Awareness against female foeticide in Odisha

Berhampur: Alarmed at sharp fall in child sex ratio in Ganjam district of Odisha, the adminsitration has decided to engage members of the gram panchayat, women self-help groups (SHG), health workers and folk artists to create awareness in rural areas against female foeticide and pre-natal sex determination.

"Leaders of Daughters", a year-long programme has already been launched in the district with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) to raise awareness against female foeticide.

"We have already sensitised the elected representatives in district and block levels and anganwadi workers in all 22 blocks," a district officer said.

"Now we will go to the panchayat level to sensitise sarapanches, ward members and SHG members," district collector Krishan Kumar said adding folk artist groups would also be engaged to raise awareness on the need to protect girl children and the ill effects of female foeticide.

The district administration has also decided to sensitise doctors against female foeticide and pre-natal diagnostic as they play a significant role in this regard. At the same time, the administration would also implement the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act strictly to curb illegal abortion, the collector said.

The collector has also suggested tracking of all pregnant women whose first and second children were girls.

Families need to be counseled properly against female foeticide, he stressed.

The programme has assumed significance as child sex ratio in the district has declined alarmingly in the last several years. The child sex ratio (population of girls against 1000 boys in the age group between 0-6 years) in the district stood at 952 in 1991, but it declined to 939 in 2001. The ratio has further gone down to 899 in 2011, the latest census report reveals.

Ganjam is the fourth district in the state after Nayagarh (851), Dhenkanal (870) and Angul (884), where the child sex ratio stands below 900. Child sex ratio in Odisha as a whole stands at 934 in 2011.