Women across India wage a daily battle to be able to make their own decisions and safeguard their rights. The district of Kadapa is taking small steps to make its environment conducive for women. The 2011 Census revealed that the sex ratio of 1,000 boys to girls had taken a huge fall from 956 to 919.
Kadapa and Warangal were two of the 100 districts in the country which were inducted into the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao initiative.
At the helm of bringing about tangible change in Kadapa is Sandhya Puchalapalli with her organisation, Aarti.
She has been working for the last 24 years for issues concerning young girls and mothers. “Like anywhere else, girls in Kadapa are perceived as burdens. Parents don’t want to educate them, because at the end of the day, she is someone else’s property. All they have to do is marry her off with a hefty dowry,” she says.
An alumnus of St Francis College for Women in the city, according to Sandhya, if a woman’s first born is a girl, she is accepted; the second time around, she isn’t forgiven. If the third attempt is also a girl, the child is aborted.
“Earlier, the tendency was to discard a new-born somewhere, or leave it at the door of an orphanage. But now since technology has evolved, if the sex determination test reveals a girl, the pregnancy is terminated behind closed doors,” adds Sandhya.
With aid received in January from the European Union, Sandhya and her 100-member team are trying to combat and curb female foeticide and infanticide in Kadapa.
Sandhya shares, “Our first outreach is to frontline professionals like Anganwadi and ASHA workers, radiologists, gynecologists, police and lawyers who can motivate people to take better decisions for them. We will visit villages to sensitise families about the importance of women in society.”
The team is also planning message videos from the district collector, religious leaders and people from the area, who could influence and persuade families not to abort the girl child.
There have been noticeable positive changes. Families are now allowing their daughters to go to college, get a job — sometimes in a different city — which was unthinkable earlier....