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An Overview of Gendercide and Daughter Abuse in India:Society for the Protection of the Girl Child

An Overview of Gendercide and Daughter Abuse in India:Society for the Protection of the Girl Child

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A 2005 study in the British medical journal, the Lancet, there are at least 10 Million
fewer girls exist in India today (according to population statistics over the past 20 years). The more recent ActionAid study says the figure is closer to 35 million.
UNICEF calculates the total number of girls missing in India at 50 million.
A 2005 study in the British medical journal, the Lancet, there are at least 10 Million
fewer girls exist in India today (according to population statistics over the past 20 years). The more recent ActionAid study says the figure is closer to 35 million.
UNICEF calculates the total number of girls missing in India at 50 million.

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Published by: paceminterris on Apr 24, 2013
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Society for the Protection of the Girl Child

An Overview of Gendercide and Daughter Abuse in India

The Tragic Facts


Worldwide, the ratio of girls to boys is 1,000 for every 1,005. In India, there are only 914 girls for every 1,000 boys, and often far fewer. A 2009 study by the global anti-poverty agency, ActionAid and the International Development Research Center, for example “found that the gender gap in some parts of the Indian state of Punjab had increased to 300 girls per 1,000 boys - a scenario worse than that revealed in the 2011 census. ActionAid carried out the survey in five states and in all states it found that the proportion of girls to boys had fallen further.”1 A 2005 study in the British medical journal, the Lancet, reports that because of this, at least 10 Million fewer girls exist in India today2 (according to population statistics over the past 20 years). The more recent ActionAid study says the figure is closer to 35 million.3 UNICEF calculates the total number of girls missing in India at 50 million.4 For the most part, researchers and bodies such as the United Nations and the Government of India have stated that this is due to selective-sex abortions, infanticide, deliberate gender-based neglect, and other acts against girl children by their own families. As we shall discuss, researchers have found that the elimination of a female child in India is primarily a socio-economic decision having to do with high dowry and marriage costs. In addition, some religious traditions, the planning of smaller families, and a young mother’s lack of decision-making autonomy also play a role.5 While laws are on the books to combat issues such as selective-sex abortion, as we will review later, they have proven largely ineffective and have led to only a handful of isolated arrests as the practice continues largely unabated. Due in part to the decades-long societally-created gender imbalance, violence against women and girls has become endemic in parts of India, with an 800% increase in reported rape cases nationwide, and many more left unreported.6 Selective-Sex Abortions Every 12 Seconds, A Baby Girl is Aborted in India According to the 2006 UNICEF study, “State of the World’s Children,” in India, 7,000 girls a day are aborted just because they are female. In looking at abortion trends of female fetuses, a study in a Bombay hospital found that 96 percent of female babies were aborted, compared with only a small percentage of male babies.7 The Lancet study finds, “in 80 percent of India’s districts, a higher proportion of boys are born every year than a decade
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 The National, “Female foeticide continues in India as new law falters,” May 20, 2010 New York Times, “India’s Lost Daughters Abortion Toll in Millions” January 9, 2006 ActionAid and the International Development Research Center, “Disappearing Daughters,” 2008 New York Times, “Missing: 50 Million Indian Girls,” November 25, 2005 Numerous Sources. See T.V. Sekher and Neelambar Hatti “Unwanted Daughters: Gender Discrimination in Modern India,” Rawat Publishing, 2010 for a good compilation of research papers on this subject Center for Social Research: “Lethal Combine at Work.” http://www.csrindia.org/index.php/csr/504-lethal-combine-at-work Embassy of India, Addis Ababa Ethiopia: “Places and Spaces: Proceedings of an Indio-Ethiopian Symposium on Women’s Issues,” May 13, 2006


A Growing Tragedy: Ratio of Girls to Boys In India

ago as a result of the growing availability of fetal sex-testing services.”8 In a 2008 report from India’s National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development, it is stated that “declining sex ratio is an issue of grave concern in India. Family and social pressures to produce a son are immense. In most regions, sons are desired for reasons related to kinship, inheritance, marriage, identity, status, economic security and lineage. A preference for boys cuts across caste and class lines and results in discrimination against girls even before they are born. In a gross misuse of the technology that facilitates pre-natal diagnosis of any potential birth defects and associated conditions, female fetuses are selectively aborted after such pre-natal sex determination. This is happening across the country in spite of a massive influx of legal regulations banning the same.”9 “Seven lakh (700,000) girls are killed by parents every year in India even before they are born,” says NHRC (India’s National Human Rights Committee) member and former envoy Satyabrata Pal.“When a
8 9 Source: International Herald Tribune, “More Fetuses Aborted in India, UNICEF Says, December12, 2006 National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development: “A Socio-cultural Study of the Declining Sex Ratio in Delhi and Haryana,” 2008

