Guess the biggest challenge doctors face in a few Indian cities? It is not telling the relatives that the patient has died, but to tell the families that they’d a daughter.
Coming across the same scenario year after year, a doctor from Pune has come forward with a mission to save female children through Mulgi Vachva Abhiyan (which translates from Marathi into ‘Save the Girl Child Campaign’) and has started a hospital where he waves his fee if a girl child is born.
Dr. Ganesh Rakh, in an exclusive interview with Life Beyond Numbers, says, “It is disheartening to see how certain families respond when a girl child is born in the hospital. It is like a doomsday for them.” Dr. Ganesh is the founder of Medicare Hospital in Pune which is functioning since 2007 and is working to decrease the rate of female foeticide in India. Till today the hospital has done 1280 free deliveries and the numbers are increasing.
India’s Skewed Sex Ratio
The Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) is the number of girls born for every 1,000 boys. This Niti Ayog report shows that-
- SRB at the national level had dropped from 906 in 2012-2014 to 900 in 2013-2015.
- 17 of 21 large Indian States saw a drop in the SRB with Gujarat performing the worst registering a decline by 53 points.
In Gujarat, the drop is to a shocking 854 girls against 1,000 boys from 907 girls in the earlier count.
According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2016, India ranks 87 in gender parity and it is shocking that there are 63 million missing women and 21 million unwanted girls in the country. Due to the skewed sex ratio in India, gender-related discrimination has increased as well.
“It was high time that instead of talking and posting on social media and wallowing in pity about the condition of women in the country, we do things which will create a positive impact on the mindset of people.”
Rallies were organized in different cities to create awareness about the most pressing problem of India- Female foeticide and infanticide but Dr, Ganesh says, “We realized that the issue has got attention but there was not enough action.”
Why the educated people are at fault?
It is surprising that the educated people- people living in cities- the urban population have contributed the most in killing a girl child while she is in the womb. Why? Because it is less messy than killing a girl child after she is born.
So what about the rural population? How are they killing the girl child? Most of the people belonging to the rural belt of India do not have education and therefore, they do not know what contraception is. Therefore, family planning is an alien concept for them.
Dr. Ganesh says, “ Whenever a pregnant woman comes to our hospital, all her relatives would come with the hope that the child will be a boy.” Adding to this he says, “If a girl child is born instead, the mother starts crying, the father of the child or the relatives beat her and in most of the cases, after they go out of the hospital, they either throw the girl child in the dustbin, garbage or they if the girl child is sick they won’t spend a penny, which ultimately results in her death.”
Free counseling for Pregnant Women
Whenever a pregnant woman comes to this hospital for a check-up, counseling is provided to them. “Our fight is not only restricted to save the girl from foeticide or infanticide, but we also want these families to understand that there is no difference between a male and female child.”
“Whenever a male child is born, it is like a celebration. Sweets are distributed to the staffs and there is smile on the face of family members but the moment a girl child is born, certain families ask for discounts, mothers would cry and at times they are blamed and beaten for giving birth to a female child.”
It is sad but true that the mindset towards a girl child in India speaks volumes about the status of women in the society.
“I am happy today many educational institutes and private coaching centers have joined our cause and they provide free education to the needy girls,” he says.
Apart from that, the cycle repair centers in our area repair the cycle parts for free if they see an underprivileged girl child having trouble with the cycle while going to school. Dr. Ganesh says, “This is what we need. Only a change in the mindset can create a positive change in the society.”
Why “Mulgi Vachva Abhiyan” is effective?
It was on January 3, 2012, when Dr. Ganesh Rakh decided to fight the female foeticide and infanticide by launching Mulgi Vachva Abhiyan. Now about 1.4 lakhs doctors from across the nation have joined the cause and this has minimalized the killing of girl children to an extent in India.
Dr. Ganesh has been delivering girl child for free in his hospital for last 7-8 years. Apart from waving his fees, he also takes care of their medical expenses so that a girl is not thrown into the garbage after she is born.
On asking how the hospital is functioning, he says, “I do charge money from others, consulting fees, OPD, for surgeries, but not for delivering a female child and we bear her medical expenses as well. Therefore, we do not have any issues regarding the smooth functioning of the hospital but help by any means is always welcome because it contributes to our cause.”
“We are not against male children. It is not like we don’t love them. What we want to promote is equality, so that there is no gender gap in the society and irrespective of their gender, everyone gets equal opportunities,” he adds.
In case you find difficult to believe the gravity of the situation, ask yourself and the women around you- Do you feel safe and loved in a country that prefers killing its daughters at birth?