Churches can promote value of women to fight sex-selective termination: ADF India

Published 26 July 2019  |  
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Around 132 villages in Uttarakhand in northern India are suspected to have carried out sex-selective abortions since April, raising concerns about girl-child birth.

Twenty-five years ago, gender-based abortion was legally banned in India. Nonetheless, reports from the district of Uttarakhand show that among 216 newborns, not a single girl was born.

In the last 2011 census that was conducted in India, there was a complete drastic decline in the child sex ratio between the age group of zero to six years in India, with only 918 girls for every thousand boys, according to Anushree Bernard, a member from the Vanishing Girls campaign. The campaign by ADF International, a faith-based legal advocacy organization that protects fundamental freedom, is striving to put an end to the killing of girls child in the womb.

While sons are traditionally believed to support the family, daughters are considered a burden, especially when it comes to marriage. According to Bernard, the financial pressure that a girl would bring on the family is leading many families to kill the child even before birth.

"When a girl gets married, the girl's family has to pay a certain amount as gifts to the son in law in return for the marriage. The fathers always have this thought in the back of their head about how they have to pay a dowry," Bernard explained.

The system of dowry was abolished long back but many Indians still practice it illegally as part of the tradition.

Bernard came across women who feel India is an unsafe place for girls. They do not want another girl being born in the negative atmosphere and be under continuous pressure and burden of age-old traditions.

In terms of what role a church can play in preserving the rights of unborn child, Bernard shared, "The Church should be vocal about raising awareness among congregation members and also in the larger community about the importance of girls in the families about having daughters in your family, about respecting women, not only in the family but in schools and churches and workplaces.

"If a girl is born and she's not accepted by the parents, then providing shelter and safe spaces for those children, providing shelter homes. Church should be the safe space where women and girls can go and find shelter and peace and restoration," Bernard added.

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