woman finds she is pregnant, anxieties set in about the sex of the unborn child. Ruthless feticide often follows if tests that are illegal, but easy to get, show it is a girl... While 1.72 million children die in India each year before the age of one, because of our gender bias, the mortality rate is even higher for girls than boys,” he added. 10 Decades of sex determination tests and female foeticide that has acquired genocide proportions are finally catching up with states in India. - UNICEF “[In India] People say, you have two girl children, you have done some sins in your past life.” - BBC News “In some parts of India, one in every five girls is being [killed] at the fetal stage. It is a genocidal situation.” - The Washington Post Infantacide While selective-sex abortion is by far the more popular option, girls in India’s impoverished areas in particular are yet at risk of being disposed of by their families directly after birth. In the 2007 book, “Disappearing Daughters: The Tragedy of Female Foeticide,” investigative reporter, Gita Aravamudan, claims that thousands of girls are killed annually in Kerala alone.11 Another study has found that in Bihar state, midwives are routinely asked to do away with newborn girls.12 How the Babies Die • Lacing their feed with pesticides • Forcing grains of poppy seed or rice husk down their throats • Stuffing their mouths with black salt or urea • Starving them to death • Suffocating them with a wet towel or bag of sand • No or Fewer months of breast feeding. • Rubbing poison on the mother’s breast, so that the baby girl is poisoned as she nurses. • Leaving the baby to die in the fields • Burying the child alive.


“She was thrown in the garbage dump outside the village for dogs that ate her. Her only fault — she was the fourth girl born in a poor family,” said Harshinder Kaur, pediatric doctor here, recalling the first time she witnessed discrimination against female infants in Punjab’s rural side.” (The Hindu- April 16, 2010)13 --“Earlier this year in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, farmer Ram Kumar made a shocking discovery. Sticking out of the earth was a tiny human hand. Barely audible, were the cries of a newborn baby. “There was a girl wrapped in a cloth and buried deep in the ground,” said Ram Kumar. “
10 11 12 13 One World Asia: “India: 700,000 unborn girls killed each year,” 24 January, 2011 Gita Aravamudan, Disappearing Daughters: The Tragedy of Female Foeticide, New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2007, pages 157-159 Gender and Development: ‘Fighting female infanticide by working with midwives: an Indian study,’ vol. 4, no. 2 (1996): The Hindu: “Female infanticide affects sex ratio in Punjab,” April 16, 2010


The baby should not have been alive but somehow it was.” The two-day old baby was rushed to a local hospital to recover from her ordeal. Her grandfather meanwhile confessed to the girl’s attempted murder. With seven daughters to provide for, he claimed he could not afford the burden and expense of having yet another girl in the household.” (BBC- October 22, 2007)14 --“Last month in Ahmedabad, passers-by spotted an apparently dead newborn baby being pulled out of a pile of rubbish by stray dogs at a street-side waste disposal site. From the spot, police soon recovered the remains of eight aborted foetuses and seven newborn babies hidden inside the rubbish. An initial investigation found that they had been secretly dumped by a private hospital in the city, in a grisly case that highlights the persistence of foeticide and infanticide.“ (The National, May 20, 2010)15 Lives at Risk Due to Deliberate Neglect Reports the International Herald Tribune, “Even after birth, girls are at much higher risk of childhood death than boys. Female babies are less likely to survive the first year than their male counterparts, according to UNICEF’s infant mortality research... After birth, son-preference continues to persist leading to the neglect of girls and their lack of access to nutrition, health and maternal care in these critical early years,” the report said.16 According to the clinical paper, “The Unknown Genocide,”17 “if she survives her birth, the girl child in India is faced with discrimination throughout her young years. A study by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences examined health patterns in 85,633 children aged 0–36 months and found startling results that showed a gender bias towards boys. Of children who were hospitalized at least once, 64.6% were boys and only 35.4% were girls. The authors conclude gender bias is likely the only explanation for such a disparity as boys and girls were found to fall sick an equal number of times and with similar severity.18 Studies show male preference in more ways: more boys are immunized than girls; boys are breast-fed longer; girls eat after all of the male family members have finished; girls get less food and what they do get is of poorer nutritious quality; also, mortality related to diarrhoea, respiratory infections and measles is higher among girls than boys.19 To put these factors into perspective, 1.5 million of the 12 million girls born in India each year do not survive to their first birthday and only 9 million will survive to their 15th birthday.”20 Reports the ActionAid study, “In poor rural communities such as Morena (Madhya Pradesh) and Dhaulpur (Rajasthan), deliberately poor post-natal care – such as allowing the umbilical cord to become infected – is being used by desperate families as a way to dispose of daughters. Spending money on healthcare or nutrition for girls is often deemed an unworthy investment. In one village in Rohtak, Haryana, a family with five daughters allowed two of them to die. The opinion expressed to researchers by some of the villagers was that it was ‘good riddance.’”21

