03/05/2008, 00.00
INDIA

Three thousand dollars per family to rear a daughter

The programme has been announced by the central government and is aimed at poor families in 7 states. The target is to discourage the illegal, but still widespread practise of female foeticide.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The central government intends to offer 3 thousand dollars to poor families who choose to rear their daughters.   The program aims to discourage the widespread practise of female infanticide that has led to a marked imbalance between sexes in many areas across the Union.  Since 1994 selective abortion has been banned in India, but the practise still continues illegally.

According to research published in2006 by the British medical journal Lancet, in the last 20 years over 10 million female children have been aborted.  In Indian culture, male children are preferred because they transmit the family name, become an income source and are able to support ageing parents, while female children is destined to leave the family and moreover cost money, because of the dowry they must receive on marriage.  In States worst hit by the phenomenon such as Punjab, the male:female ratio stands at 1000:793.

According to the new government program, poor families in 7 states will receive economic aid paid in install aments the first at the birth of a daughter and again at different stages throughout her childhood up to the age of 18 years India's Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Choudhury said she hoped the scheme would encourage families to look upon girls “as an asset rather than a liability”. Human rights activists have welcomed the move but also expressed the initiative will go beyond the poor in the future.

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