India as a country may boast of much technological, economic, and political progress in the past couple of decades. What still causes the country to be placed among the bottom rungs of social progress, however, is the status of women. Atrocities against children are still common scenarios and female feticide a horrifying reality in this country. Child labor used in eateries and construction sites, for domestic servitude, sexual abuse and child pornography, and for organ harvesting are common news reports. Haryana too suffers from its share of this evil child abuse. It must be acknowledged, though, that unless we are successful in securing a safe environment for our children to grow up in, our vision of Naya Haryana will remain skewed.
Haryana is among the bottom two Indian states when it comes to child sex ratio. In 2011, the census reported that the state has 846 girls per 1000 boys. Discrimination against females and child atrocities starts with gender discrimination. Determination of fetal gender and selective abortion is surprisingly higher in the urban sectors of the state than in rural areas.
According to a recent report, Haryana ranks 31 among all the Indian States and Union Territories in terms of its sex ratio. The state has just 877 women per 1,000 men. It is estimated that about 37,000 fetuses are killed each year in Haryana following their gender determination as females; this accounts for some 4% of the total female feticide cases in the country.
In 2012, a seminar held at the Chandigarh Press Club Kanya Bhrun Hatya and Mahila Utpidan the speakers reiterated that crimes against girl children in the state cannot be prevented by making laws to prevent them. The only effective way to prevent female feticides and other crimes against children is by effecting a change in the mentality of the people. Education and awareness are the most important tools to help the state understand the dangers of a skewed male female ratio.
There is no easy solution to tackling child labor. The solution is many pronged tackle poverty, promote education, and eradicate gender discrimination and unemployment. The state agencies will need to work on different levels - with village panchayats, parents, teachers, labor organizations, and NGOs. Admittedly finding cooperation on every level is difficult and lucrative incentives need to be offered to draw children away from labor and into schools. Partnerships and projects with gender awareness and protection of female rights is core to addressing the concern.
A modern and progressive Haryana can only be built on strong foundations if the future generations grow up to be creative, strong, and liberal. That is possible only in a secure environment where children are no longer exploited as cheap or forced labor, or victimized as a result of prenatal sex determination, sexual abuse, and gender discrimination. While a number of schemes and programs are being developed and implemented, these will only serve to inhibit such atrocities; our state will be a truly united one when the people unite and act against atrocities against children, when self- discipline and self-policing rather than crime and punishment become the norm.