14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

BBC Two: Harsh Reality of India’s Unwanted Girls, October 22, 2007 The National, “Female foeticide continues in India as new law falters,” May 20, 2010 International Herald Tribune: “More female fetuses being aborted in India, Unicef says”, December 12, 2006 Molly M Sumner RN MSN, International Journal of Nursing Practice, “The Unknown Genocide,” 2009 Women’s Feature Service, “Hospitals are not for girls,” Jan 12, 2004 Canadian Woman Studies, “Identity of the girl child in south Asia.” 1995 International Herald Tribune, “India still fighting to ‘save the girl child’.”April 15, 2005 Report: ActionAid and the International Development Research Center, “Disappearing Daughters,” 2008


Men and Boys Also Emotionally Impacted According to a study in the March, 2011 Canadian Medical Association Journal, India will see a 10% to 20% excess of young men in the next 20 years, creating a societal imbalance that will also greatly emotionally impact the lives of males. Reports CNN, “the problem with all this researchers say, is that there can be consequences to an imbalanced sex ratio. Many of these men will not marry or have children in a society where marriage is universal. These men, researchers say, may be psychologically vulnerable and prone to depression, aggressive behavior and violence.”22

Says the Study, “First, it has been assumed that the lack of opportunity to fulfill traditional expectations of marrying and having children will result in low self-esteem and increased susceptibility to a range of psychologic difficulties. It has also been assumed that a combination of psychologic vulnerability and sexual frustration may lead to aggression and violence in these men.” “There is good empirical support for this prediction.... Cross-cultural evidence shows that the overwhelming majority of violent crime is perpetrated by young, unmarried, low-status males. Because they may lack a stake in the existing social order, it is feared that they will become bound together in an outcast culture, turning to antisocial behavior and organized crime, thereby threatening societal stability and security.”23 Increasing Instances of Rape and Gender-Based Violence Already Resulting It can be suggested that due at least in part to the widening gender imbalance in India, rape has already become the fastest-growing crime in India, with reported cases up over 800% over the past 40 years.24 While more studies are needed, the dramatic increase of violence can empirically be seen as being in correlation with the legalization of abortion in 1971 and the introduction of selective-sex abortion a few years later. According to a March, 2011 global survey by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), 24% of Indian men have committed sexual violence at some point in their lives, compared with 2% of Brazilian men and 9% of men in Chile.25 If male-female ratios continue to decline, future outlooks are disturbing. Says UNICEF, “experts warn that the demographic crisis will lead to increasing sexual violence and abuse against women and female
22 23 24 25 CNN: “Gender Preference Leads to Imbalance in Asian Countries, March 14, 2011 University College of London Centre for International Health and Development: “The consequences of son preference and sex-selective abortion in China and other Asian countries,” Canadian Medical Association Journal, March 2011 Center for Social Research: “Lethal Combine at Work.” http://www.csrindia.org/index.php/csr/504-lethal-combine-at-work The Times of India: “Indian men lead in sexual violence, worst on gender equality: Study,” March 7, 2011

