Thousands March Against Female Foeticide in Pune Marathon
Thousands of people took part in a marathon in Pune creating awareness against female foeticide even as an international survey revealed India to be the worst country among the top economies with regards to discrimination against women.
Another aim of the marathon was to bring out the interest of children in sporting activities.
The marathon witnessed the participation of at least 5000 people, including former military cadres.
Legislator Vinayak Niman said female foeticide would be eliminated only if the insecurity feeling among people ends.
"We have organised this marathon with the concept of saving the girl chid because of their decreasing population. The birth rate of girls in India is 970 girls for 1000 boys. Many cases of female foeticides are coming into light, which can only be stopped when the insecurity feeling among people would end. People will have to believe that if given a chance, girls can come out successful and this would create confidence among people. The public will have to end gender biasness," said Niman.
India is advancing but many women still trapped in dark ages. India's women are discriminated against, abused and even killed on a scale unparalleled in the top 19 economies of the world, according to a poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The poll results - based on parameters such as quality of health services, threat of physical and sexual violence, level of political voice, and access to property and land rights - jars with the modern-day image of India.
A girl's fight for survival begins in the womb due to an overwhelming desire for sons and fear of dowry, which has resulted in 12 million girls being aborted over the last three decades, according to a 2011 study by The Lancet.
Social workers say decades of aborting female babies in a deeply patriarchal culture has led to a decline in the population of women in some parts of India and in turn has resulted in rising incidents of rape, human trafficking and the emergence of "wife-sharing" amongst brothers.
Aid workers say the practice of female foeticide has flourished among several communities across the country because of a traditional preference for sons, who are seen as old-age security.
The threats in India are manifold - from female foeticide, child marriage, dowry and honour killings to discrimination in health and education.
Despite laws banning expectant parents from doing pre-natal tests to determine the gender of their unborn child, the illegal abortion of female foetuses is still common in some parts of India, where a preference for sons runs deep.
Provisional results from the Census of India show that while the female to male ratio in the population has improved since the last census in 2001, the number of girls under six years old has declined for the fifth consecutive decade.
There are now 940 females to every 1,000 males in India, compared to 933 in 2001, said the report. But the national child sex ratio shows there are only 914 girls compared with 927 a decade ago.
Sons, in traditionally male-dominated regions, are viewed as assets-breadwinners who will take care of the family, continue the family name, and perform the last rites of the parents, an important ritual in many faiths.
Daughters are seen as a liability, for whom families have to pay substantial wedding dowries. Protecting their chastity is a major concern as instances of pre-marital sex are seen to bring shame and dishonour on families.
The government banned sex determination tests using techniques like ultra-sonography and amniocentesis in 1996, to stop parents aborting children when they were found to be female.
But in states like Haryana, Punjab and Gujarat, as well as the capital, New Delhi, the practice continues, with private doctors offering the service illegally to those willing to pay.
Women's rights activists say breaking down these deep-rooted, age-old beliefs is a major challenge.