Strengthening Survival and Development of the Girl Child in Rajasthan
CFAR initiated work in Rajasthan with a project Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act: Strengthening Implementation in Rajasthan in 2005. The focus was on raising consciousness on the issue of declining child sex ratio among NGOs, by motivating them to act decisively and concertedly to address the issue. Given the urgency, it was essential to sensitize and build the capacity of NGOs and civil society organizations to take ownership of the issue, leverage the PCPNDT Act and make every stakeholder mutually accountable and responsive. It was also important to create local leadership and social pressure on the survival of the girl child.
Setting a Collective Agenda
As a first step CFAR organized residential training workshops on the PCPNDT Act in Jaipur, Udaipur and Bikaner for NGOs working on issues related to women and children, authorities responsible for implementing the Act, representatives of State and Central Government, lawyers and medical practitioners. In the process CFAR reached out to 70 NGOS of 28 districts through capacity building and sensitization workshops. A group of organizations who were ready to engage with and work on the implementation of the PCPNDT Act in Rajasthan were also identified.
In the workshops the following themes were covered
In the sessions on the relationship between MTP and PCPNDT Act, various provisions of the Acts were closely examined. Experts on sexual and reproductive rights spoke in depth about the MTP Act and its safeguards for women’s right to abortion, interpretation of the law to ensure that they are located in the wider context of gender rights. This was important so that the struggle against sex determination and sex selection does not jeopardize women’s right to abortion.
After laying this groundwork the provisions of the PCPNDT Act were discussed in detail. The law was demystified and the provisions were collectively examined. The participants were trained on using the law to regulate the ethical use of ultrasound. The skill in collecting evidence from clinics, conducting medical audits and strengthening evidence for investigations was also honed.
CFAR also explored spaces where civil society can be pro-active on the PCPNDT law. They were informed about the role of investigative authorities, powers vested in Appropriate Authorities and the Advisory Committees. They learnt about the role that self-help groups, health-service providers and elected representatives can play in enforcing the law, changing people’s mindset and understanding the impact of gender determinants in strengthening the legal advocacy.
The State Appropriate Authority and 32 District Appropriate Authorities (CMHO) were also oriented on the PCPNDT Act and its implementation. In addition support was also elicited from experts such as demographers, health care professionals, senior officials from the State and Centre, legal professionals, child rights activists, human rights and women’s organizations working with the community. An interface with the National Commission for Women, State Women’s Commission and district magistrates was also created to strengthen advocacy.
Having built the capacity and commitment of many NGOs to actively engage with the law and sensitizing the implementing authorities on their responsibilities and obligations as stipulated by the law, CFAR moved from being capacity-building partner to facilitating a multi-stakeholder, district wide initiative to implement the PCPNDT Act. CFAR partnered with seven leading NGOs from Alwar, Barmer, Bharatpur, Bhilwara, Jaisalmer, Jhunjunu, and Sirohi to make all the stakeholders in these districts not only familiar with the PCPNDT Act but also accountable for its effective, consistent and timely implementation.
“I visited three ultrasound clinics in Sirohi district and discovered that a hospital in Mount Abu was unregistered. As a member of the District Advisory Committee, I wrote to the District Appropriate Authority and requested him to call an Advisory Committee meeting, also enquired about the number of registered machines. However, after this episode four more machines were registered in Sirohi district.” – Brij Kishore,SARD Training Workshop- 12-14 December 2005, Udaipur, Rajasthan