A Woman forced into a polygamous marriage with her husband and his brother due to the lack of brides in her region. (Bhilwara, Rajisthan, India)


children, trafficking, increasing number of child marriages, increasing maternal deaths due to abortions and early marriages and increase in practices like polyandry.”26 Unwanted Girls Trafficked Into Prostitution And Forced Servitude Prostitution is widespread in India, with an estimated 2,300,000 prostitutes in the country, an estimated 1.2 million of whom are children.27 Many are girls unwanted by their families due to gender discrimination and poverty. “According to Save the Children India, clients now prefer 10- to 12-year-old girls. The soaring number of prostitutes believed to have contracted HIV in India’s brothels has helped give India the second-largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world, just behind South Africa.”28 The Majority of Children Trafficked into Prostitution/Servitude Hail From: • • • • • Andhra Pradesh – Adilabad, Kurmul, Enadi Karnataka – Belgaum, Raichur Tamil Nadu – Madurai, Coimbatore Bihar- Dhanbad, Dumka, Sahebganj, Ranchi, Purnea West Bengal – Murshidabad, Nadia, Jalpaiguri

In addition, girls are being sold into slavery as bonded laborers, forced to work under brutal conditions in cotton fields, farms, factories, and other industries. The United Nation’s International Labour Organization estimates that 218 million Indian children were involved in child labour in 2004, of whom 126 million were engaged in hazardous work. Estimates from 2000 suggest that 5.7 million were in forced or bonded labour, 1.8 million in prostitution and pornography and 1.2 million were victims of trafficking.29 “[There are regular reports of] verbal abuse and physical violence by the employers, and a report of the brutal rape and killing of two minor girls in Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh. Girls forced to work in farms are being exposed to very dangerous chemicals that can cause severe headaches, nausea, weakness, convulsions and breathing problems. Child deaths due to pesticide exposure were also reported.”30 Why This is Happening Dowries According to a study by Williams College Department of Economics and the World Bank Development Research Group, “the average dowry with the expenses for the marriage celebration can amount to three to four times a family’s total assets. Thus, if there are an excess of daughters
26 27 28 29 30 UNICEF: “Female Foeticide in India,” 2006 CNN: Official: More than 1M child prostitutes in India, May 11, 2009 New Internationalist Magazine, “Liberating sex slaves in India,” June 2, 2006 International Labour Organization: “End of Child Labor Within Reach,” 2007 Commissioned Study by India Committee of Netherlands, OECD et al, “Child Bondage Continues in Indian Cotton Supply Chain,” September 2007


to be married, parents could go into life-long debt. Under these circumstances, parents often are not able to pay the dowry necessary to find a suitable match. Social tradition also says that a father’s responsibility to a daughter is over once she is married. Thus, if a bride enters her husband’s home without an adequate dowry having been paid, she has to face the wrath of her husband and in-laws.” While the practice of dowry giving is traditional in many parts of India, other regions, such as rural Karnataka, have only seen the practice introduced in the past 30 years, to the detriment of the birth and survival rates of girls. “The dowry payment includes cash, gold, silver and expensive consumer items

like TV and refrigerators, and in many cases a vehicle, preferably a car or motorbike. A portion of the land and property is also transferred from the girl’s family to the boy’s. Apart from all this, it is a wellestablished norm among all communities that all expenditures for conducting the marriage have to be born by the girl’s family... A village woman appropriately summarized the situation, ‘whenever the price of gold goes up, the value of the girl goes down.”31 Fear of Future Dowry Deaths and Harassment Compounding the problem, and thus increasing the threat to India’s girl child, is the future specter of inlaws continuing to harass the new wife’s family for additional dowry once she has joined the household. If additional requests are not met, the wife is prone to abuse, to being evicted from the household, or worse, to being murdered in what is commonly called a “dowry death.” Says The Telegraph, “India’s National Family Health Survey has shown that dowry-related deaths and violence have actually increased since the Domestic Violence Prevention Act of 2006.”32 There were 8,172 Dowry Deaths in India in 2008 alone, according to India’s National Crime Bureau (see Table 1). The figure does not cover unreported deaths, of which there are estimated to be many more. The practice of dowry giving has been outlawed in India since 1961, yet, it continues unabated as a cultural norm, thus putting many lives, born and unborn at continued risk. Ultrasound Technology Makes Abortion Easy Says the televised PBS investigative journalism series, Frontline, “Ultrasound machines have been big business in India, bringing in about $77 million in 2006, a 10% rise from the previous year.”33 The Times of London reports, “All over India, since the 1980s when the country was flooded with cheap ultrasound technology, this mobile killing machine, wielded by doctors with no ethics, has been doing its
31 32 33 International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai: “From Fertility Control to Gender Control,” 2005 The Telegraph: “Survey of Shame,” March 13, 2011 Frontline, “Rough Cut: India: The Missing Girls,“ 2007


