Pawar's daughter on anti-female foeticide mission



Mumbai: Alarmed over the fall in child sex ratio in rural Maharashtra, NCP MP Supriya Sule is on a mission to save the girl child and wants the government to increase the quantum of punishment for those indulging in female foeticide.

"The issue of female foeticide needs discussion and debate in every home, on every dining table. People should realise that it is a stigma to kill your child," she said.

"We will ask the government to increase the quantum of punishment for offenders. Not only the quantum should be more, but also immediate effective action is needed to curb the evil practice," Sule, daughter of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, told a news agency.

The newly-released provisional Census 2011 data showed that fewer girls are born in rural areas than in urban.

The child sex ratio, which indicates the number of girls born per 1,000 boys, has fallen from 916 in rural Maharashtra to 880, a drop of 36 points. In contrast, the child sex ratio in urban Maharashtra has dipped from 908 to 888 in the last decade.

"The issue is close to my heart, because I am the only child of my parents, who chose family planning at a time, when nobody talked about it. I was never brought up any differently than the boys. I feel my father is an ideal icon for this programme (drive against female foeticide)," she said.

Sule announced that she would go on a padayatra between August 25 and 28 to raise awareness on saving the girl child.

Asked if she had asked other parties to join the campaign, she said, "I have written to every MLA and MP to join the padyatra and support the cause."

"It is a shame that despite Maharashtra being one of the most developed states in India, such practices exist. I have spoken with the HRD ministry to have a debate and poster contest among college students on the issue," she said.

"Today's youth are tomorrow's parents. Let them say that they will opt for sonography for health reasons and not for finding out the child's gender," she said.

Asked what prompted her to undertake this mission, Sule said, "I have been monitoring the fall in girl child numbers in my own district." Another motivating factor was news of several female foetuses found in drain in Beed district, she said.

"On one hand, we say India is a roaring tiger in the 21st century and on the other hand, we see these things."

The NCP MP also said that she met the Chief Minister, Deputy CM, Home minister, Rural Development minister and senior officials, seeking their intervention in curbing this practice. "I felt doctors also need to be involved in the initiative," she said.

"We are trying to develop this programme with help of everybody, the government and NGOs. We are looking at the next five to 10 years.

The government is doing all it can to curb the practice, but only making legislation won't help as this is an emotional social issue, she said.

"At the same time, I don't want a woman to lose her right for abortion. Let us not confuse the two issues. A woman should have her right to have an abortion if she chooses to. This is not to be connected to the gender issue," Sule said.

"It could be in a rape case or if she becomes pregnant by mistake or cannot afford to have a child or if the child dies in her womb. Then she should have that option," she added.

PTI