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Juvenile sex ratio falling, female foeticide rising

By R. Ilangovan

SALEM, JAN. 12. The rapidly falling juvenile sex ratio (JSR of 0-6) is a pointer to the rising female foeticide in Tamil Nadu, particularly in Salem, Dharmapuri, Namakkal, Madurai, Dindigul, Theni and Karur districts, according to social scientists.

At a two-day sensitisation exercise on the social fall-out of the adverse sex ratio, non-governmental organisations called for a comprehensive action plan to strengthen the existing strategies to tackle the issue.

The activists said the JSR statistics portrayed a dismal picture of the status of the female child in various blocks of the districts. The ticklish social issue had to be addressed at the urban, taluk, block and village levels with a co-ordinated approach.

While the Omalur taluk in Salem district recorded the lowest in Tamil Nadu with 589 girl children per 1,000 boys.

Only two taluks — Gingee (1,055) in Villupuram district and Udhagamandalam (1,008) in Nilgiris district — had girls in excess per 1,000 boys.

Of the seven taluks in Dindigul district, the JSR of Vedasanthur is a poor 897. Usilampatti taluk in Madurai district, once notorious for infanticide, retains its image with a ratio of 843, while Rasipuram taluk with 886 is the lowest in Namakkal district. Andipatti in Theni district, from where the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, was elected to the Assembly, is languishing at 859. Krishnarayapuram in Karur district (907) and Pennagaram (776) in Dharmapuri district are the other taluks in the State that need immediate attention.

Jeeva and Pavalam from the Campaign Against Sex Selective Abortion, Madurai, spoke at length about the issues, including the ethical aspect, which confronted the activists while insisting the strict enforcement of the PCPNDT Act and the MTP Act.

The activists were asked to arrive at a consensus on strategies to check female foeticide. The socio-economic implications of punishing the mother on charges of infanticide should also be discussed threadbare.

A. Renganathan, Campaign's Salem convener, and other activists from Erode, Coimbatore, Salem, Madurai, Vellore and Bangalore discussed about the micro- and macro-level advocacy strategies.

Initiating the discussion, George Fernandez, zonal manager, Plan International (India), Bangalore, the organisers of the programme, said the outcome of the exercise would ensure a team effort in the fight against a social scourge.

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