lethal work. Villages may not have clean drinking water or electricity, but they have access to ultrasound tests. Some clinics in towns load the machine onto a van, along with a generator, and go to remote towns offering sex-selection services. In some villages, no girl has been born for years.”34 A Problem Among the Wealthy “Normally in public health, the poor are worse off,” said Prabhat Jha, an epidemiology professor at the University of Toronto and lead author of the Lancet study, “but here we have the rich and educated that are more often performing sex selections. And that is entirely consistent with being able to afford and have access to ultrasound technology.”35 The Christian Science Monitor reports the numbers gap is most drastic in wealthier areas where people can afford to have sonograms, or sex-determination tests. “In the prosperous farming district of Kurukshetra, for instance, there are only 770 girl babies for every 1,000 boys.”36 Kamaljeet Gill, Professor of Economics at Punjabi University, said: “Even today, birth of a girl child is viewed as a bad investment for future but the poor still find the cost of raising a child to be nominal with respect to the income that the child might generate and also they cannot afford the cost of tests and abortion. The reform needs to begin with the prosperous, educated class which abort a female child due to their narrow patriarchal view, where sons are considered to be the only hope of old age and even after life.”37 Ineffective Law Enforcement While laws do exist in India to prevent selective-sex tests and abortions, they are ineffectual at best. According to the BBC, “Sex selection tests and abortion on the basis of gender have been banned for 15 years in India. But the law has simply forced the trade underground. UN figures state that 750,000 girls are aborted every year in India.”38 Says Professor Gill, “Statutory laws such as the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and The Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques [Regulation and Prevention of Misuse] Act are not enforced strictly and doctors convicted open their clinics again.”39 Said P. Padmanagha, former Registrar General and Census Unwanted girls”, Living in a School Commissioner of India, “there is a reluctance to rigorously enforce for Homeless Children (Bangalore, India) the laws or to insist that they may be enforced. We are all aware of the reasons. These range from corruption to political reluctance to induce social change.”40 “In Punjab, a state with the most disparate gap between boys and girls in India, only one doctor has
34 35 36 37 38 39 40 The Times of London, “Brothers are Sharing the Same Woman,” June 22, 2004 Star Ledger: “Gender as a Life or Death Issue,” January, 2011 Christian Science Monitor, “Gender selection: In India, abortion of girls on the rise,” March 8, 2010 The Hindu: “Female infanticide tells on sex ratio in Punjab,” April 16, 2010 BBC Two: Harsh Reality of India’s Unwanted Girls, October 22, 2007 The Hindu: “Female infanticide tells on sex ratio in Punjab,” April 16, 2010 “Unwanted Daughters: Gender Discrimination in Modern India,” Edited by T.V. Sekher and Neelamber Hatti, Rawat Publications, 2010


been convicted in the past four years of performing a sex-selective abortion, according to V.K. Goyal, a senior Punjabi health official. The convicted doctor’s medical license was suspended for five years and he was fined 400 rupees, about $10.”41 While the situation looks grim in many states, it has been proven that through a change in mental outlooks (which can be brought forth through the education of officials) law enforcement attitudes can be changed for the positive. Says UNICEF, “Arvind Kumar, the collector of Hyderabad district has illustrated the power of the [anti sex-selective abortion act]. Hyderabad had the lowest child sex ratio (0-6 years) in Andhra Pradesh. After taking over in 2004, he tracked down all 389 diagnostic clinics in the city and took action. 361 ultrasound scan centres were issued notices for non compliance with the PNDT Act. Licenses of 91 centres were cancelled. 83 machines were seized and 71 released after an undertaking and fine. Three suppliers were prosecuted for supplying machines to clinics with no registration licenses.”42 Cultural and Religious Factors The birth of a daughter connotes what some families commonly call a “double loss.” The daughter will cost money to bring up, and the dowry and wedding ceremony, as we discussed, will additionally drain family finances. After marriage, the daughter will leave the natal household to serve her husband’s family. Knowing she will eventually depart their nest, parents fear they will have no security in their old age if they do not have a son. Says Census Commissioner, P. Padmanagha, “the social and family pressures on the woman for early pregnancy after marriage and for a son can be stifling, often leading to violence, neglect and personal criticism. The long-term psychological and health effect on a woman due to these pressures, and particularly if she does not have a son, could be disastrous. Therefore, when we consider this issue of an adverse sex ratio among children, we should also ask ourselves if women have much choice in the situation.”43 Outside of economic conditions, in terms of religion, it cannot be avoided that male dominance in many religious ritual and practice, such as Hindu funeral rites and priestly services, leads to a higher value being placed on sons. A common blessing on a Hindu woman’s wedding day is in Sanskrit, “May you be the mother of a hundred sons.” At the same time, according to research, many people think it is only a minor sin-- or no sin at all-- to abort or kill a girl baby.44 Smaller, Planned Families Further compounding the problem is India’s declining fertility rate, due to modern families choosing to have less children. Many couples are thus planning for at least one son if they are to have an average of two children, often to the detriment of unborn daughters, especially if the particular birth is planned as the last one and the family remains without a boy.

