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Indian state proposes 'boycott' of dowry families - paper

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 5 Oct 2011 11:05 GMT
Author: Nita Bhalla
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NEW DELHI (TrustLaw) - The central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh says families who partake in the illegal practice of dowry giving or receiving should face a “social boycott” as the custom is seen as a root cause of rising female foeticide, the Indian Express reported on Wednesday.

In parts of largely patriarchal India, there is a strong preference for sons, and female babies are often illegally aborted. Girls are seen as a burden because substantial amounts of money must be paid when they wed in the form of dowry.

Decades of this practice have led to a declining number of girls in India.

 According to the newspaper, Madhya Pradesh - which saw a declining male-to-female sex ratio in the latest census - is launching a “Save the daughter” campaign to promote the girl child. It also plans to roll out programmes aimed at changing the “pro-son” mindset in the region.

Initiatives will include encouraging communities to shun families that demand dowries, reserving half of teaching posts for women, providing pensions to parents who have only daughters, and promoting the adoption of female children in orphanages.

Early results of India's 2011 census revealed in March that fewer girls have been born over the last decade compared with boys, suggesting that the illegal practice of female foeticide - the killing of unborn girls - continues unabated.

While the overall female-to-male ratio has improved since the last census in 2001, the number of girls under six years old has declined for the fifth decade running. There are now only 914 girls to every 1,000 boys, compared with 927 a decade ago.

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