering her a higher salary saying. “Mein ish paap mein bhagi nahi banugi”
Following one such meeting 20 people from Madangir volunteered to reach out and motivate the community to value the girl child by mobilizing people, organizing meetings and initiating dialogues with community on the rights of the girl child and illegality of sex selection and sex determination.
One of them was Devaki, from A‐block of Madangir, who has six grand‐daughters from three sons. But she has never forced the daughter‐in‐laws to do sex determination tests.
At the end of the intervention, it was seen that the community took a lead in safeguarding the rights of a girl child.