41 42 43 44

Star Ledger: “Gender as a Life or Death Issue,” January, 2011 http://savedaughters19.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/star-ledger-gender-as-a-life-or-death-issue/ UNICEF India Media Center, “Female Feoticide in India” http://www.unicef.org/india/media_3285.htm “Unwanted Daughters: Gender Discrimination in Modern India,” Edited by T.V. Sekher and Neelamber Hatti, Rawat Publications, 2010 LA Times: “The Fight to Save India’s Baby Girls” John Thor Dhalburg, February 22, 1994|


Deception People who traffic young girls from their families so that they can be used as forced laborers or prostitutes operate in a very organized manner. Some of the techniques used by them are45: • Coming to the family of the victim as well-wishers. • Seeking the help of a local person or contact to approach the victim’s family. • Making contacts with unsuspecting women and children at bus stands and railway stations. • Making friends with children while at play or in school. • Approaching poverty-stricken families and persuading them into parting with their child. This is how they get the parents to sell their children. • Luring women and children with false promises of well-paid jobs or marriage with rich men. • Forcing the parents to sell their child in order to meet their debts. • Using false documents and passports to traffic people from one country to another. • Paying bribes to the officials to procure false documents or escape from legal entangles. In addition, according to a Times of India report, 60% of girls in the classical entertainment industry later are forced into prostitution. What Can be Done The killing, willful neglect, and trafficking of girl children in India is a national tragedy, NGOs, the Indian government, legislation, and international bodies alone have not been as effective as hoped in improving the situation. Much of the reason is that the problem is societal, and requires an overall, long-term, and multi-targeted campaign to change the attitudes of parents and future parents. Education and Exposure to the Media “Single Most Significant Factor” According to research, education and exposure to messages from the media are “the single most significant factor in reducing son preference. Educated women are less likely to prefer sons over daughters, and highly educated women are especially less likely to do so... Access to media and cinema yields a similar result: Greater exposure to various sources of media is significantly associated with weaker son preference. That this is so, after taking into account education and wealth, suggests that access to “modern” information and ways of life can contribute to making women’s preferences more egalitarian.”46 Agents of Change India’s religious leaders, working alongside NGO, international, governmental, civil society, and media partners, are uniquely poised to enact comprehensive and lasting change through a combination of targeted media exposure, educational outreach and social service programs. The Society for the
45 46 Terre des Hommes International Federation- India Program, “Child Trafficking in India,” 2001. International Center for Research on Women, “Son Preference and Daughter Neglect in India,” 2006 report


Protection of the Girl Child will facilitate such work through progressive partnerships and meaningful outreach. Why the Recruitment of Religious Leaders and Religious Communities is of Key Importance As UNICEF states in its report, from Commitment to Action47, “With their extraordinary moral authority, religious leaders are able to influence thinking, foster dialogue, and set priorities for members of their communities. They are frequently in positions to advocate for social and legal change. As those who are often the first to respond to problems, they have the trust and confidence of individuals, families and communities.” “With almost 5 billion people belonging to religious communities, their leaders’ potential for action is substantial. From the smallest village to the largest city, through districts and provinces to national and international levels, religious communities offer large networks for the care and protection of children and the safeguarding of their rights.” “The scale and extent of violence against children provides a compelling and urgent call to religious communities to take action and to be actively involved in advocacy and policy-making to eliminate all forms of violence against children.” The Society for the Protection of the Girl Child has been formed in order to organize, motivate, and educate India’s religious leaders in order to bring about progressive and lasting change on behalf of India’s daughters, born and unborn.


UNICEF and Religions for Peace, “From Commitment to Action: What Religious Communities can do to Eliminate Violence Against Children,” February, 2010


Society for the Protection of the Girl Child
www.protectgirls.org info@protectgirls.org

© 2011, Society for the Protection of the Girl Child

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